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Sweep's Library: Firewood Heat Value Comparison Charts

Sweepy Here are two charts showing the weight and available heat content of one cord of firewood of various species, the first sorted by heat value, and the second sorted alphabetically for easy lookup. The heat value measurement used is the British Thermal Unit, or BTU, which is defined as the amount of thermal energy it takes to raise one pound of water one degree F. One MBTU = one million BTUs.

Firewood Chart A: Sorted by BTU Content
Common Name Species Name Pounds
/Cord
MBTU
/Cord
Osage Orange (Hedge) Maclura pomifera 4,845 30.0
Hop Hornbeam (Ironwood) Ostrya virginiana 4,250 26.4
Persimmon, American Diospyros virginiana 4,165 25.8
Hickory, Shagbark Carya ovata 4,080 25.3
Dogwood, Pacific Cornus nuttallii 3,995 24.8
Holly, American Ilex Opaca 3,995 24.8
Birch, Black Betula lenta 3,910 24.2
Oak, White Quercus alba 3,910 24.2
Madrone, Pacific (Arbutus) Arbutus menziesii 3,825 23.7
Oak, Post Quercus stellata 3,825 23.7
Locust, Honey Gleditsia triacanthos 3,825 23.7
Hickory, Bitternut Carya cordiformis 3,825 23.7
Beech, Blue (Ironwood) Carpinus caroliniana 3,825 23.7
Mulberry Morus rubra 3,740 23.2
Locust, Black Robinia pseudoacacia 3,740 23.2
Maple, Sugar Acer saccharum 3,740 23.2
Beech, American Fagus grandifolia 3,655 22.7
Oak, Oregon (Garry) Quercus garryana 3,655 22.7
Oak, Bur (Mossycup) Quercus macrocarpa 3,655 22.7
Oak, Red Quercus rubra 3,570 22.1
Birch, Yellow Betula alleghaniensis 3,570 22.1
Ash, White Fraxinus americana 3,485 21.6
Myrtle, Oregon (Pepperwood) Umbellularia californica 3,485 21.6
Apple Malus domestica 3,485 21.6
Ash, Green Fraxinus pennsylvanica 3,400 21.1
Maple, Black Acer nigrum 3,400 21.1
Walnut, Black Juglans nigra 3,230 20.0
Maple, Red Acer rubrum 3,230 20.0
Ash, Oregon Fraxinus latifolia 3,230 20.0
Birch, White (Paper) Betula papyrifera 3,230 20.0
Tamarack (Larch) Larix laricina 3,145 19.5
Birch, Gray Betula populifolia 3,145 19.5
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis 3,145 19.5
Juniper, Rocky Mtn Juniperus scopulorum 3,145 19.5
Cherry, Black Prunus serotina 3,145 19.5
Coffeetree, Kentucky Gymnocladus dioicus 3,060 19.0
Sorrel (Sourwood) Oxydendrum arboreum 3,060 19.0
Elm, Red Ulmus rubra 3,060 19.0
Eucalyptus (Red Gum) Eucalyptus camaldulensis 2,975 18.4
Elm, American Ulmus americana 2,975 18.4
Sycamore, American Platanus occidentalis 2,890 17.9
Maple, Big Leaf Acer macrophyllum 2,890 17.9
Elm, White (Russian) Ulmus laevis 2,890 17.9
Ash, Black Fraxinus nigra 2,890 17.9
Boxelder (Maple Ash) Acer negundo 2,890 17.9
Pine, Norway (Red) Pinus resinosa 2,890 17.9
Fir, Douglas Pseudotsuga menzies II 2,805 17.4
Maple, Silver Acer saccharinum 2,805 17.4
Compressed Sawdust Logs* Presto homofecit stipes 2,000 17.0
Pine, Pitch Pinus rigida 2,635 17.0
Pine, Lodgepole Pinus contora latifolia 2,46515.3
Hemlock Pinaceae tsuga 2,46515.3
Spruce, Black Picea mariana 2,46515.3
Catalpa (Catawba) Catalpa speciosa 2,38014.8
Pine, Ponderosa Pinus ponderosa 2,38014.8
Alder, Red or White Alnus rubra or rhombifolia 2,38014.8
Pine, Jack (Canadian) Pinus banksiana 2,38014.8
Spruce, Sitka Picea sitchensis 2,38014.8
Pine, White (Idaho) Pinus monticola 2,23614.3
Willow Salix 2,29514.2
Fir, Concolor (White) Abies concolor 2,29514.2
Basswood (Linden) Tilia americana 2,21013.7
Aspen, American (Poplar) Populus tremuloides 2,21013.7
Butternut (White Walnut) Juglans cinerea 2,12513.2
Pine, White (Eastern) Pinus strobus 2,12513.2
Fir, Balsam Abies balsamea 2,12513.2
Cottonwood (Poplar) Populus trichocarpa 2,04012.6
Spruce, Engelmann Picea engelmannii 1,95512.1
Cedar, Eastern (Redcedar) Juniperus virginiana 1,95512.1
Buckeye, Ohio Aesculus glabra 1,95512.1
Cedar, White (Whitecedar) Thuja occidentalis 1,87011.6
Bamboo Poaceae bambusoideae 1,61510.0
Balsa Ochroma pyramidale 9355.8

