Campfire Wood Selection Guide: How To Find The Best Wood For Campfire


Camping can be quite an adventure if you discover the right campfire wood to use to keep yourself warm at night.

But warmth is not the only reason to set up a campfire – it can also help you stay safe and avoid wild animals while camping. Hence, you must identify the wood that can burn efficiently throughout the night without going out. Here is how to find the best wood for a campfire.


Hardwood is the most preferred type of wood for a campfire, as it burns slowly and more intensely than softwood. Its species are dark in color. Their trees grow slowly and become much denser than softwood.

Hardwood can be used in diverse ways including building construction, fuel, and building furniture. However, due to their density and the time they take to dry out, they are recommended for smoking meat, campfires, and cooking fires.

One advantage of using hardwoods is that they stand out when used with long and lingering fires. Below is a list of the most popular type of hardwood

1. Oak

Oak can be found almost anywhere in the world and can burn for a long time. You can always use it with the other different types of logs such as birch and pine.

If you want to have a comfortable sleep, oak will be your best bet for the night campfire, as you won’t need to keep on refueling. When dry, it burns slowly and steadily producing the best campfire. However, before it can burn well, you have to create a good base and maintain a continuous high heat. The three common types of oak include white oak, pin oak, and northern red oak.

2. Birch

Birch can burn quickly and can be used with slow-burning wood such as oak. There are different species of birch such as black, white, and yellow birch.  The best thing about this campfire wood is that it can burn even when unseasoned and its bark can be used to start fire naturally.

3. Ash

Ash is suitable for anyone looking for something that burns on its own with a steady flame.  It retains minimal moisture and has a very good heat output. Another reason why ash ranks among the best wood for the campfire is that it does not produce a lot of smoke.

4. Maple

Maple is a deciduous hardwood with average heating values. It is extremely difficult to split, but very efficient when burning, as it produces excellent heat, just like oak.

This hardwood is recommended for cooking especially when you want to smoke food or make some campfire skewers. It produces little smoke and can come in handy when hosting bonfire parties.


Softwood is preferred for outside use as they tend to emit more smoke. When compared to hardwood, they are lower in density and ignite more quickly. They are therefore perfect for kindling campfires.

Softwood species are a renewable source of wood that is easier and cheaper to obtain. Trees that fall under this category grow much quickly than hardwood and can be used across various applications. The most common softwood for a campfire includes:

1. Cedar

Cedar has a pleasant smell when burned, with a lasting heat and a crackling sound. It does not produce a large flame, but gives excellent heat, leaving you warm all night long.

This softwood can be used to take off the chill during spring, as it can create a burst of fire to keep you warm quickly. It can also be used as a natural kindling source, but should not be burned exclusively.

2. Pine

Pine has high resin content and can easily work as a fire starter. It grows in dense stands in tropical and temperate regions.

This softwood is suitable for the outdoors as it produces a big flame. But it may not be the best wood for campfires that need to last longer because it burns quickly. As such, you may want to consider using a different type of wood with it so you don’t deplete your supply.

Important Tips To Consider


Building Camp Fires

  • Always build fires in designated areas. Consider using a fire ring so you don’t have a problem containing the fire.
  • Before building a fire, inquire from the campground operator whether campfires are allowed. When going for dispersed camping, ensure that you get a permit. Liaise with the agency that offers permits such as a governmental Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management.
  • Always lookout for a hanging branch or a bush to minimize the chances of starting a wildfire.
  • When in the backcountry, start a fire in a previous fire ring and use non-flammable base materials such as sand and gravel to prevent spreading the fire. Remember to clean up when you leave.

Gathering Firewood

  • You will require some tinder such as dry leaves, forest duff, and small twigs and sticks. These will be used for kindling and will keep the firewood burning.
  • Call in advance and find out if the campsite you plan on staying at offers firewood or campers bring their firewood. It is important to be prepared so that you can factor in the costs.
  • When out in the wild, look for firewood that is down on the floor. Do not cut trees; you could be arrested. Wild camping can be fun and dangerous at the same time so ensure that you follow rules and regulations set on the camping grounds.

Ways To Build A Campfire


Place a handful of tinder in the middle of the fire ring. Once the fire starts, add in the larger logs. Always consider starting a smokeless fire. It is environmental-friendly and assures a clean campsite.

Log Cabin

Place two pieces of firewood and leave room in the middle to create a base. Place smaller pieces on top to form a square. Put in plenty of tinder ad kindling and add layers of firewood on top. Make sure to leave some space in between the logs to ensure there is enough oxygen to keep the fire burning.

Putting Out Campfire

The most common method of putting out a campfire is pouring water over the fire. However, be careful when doing it, as the steam can scald you if you stand too close. Ensure that the fire is out before you leave. If not, pour more water. Do not use dirt or sand to put out the fire as it has the potential to insulate hot coals.

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A campfire is an essential tool on a chilly night in the woods. Not only will it keep you warm, but also safe from wild animals.

It is important to identify the type of wood that will make your experience memorable. Always ensure that you go for wood that burns intensely and for long. Don’t go for scent; instead, go for the best campfire wood that will suit all your needs.

Also, learn how to start a campfire, as having the wood is just a small piece of the puzzle. Don’t forget to do some research on the camping ground you plan to visit to find it if they allow campfires and whether they provide firewood too. This will help you plan properly.

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  1. How to start a campfire,
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