BTU Of Firewood: [Chart And Detailed Info]

Firewood is mostly utilized to heat homes and campsites with no electricity access. The reason firewood is a great heating source is that it’s capable of producing high levels of BTU. The higher the BTU level, the more heat the firewood can produce. Whether you are interested in utilizing firewood to heat your home or fifth-wheel camper, you will need to know more about the BTUs it generates. You will find this information in the article below.

Before getting in too deep, you should go ahead and familiarize yourself with the term BTU. What does it actually mean? Most people understand that it has something to do with fire and heat.

What is BTU of firewood? Well, BTU actually stands for British Thermal Unit.  BTU is nothing more than the amount of energy needs to head a single pound of water and increase the temperature by a single degree. This might seem pretty basic, but it can make a huge difference for people who are attempting to heat their home using firewood.

Each specific type of wood will have its very own BTU rating. On top of that, the rating will change based on the wood’s moisture content.

If you haven’t dried it enough, there is a good chance that the BTU will decrease. More about this will be explored in greater depth below.

Firewood BTU Chart

Firewood BTU Chart

 If you’re trying to figure out how much BTUs your firewood will generate, you should always refer to a chart. The chart will provide you with a rough estimation of the heat that each cord of wood will produce. The BTUs will usually be displayed in millions.

Just remember that this is a rough estimate. It is not always going to be accurate. After all, there are plenty of variables that could change things. If the wood is still wet, the BTU rating will decrease. Therefore, you should use the chart as guidance.

It is still a good way to get a rough understanding of how many BTUs will be generated from a single cord or wood.

The chart can also help you identify the most energy efficient wood.

BTUs And Green Wood

Burning green wood is generally a bad idea. After all, it hasn’t been allowed to dry thoroughly. In return, this is going to make it much more difficult to get the fire started and keep it going. At the same time, burning this type of wood will result in much lower BTU ratings.

After all, you’re going to be creating energy from the fire. A lot of the fire’s energy will ultimately be used to deal with the wood’s moisture. In return, you’re going to be losing energy that could be utilized to heat your home.

As you can see, the BTU of the fire is very important. To ensure that your home is going to be heated sufficiently, it is vital to get the highest BTU rating possible. Therefore, you should make sure that you steer clear of green wood.

Other Green Wood Problems

While you’re at it, you should know that green wood is going to create a wealth of other problems. It will produce much less heat than the alternatives. At the same time, the green wood is going to be a disaster for your chimney. Think about it for a second.

When the wood is wet, there is a higher risk that it is going to smoke and smolder. In return, this is going to increase the likelihood that creosote is going to develop. Finally, this will lead to your chimney developing a creosote buildup at some point in the near future.

This is far more dangerous than you could ever imagine. If that creosote is ignited, it is going to lead to a chimney fire. Suffice to say, it is downright essential to completely dry your firewood in advance. This will give you the highest BTU rating and it’ll reduce the risk of experiencing a house fire.

Seasoned Firewood

To get the most heat out of your firewood, you will need to give it time to season. This process can take anywhere from two to 12 months, depending on the type of wood you are utilizing. Wood with high contents of oil will take much longer to season.

Other factors that determine the drying time is the storage location. For example, wood stored in humid, damp areas will take longer to season. So, choose your storage location very carefully because it will help determine the actual drying time.

[If you want to learn how I season my firewood, check out my guide on it here, How To Dry Wet Firewood.

Not only will unseasoned firewood generate less BTU but also it will cause creosote, coal tar, to build up inside of your chimney. Creosote buildup is extremely dangerous because it is highly combustible. If the creosote is ignited, it will lead to the outbreak of a fire, which will be extremely difficult to contain.

Whether you cut, chop and cure your own firewood or buy it from a vendor, it is crucial to know what it looks like after it is seasoned. Wood that is properly seasoned will have a grayish coloring.

If the wood is chopped into small- to medium-sized pieces before the seasoning, the ends of the lots will be cracked. These signs are the only way to determine if the firewood has been seasoned properly.

Understand Firewood Measurements

If you’re a newbie to firewood, you are probably not going to understand what a cord is. A cord is simply a number utilized to measure the wood. It is very common for people to buy and sell wood in ricks or face cords.

This is not a complete cord. A single cord of firewood will measure in at 128 cubic feet. This will normally be four foot high and 8 foot long. The pieces of wood will generally be 16 inches in length.

When you buy a face cord or risk, you’re only going to be acquiring a third of an entire cord. When dealing with ricks and faces, the length of the wood can differ to some degree. Therefore, the final cubic feet will also vary.

Either way, you need to know about these things if you’re going to fully understand the firewood’s BTU rating.

Hardwood Vs Softwood

While you’re at it, you should know that hardwoods and softwoods are far different from one another. If you’re looking to create the most heat, you should probably stick with hardwoods.

After all, they’re going to be a little denser. In return, this will give them the ability to produce a lot more heat. This is just another thing to take into account when attempting to choose the best wood to heat your home.


At the end of the day, the BTU rating is very unique. It is never universal and will always vary from one wood to the next. At the same time, the current condition of the wood will help determine the BTU. If your wood is still wet, you can guarantee that the BTU rating is going to be much lower.

This is why it is pertinent to make sure that your wood has been dried completely before it is burned. This is the best way to get the highest BTU rating and the most heat from your firewood.

Brian Koller

Growing up on a farm in eastern PA, I’ve grown fond of wildlife and the woods and learning about the critters and firewood and everything else in-between. I made this site to share my experiences and knowledge.

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