Copyright © 2011 The Chimney Sweep, Inc.
Firewood Chart B: Sorted Alphabetically
Common Name Species Name Pounds
/Cord
MBTU
/Cord
Alder, Red or White Alnus rubra or rhombifolia 2,38014.8
Apple Malus domestica 3,485 21.6
Ash, Black Fraxinus nigra 2,890 17.9
Ash, Green Fraxinus pennsylvanica 3,400 21.1
Ash, Oregon Fraxinus latifolia 3,230 20.0
Ash, White Fraxinus americana 3,485 21.6
Aspen, American (Poplar) Populus tremuloides 2,21013.7
Balsa Ochroma pyramidale 9355.8
Bamboo Poaceae bambusoideae 1,61510.0
Basswood (Linden) Tilia americana 2,21013.7
Beech, American Fagus grandifolia 3,655 22.7
Beech, Blue (Ironwood) Carpinus caroliniana 3,825 23.7
Birch, Black Betula lenta 3,890 24.2
Birch, Gray Betula populifolia 3,145 19.5
Birch, Yellow Betula alleghaniensis 3,570 22.1
Birch, White (Paper) Betula papyrifera 3,230 20.0
Boxelder (Maple Ash) Acer negundo 2,890 17.9
Buckeye, Ohio Aesculus glabra 1,95512.1
Butternut (White Walnut) Juglans cinerea 2,125 13.2
Catalpa (Catawba) Catalpa speciosa 2,38014.8
Cedar, Eastern (Redcedar) Juniperus virginiana 1,95512.1
Cedar, White (Whitecedar) Thuja occidentalis 1,87011.6
Cherry, Black Prunus serotina 3,145 19.5
Coffeetree, Kentucky Gymnocladus dioicus 3,060 19.0
Compressed Sawdust Logs * Presto homofecit stipes 2,000 17.0
Cottonwood (Poplar) Populus trichocarpa 2,04012.6
Dogwood, Pacific Cornus nuttallii 3,995 24.8
Elm, American Ulmus americana 2,975 18.4
Elm, Red Ulmus rubra 3,060 19.0
Elm, White (Russian) Ulmus laevis 2,890 17.9
Eucalyptus (Red Gum) Eucalyptus camaldulensis 2,975 18.4
Fir, Balsam Abies balsamea 2,12513.2
Fir, Concolor (White) Abies concolor 2,29514.2
Fir, Douglas Pseudotsuga menzies II 2,805 17.4
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis 3,145 19.5
Hemlock Pinaceae tsuga 2,46515.3
Hickory, Bitternut Carya cordiformis 3,825 23.7
Hickory, Shagbark Carya ovata 4,080 25.3
Holly, American Ilex Opaca 3,995 24.8
Hop Hornbeam (Ironwood) Ostrya virginiana 4,250 26.4
Juniper, Rocky Mtn Juniperus scopulorum 3,145 19.5
Locust, Black Robinia pseudoacacia 3,740 23.2
Locust, Honey Gleditsia triacanthos 3,825 23.7
Madrone, Pacific (Arbutus) Arbutus menziesii 3,825 23.7
Maple, Big Leaf Acer macrophyllum 2,890 17.9
Maple, Black Acer nigrum 3,400 21.1
Maple, Red Acer rubrum 3,230 20.0
Maple, Sugar Acer saccharum 3,740 23.2
Maple, Silver Acer saccharinum 2,805 17.4
Mulberry Morus rubra 3,740 23.2
Myrtle, Oregon (Pepperwood) Umbellularia californica 3,485 21.6
Oak, Bur (Mossycup) Quercus macrocarpa 3,655 22.7
Oak, Oregon (Garry) Quercus garryana 3,655 22.7
Oak, Post Quercus stellata 3,825 23.7
Oak, Red Quercus rubra 3,570 22.1
Oak, White Quercus alba 3,910 24.2
Osage Orange (Hedge) Maclura pomifera 4,845 30.0
Persimmon, American Diospyros virginiana 4,165 25.8
Pine, Jack (Canadian) Pinus banksiana 2,38014.8
Pine, Lodgepole Pinus contora latifolia 2,46515.3
Pine, Norway (Red) Pinus resinosa 2,890 17.9
Pine, Pitch Pinus rigida 2,635 16.3
Pine, Ponderosa Pinus ponderosa 2,38014.8
Pine, White (Eastern) Pinus strobus 2,12513.2
Pine, White (Idaho) Pinus monticola 2,23614.3
Sorrel (Sourwood) Oxydendrum arboreum 3,060 19.0
Spruce, Engelmann Picea engelmannii 1,95512.1
Spruce, Sitka Picea sitchensis 2,38014.8
Spruce, Black Picea mariana 2,46515.3
Sycamore, American Platanus occidentalis 2,890 17.9
Tamarack (Larch) Larix laricina 3,145 19.5
Walnut, Black Juglans nigra 3,230 20.0
Willow Salix 2,29514.2

