Christmas might be over. 2019 might be here, but the winter is far from over. In fact, it is just starting and you have many cold months ahead of you.
Maybe you are looking to switch your firewood or maybe you are just looking to install your first wood stove. Whatever the situation is, you certainly have a lot of wood sources available to you.
So, what is the down-low with oak wood? Can it provide you with the heat that you need and does it burn?
Is Oak Good Firewood?
Oak firewood is an extremely popular choice when it comes to burning fuel. And, this is because it is so dense, heavy and provides an excellent source of heat.
In fact, the oak tree alone is impressive as it can live up to 200 years and can grow as high as 100 feet.
Many woodstove occupants also prefer oak because it has the properties that allow it to burn slow and produce a high amount of BTUs.
However, it does take a little longer for this wood to become seasoned, but once it is dry it will provide you with the long lasting hot heat that other woods can’t provide.
Oak might provide a ton of heat and long burning time, but it is without a doubt going to be one of the hardest woods there are to split.
In fact, if the wood is not properly dried your ax is just going to bounce off like you are hitting rubber. However, after the proper drying time, you will be able to identify the weak spots and attack the wood with accuracy.
The trick to splitting oak is to start on the outside. Don’t strike it dead in the middle and expect it to split into two big sections.
You want to work your way around the wood like the motion of a clock striking the outside and working your way toward the middle.
A good wood wedge wouldn’t hurt either. Remember that there are log splitters available as well, but these machines are extremely expensive and a residential splitter might not even split oak that isn’t fully dried.
You don’t want to take the risk of ruining your splitter. It is probably best to wait until the wood is fully cured.
[If you’re new to splitting wood, I wrote a helpful guide on how to do it. You can check it out here, How to split wood by hand]
Drying Oak Firewood
Another downside to oak is that it takes an extremely long time to dry. You can ask many experts and they will tell you that it takes anywhere from one year to three years for certain species of oak to dry.
However, if you are in a hurry to put the wood to use, you might be able to get away with six months of dry time. What you want to do is find a nice sheltered location and store the wood inside making sure that you are keeping it off the ground.
Keeping it off the ground will be key because if you do not do this it will cause the wood to soak up more moisture and you will just simply be wasting your time. Check back after six months and try splitting the wood.
If you want some tips on seasoning your firewood, check out my guide on how I do it. How to dry wet firewood
Oak Firewood BTU
While there are several different species of oak wood available, it is the white oak and the red oak that is the most popular. And, this is because they produce the highest BTUs.
This will be more than enough heat to provide you with the heat that you need to keep yourself and your family warm throughout these upcoming winter months.
If you want to learn about firewood BTUs, check out my article on it. It has a chart also if you want to look up what another type of wood BTU is. BTU Of Firewood
Is oak the best firewood choice? It really comes down to whom you ask, but it is pretty evident that oak is an abundant tree that can supply dense, long burning firewood.
If you use oak, you can rest assured that you will not be disappointed. However, if you are doing the cutting, drying, and storing you might have another opinion as these are the major downside to the oak firewood.
It should also be noted that oak firewood has a distinct sweet smell when it is cut. You will be able to smell it from several yards away.