Hardwood and softwood – a comparison

September 20, 2017

Choosing your firewood may not sound like the most impactful decision one must make when the topic of conversation is energy or heating a house. In reality this is far from the truth. Choosing intelligently will increase the warmth generated, longevity, and cleanliness of your firewood, ultimately yielding more bang for your buck. A good rule of thumb: always opt for hardwood.

Why? Here are the facts: The softer a variety of wood is, the shorter the burning process is, which has cascading implications on the rest of the heating process. For example, a longer-burning hardwood will lead to less downtime for your woodstove as you reload it, and will also lead to hotter temperatures.

Naturally, like all things, there’s more to the story here than simply “hardwood is superior”, and you’ll need to consider what’s best for you. Hardwood’s greater density means it takes longer to dry out and prepare for burning, which often means it’s going to cost more as well. Softwood, as an alternative, will require less preparation and time to dry, but will save some coin.

There are other implications at play when deciding what variety of firewood to order, and geography is certainly one of them. Compare Vancouver, which generates and distributes a significant supply of softwood to Nova Scotia, where hardwood production is king, and you’ll start to see how local sourcing is as impactful as preference.

At the end of the day, the cold Nova Scotia winters tend to see us leaning towards warmer fires that burn longer. Heating your home with firewood is a lot more attractive when reloading the stove is a rare occurrence!