Best Wood for Campfires [Everything You Need To Know]

There are certain things that you must have on a camping trip. One of those things is the campfire! It will keep you warm, provide you with some light, and provide you with a place where you can warm up or cook your food. At the same time, you can rest assured that the campfire will scare away all wild animals and insects that might be lurking nearby.

What happens if you do not know what type of wood you should use to make a campfire? Do you wing it, or is that not a good idea? If you do not know what type of wood is best for campfires, I will tell you all about that in this friendly guide. So, stick around if you want to learn more!


Which is the Best Wood for the Campfire

Even though you can start a campfire with any kind of wood, the campfire itself might not be that successful if you do not use the best wood for campfires. So, to save you the trouble of starting a fire only to find that it is a failure, I want to tell you exactly what type of wood you need to use!

In short, you need hardwood to make a successful fire. This type of wood makes the fire last for hours, burns hot, and has minimal smoke and spark. You will also be able to cook food on this type of fire – no matter if you need to roast, boil, or only warm something up.

Besides all this, there are a few other things to keep in mind. First, you should not cut trees that tend to take a while to grow. That kind of mindless woodcutting can be very detrimental to the environment in the long run, so you should always cut wood that will grow again at a fast pace.

Also, I would recommend that you find a type of hardwood that does not need seasoning. If you cannot find that kind of wood, look for a short seasoning process. That way, you will not have to wait a long time to use the wood for a campfire.

The best type of firewood will usually be oak, ash, hickory, and cedar. Still, you can also try out different types of wood and find the one that works best for you!

Which is the Worst Wood for the Campfire

There is one common mistake that people make. They think that since hardwood is the best type of wood for campfires, softwood is the worst. This is not quite true, as some types of softwood work great when used as campfire wood.

The worst type of wood for a campfire is not determined by whether it is softwood or hardwood. It is determined by certain characteristics that the fire has. So, let’s talk about what those characteristics are.

First of all, I do not recommend using a type of wood that burns quickly. Especially if you are camping in cold weather, you will have to use a lot of wood, and you will have to put new logs in all the time. At the same time, this type of fire will not produce enough heat, it will smoke, and chances are it will spark a lot.

It would help if you steered clear of those types of wood that contain a lot of moisture. Those types of firewood need long seasoning, and even after that, they will still not burn as well as you would want them to. Anything that requires about a year to the season is not that suitable for campfires.

Usually, the worst type of firewood includes willow, alder, and spruce. I would also recommend that you do not burn anything with vines on it. If the vines happen to be poisonous ivy, you might end up with a lung infection once you breathe in the smoke.

campfire near lake

Types of Campfire Wood

To use the best wood for campfires, you need to know what type of wood that is. There are many types of firewood that you can use to make a great campfire. Let’s talk about them in greater detail.


The pine trees are one of the few types of softwood that I have on this list. Even though they are different from hardwood, they are still a great choice to get some lively flames.

The best thing about pine is that it is the perfect fire starter. You will be able to start a robust and powerful fire within minutes with pine wood. It has high heat output, and it does not attract insects at all.

There are a couple of downsides to pine wood that you have to know. First, this type of wood burns quickly. Second, it will produce some smoke and sparks. If that is something you want to avoid, you should use some of the other types of wood.


This is a very heavy and dense type of hardwood that is perfect for campfires. It will burn for a while with little to no smoke or sparks.

The only downside that you might come across with this type of wood is that it takes quite a while to season. That means that you will not be able to use it for a campfire for about a year after you get it.


The birch is another exciting campfire option. Certain characteristics make it perfect for campfires, while other characteristics will revert you from using it. Let’s focus on the good things first, and then I will tell you the shortcomings of the birch.

The birch does not need any seasoning. You can cut it and use it for a campfire immediately. It will spark a little, but it will provide you with high heat output.

The shortcoming of birch is that it burns quickly. It is an excellent choice for spring or summer campfires, but you should not use it for winter campfires due to this shortcoming.


Oak trees are a great option for campfires because they burn hot. At the same time, a campfire with oak trees will not spark and will burn long.

Even though there are many great things connected to this type of wood, it still comes with one shortcoming. Oak trees need a year of seasoning before you can use them, so keep that in mind when deciding.


Maple wood is another great campfire choice. It is versatile in choosing between red maple, field maple, sugar maple, or silver maple wood. They are all quite dense, which makes them perfect for winter campfires.

Maple wood, especially red maple, will burn long and hot without any smoke. That makes it a great choice if you are planning to cook food on your trip. You will be able to do that without worrying about smoke getting in your eyes and nose.


Hickory is one of those trees that will provide you with slow-burning and high heat. It will not smoke that much, so you will be able to prepare food on the campfire as well.

But the problem with hickory is that it is very dense. You will have difficulties cutting it because of its density, but the campfire you will get from it will make it worth it.

Ash Wood

The ash wood is another great choice for those looking to make a steady fire that burns hot. This might even be the best wood for a winter campfire since it is dense but still lightweight. It will not attract insects at all, so you should give it a try for sure!

Black Cherry

One of the best things about black cherry campfires is the aroma. You should feel a strong smell coming from the fire, making sitting around it even more pleasant. At the same time, you will not have any problems with the smoke since this type of wood does not smoke that much.

The only problem with black cherry wood is that it provides medium heat only. That makes it suitable for spring or autumn campfires, but not winter campfires. Take that into consideration when planning your next camping trip.

cooking on campfire

Hardwood vs Softwood – What is better for a Campfire?

It is general knowledge that hardwood is better for campfires. It is the perfect fire starter, and it has slow-burning, little to no smoke and sparks, and high heat output. This type of wood tends to be denser, so the only problem you might experience is the cutting. You will not be able to cut this wood without a bit of effort and strength.

As mentioned above, there are many hardwood options that you can use to make a great campfire. You can use beech, birch, ash wood, oak, maple, hickory, black cherry, and so on.

Still, this does not mean that you cannot use softwood to make a good campfire. Pine trees are one of those softwood trees that can burn well. They might spark a bit, but it is a small price to pay for having warm and lively flames!


That is everything you need to know about campfires and wood. This guide helped you learn more about what type of wood you should use to start a good campfire and what kind of wood you should steer clear of.

Remember that hardwood is best for campfires, while certain types of softwood are also suitable. You should stick with something that has hot but slow-burning, especially if you are camping in colder weather.

Let me know if you liked this guide or think that I should have included some other information on the topic. Your input is always appreciated, and I cannot wait to read all your comments.

Andrew Mullen

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