Copyright © 2011 The Chimney Sweep, Inc.

Weight and Heat content figures are based on seasoned wood at 20% moisture content, and 85 cu ft of wood per cord. A cord of wood is defined as a stack 4 feet high, 4 feet deep and 8 feet long, which comes to 128 cu ft, but we deduct for air space between the pieces in the stack.

* Compressed sawdust logs sell by weight, not volume.  BTU content given is for one ton (2,000 lbs)

To read about how we derived the numbers for our charts, click here.

Regardless of what species of wood you burn, it won't produce optimal heat output and burn time unless it is properly seasoned. You can read more about why you shouldn't burn unseasoned fuel wood here. 

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A Correction from Plymouth, Minnesota

I need to address your silly comment about the airspace in a cord of wood. Back in the day, a cord of wood was 4x4x8 as it is today.  However, it was made up of unsplit logs in 8ft lengths stacked 4ft high and 4ft wide.  Logs then were commonly 2ft in diameter or much larger.  Therefore, a cord could easily be comprised of four 24" logs stacked two each high and two each wide.

Bruce

Sweepy Hi Bruce, 

Ah, the eternal question: when does wood become cordwood?   A tree goes through several steps on its way to your wood stove or fireplace.  At the very minimum, it must be cut down, limbed, and finally, cut to the appropriate length for its final use.  That use could be telephone poles, or dimensional lumber, or log houses, or particle board, all of which might require different lengths.  When we refer to "cordwood" in the charts above, we're talking about logs that are cut & split into pieces small enough to fit into your firebox.  Here in Washington State, it isn't even LEGAL to advertise wood as "cordwood" unless it is cut in 16" lengths.

Nonetheless, your "Bruce Cord" intrigued us, so we did a little research.  Here's what we found:

According to a 2011 report by the State of Minnesota, the most popular fuelwood species in your state are Oak & Ash.
With that in mind, let's examine the "Bruce Cord", comprised of four 8' long by 24" diameter Oak or Ash logs.
These logs would be green, as it would take many, many years to season an 8' length.
Which means, according to the Engineer's Toolbox, each of your 8' x 24" logs would weigh about 1,200 pounds!
To get that load delivered, you'd need to contract with a logging company to make delivery with a log truck.
We maintain that, even though your intention might be to cut and split that truckload into fuel-size pieces, you'd be buying logs, not cordwood. 
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The Bruce Cord has airspace too

While your answer to Bruce is more than adequate, you might add that, while a cord comprised of split lengths is 85% wood, the "Bruce Cord" is only 78.54% wood!

