Just to answer a few Questions and myths regarding
Hardwood vs Softwood
Firstly, it’s quite important to know the difference between the two types of wood. Hardwood fundamentally comes from trees that lose their leaves in the winter, so trees such as Oak, Ash, Beech etc. They are slow growing (80-100 years to maturity) and therefore provide a dense timber. In contrast softwood grows much faster maturing in 25-30 years and the timber is therefore less dense. Trees include Pine, Larch, Spruce and Douglas Fir etc.
So, how about their burning qualities? Lots of people say that you shouldn’t use softwood either because it burns too fast, produces too much resin in the chimney or smokes too much.
Well, in summary softwood is great for burning, but as with all wood fuel it has to be dried properly to a low moisture content. Whilst it has the same calorific value as hardwood by weight, being less dense means you require more logs to get the same weight, or energy output. As regards resins, there seems to be conflicting advice on this, but as long as the wood is dry the resins can actually act as supercharged fuel, so better, not worse than thought! As for smoke, well just like any other wood, if it’s not dried properly it will smoke.
One of the biggest advantages of softwood, if drying it yourself, is that it dries very quickly and probably takes half the time to dry and it’s also great for kindling. Much of the kindling sold today is softwood for this reason and the other benefit is that it gets the stove up to temperature very quickly which helps stove performance, increases ‘draw’ and reduces smoke.
When comparing hardwoods vs softwoods, it’s the density of the wood that makes all the difference. Pound for pound hardwoods and softwoods will create about the same amount of heat.
However, due to the difference in density, you may need twice the volume of softwood to compare to the same weight as hardwood