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How Many BTUs In A Cord Of Wood?

How Many BTUs In A Cord Of Wood?

As the cold weather approaches, using firewood to warm yourself and heat your home is a cost-effective and efficient option. This method was developed long before the invention of the HVAC system.

You’re now ready to use firewood as your home’s heating system. However, do you ever wonder how many BTUs a cord of wood can generate?

A cord of wood produces an average of 17 million to 37 million BTU. Furthermore, to maximize efficiency, season your wood completely before using it.

However, the exact BTU of a cord of wood will vary depending on the species of wood used.

You’ll know which firewood burns the hottest by the end of this article. We’ll also discuss how to dry your firewood faster.

Which Types Of Firewood Have The Highest BTU Rating?

How Many BTUs In A Cord Of Wood?

Some hardwoods are tree species that burn hotter and produce more BTUs per cord than others. The western United States is home to some of the hottest hardwoods.

Some hardwoods and their corresponding BTUs per cord are as follows:

  • 36.6 BTU Live Oak
  • 34.5 BTU Eucalyptus
  • 32.0 BTU Manzanita
  • 30.9 BTU Pacific Madrone
  • Dogwood has a BTU rating of 30.4

The following are the best softwood firewood types and their BTUs per cord:

  • 26.5 BTU for Douglas Fir
  • 26.4 BTU Western Juniper
  • 24.4 BTU Western Hemlock
  • 23.4 BTU Port Orford Cedar
  • 22.3 BTU Lodgepole Pine

NOTE: The BTU firewood efficiency varies continuously depending on how well the wood is seasoned.

Which Wood Burns The Hottest And For The Longest?

Hardwood trees are the best burning woods because they have the highest burn rate and the longest burn period. This includes ash, birch, maple, oak, and the majority of fruit trees.

What Is The Distinction Between Hardwood And Softwood?

Hardwoods frequently have dark-colored wood and broad leaves. They frequently have more rigid cell walls and higher densities than softwoods. Hardwood species outnumber softwood species by a large margin.

Softwoods, on the other hand, are conifers with leaves that resemble needles.

They have lighter colors and lower densities. Softwoods typically grow faster than hardwoods, are less expensive, softer, and easier to work with.

Is Wet Wood More difficult To Burn?

Not all types of wood, especially wet firewood, burn easily. Wood must have certain characteristics, including a low enough moisture level to burn properly and efficiently in fires.

Wood naturally has a high moisture content, and moisture content can account for a significant portion of the material. You can determine the moisture content of a recently cut branch or log using a moisture meter.

Some of the issues you’ll encounter when burning wet wood in your fireplaces are as follows:

It Lowers Efficiency
Your heat efficiency isn’t as good as it could be. To put it simply, wet firewood is less efficient. This is due to the fact that damp wood requires a lot of heat to boil off its moisture content.

Furthermore, using firewood with a moisture level above 18% reduces the efficiency of the firewood.

Increases The Risk Of A Fire
Wet wood produces more smoke than dry wood, which affects the rate of air pollutants within your chimney’s flue. The burning of damp wood in your fireplace causes creosote growth in your flue liner.

This increases the risk of a fire due to overheating when creosote blocks the chimney’s vent.

Potential Health Hazards
Wet wood may also be hazardous to your health. Toxic gases are present in the smoke produced by wet wood, as one might expect. The main threat to your health is caused by fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5.

These tiny particles can enter your respiratory system and cause asthma. Furthermore, once this smoke enters your eyes, it will cause burning, sinus problems, and bronchitis.

What Wood Has The Highest Creosote Content?

According to one source, hardwood can sometimes emit more creosote than softwood. Experiments show that dried wood produces more creosote than green or wet wood.

Despite the fact that the trials were conducted on closed free-standing stoves with metal flues, the findings apply to any duct that transports wood smoke from a fire.

How Do You Quickly Dry Firewood?

Seasoning is required for newly cut wood. Dry firewood is required to keep your fire burning and your stovepipe from becoming clogged, whether you’re heating your house or trying to stay warm while camping.

The following are some methods for drying your firewood more quickly:

Split And Cut The Wood
Trim branches from freshly cut trees with a machete, bucksaw, or chainsaw. It is ideal for cutting wood into lengths suitable for use in fireplaces or woodstoves.

How Many BTUs In A Cord Of Wood?

The wood should be split and stacked so that air can flow through each layer. To avoid moisture buildup, keep freshly cut wood away from the ground.

Using Sunlight Heat
If the wood is left exposed to the heat of the sun and wind, it will dry faster. However, it is also advisable to prepare an easy-to-fold cover ahead of time to prevent rain and snow from reaching the wood.

Depending on the weather, you can easily cover and fold the woods to speed up the drying process.

Using Fireplace Heat

Store a supply of firewood inside your home a few days before you need it. Setting the wood aside near your fireplace or woodstove will help it dry much faster.

Allow the heat to fully penetrate the wood and rotate it every 10 to 15 minutes. This is done to evenly distribute the heat into the wood, speeding up the dying process.

NOTE: Dying your wood near fireplaces requires special care to avoid a fire in your home!

How Do You Keep Your Firewood?

How Many BTUs In A Cord Of Wood?

Unlike fuels, most firewood can be stored safely and indefinitely if properly stacked.

Making it convenient is essential, but try to keep it within 30 feet of your house. It’s best not to store your firewood too close to your house because rats and insects enjoy living in and around firewood stacks.

How Long Can The Firewood Be Stored?

If you store the firewood outside in good weather, you shouldn’t have to worry about mold or rot. Wood that is 1-3 years old is ideal because wood that is older than 5-6 years begins to deteriorate.

To maximize the efficiency of your firewood, use it within this time frame.

Is It Possible To Dry Wood In The Winter?

You can still dry out your firewood in the winter, but it will take a little longer. Furthermore, the lack of sunlight as one of the essential elements makes drying your firewood difficult.

Even if the firewood loses moisture during the winter, the process is much slower than it is in the summer.


Knowing how many BTUs a cord of firewood can provide will assist you in determining the type of wood you require. Furthermore, determining the hottest and longest-burning type of wood will provide you with significant benefits.

We’ve discussed how to properly store your firewood throughout this article. We’ve also included some of the best tree species with the highest BTU rate.

We hope that learning all of this important information will help you stay warm this winter with the right firewood.

How Many BTUs In A Cord Of Wood?

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Written by HVAC Contributor

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