David Little, Kansas City, Missouri
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A Correction from Wyoming

Just a comment on your BTU chart. A cord of wood is 4X4X8 SOLID! (as in stacked lumber) so when you deducted the "air space" it was an error. However... you did use the same formula for all species, so the BTU content in relation to each other is still accurate, even though the number isn't accurate for a cord.  I did like the fact that you put weights on the list also. Guys are constantly telling me they can get 1 1/2 cords on a pick-up. Didn't think they were... looking at these weights, now I'm sure. Thanks for the info.

Mike

Sweepy Hi Mike,

I'll admit that a tight stack of dimensional lumber will have very little airspace, but dimensional lumber is sold by the board/foot, not the cord. Our charts are concerned with fuel wood, which is irregular-shaped rounds and splits off the tree. For the record, the correction for airspace between pieces didn't originate with us, it is a widely held standard in the hearth product and solid fuel industries, and we consider it pretty accurate.

Just for grins, let's consider the price you'd pay for a "cord" of dimensional lumber.  If you put together a 4' wide x 4' tall stack of 8' long Doug Fir 4x4's, it would take 188 of them (considering actual size, 3-1/2" x 3-1/2"), which would run you over $1,700.00 at the lumber yard at today's price.  Seems a little steep for a cord of firewood, no?
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 Log delivery by the cord a reality in Wisconsin!

In northern Wisconsin we buy firewood in log form by the cord. You order however many cords you want from the logging company, they deliver it on a log truck and you cut it up, split it and season it yourself. But it isn't in 8' lengths: the logs are just pulpwood that isn't going to make it to the mill, and 102 inches (8ft. 6") is the standard length that paper mills require.

The chart was interesting, thanks.
Cliff from Wisconsin


Here in Wisconsin people can easily buy firewood in 10 and 12 cord semi truck loads. They are 8' logs, with diameters ranging from 6" to  over 24"(although the big one was somewhat hollow on the large end).  They aren't pretty but they are the cheapest way to buy firewood, discounting slab wood. Just a whole lot of work and cleanup after.


Nice chart though.

Carl

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A Comment from New Zealand:

BTUs? What century was your chart produced? I thought the world measured energy in Joules(J), Kilojoules (KJ), Megajoules (MJ) these days!

I am 70 next birthday, and can distinctly remember learning about energy in high school science classes around 1955~59. We did learn the BTU at first, but the next year we changed to Joules for energy, and were told that the reason was that all science throughout the world was done in metric units, so we better get used to it!

The next few years were an exciting time, as New Zealand changed over to the metric system for everyday use. By this time I was myself a high school teacher and we had the challenge of converting all teaching to metric units. Metric measurement is now universal throughout the country.

OK, I do actually realise you are in the US, and the US has farther to go down this road than any other country in the world. I will just say when the change finally comes your way, embrace it wholeheartedly. It may seem difficult initially, but once you are used to it you will NEVER want to go back to the old system. I have heard literally hundreds of old diehards utter similar sentiments a short time after they have had to change!

Cheers,
Graeme

Sweepy We might be tempted to convert our firewood rating chart over from MBTUs to MegaJoules, but we have one consideration: how many times have we been sitting at our favorite tavern, glass in hand, and found ourselves engaging in some version of the following exchange?

Bob: "Say, during my last sip I noticed that my pounder of Budweiser has warmed up exactly one degree F while I've been holding it. How much energy did my body have to give up to make that happen?"

Tom: "One BTU."

An easy exchange, no? Now let's try the same conversation in a NZ pub:

Kevin: "Say, during my last sip I noticed that my 0.453592 kg glass of Mac's Gold has warmed up exactly .55555 degrees C while I've been holding it. How much energy did my body have to give up to make that happen?"

Graeme: "1,055 Joules."

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Thanks for the chart, very helpful, love the joke at the end

Ryan Weems

Sweepy Joke?

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