Baby, you can light my fire

There are few things more enjoyable than sitting around an open fire with your sweetheart or loved ones. Whether it’s the smell you know will permeate your clothes the next day, the crackle in the air, or simply nostalgia, it all begins with firewood.

Burn it where you buy it, or grow your own I Photo: Pixabay
Burn it where you buy it, or consider growing your own | Photo: Pixabay


Firewood is either seasoned (dry) or unseasoned (fresh/wet).

Depending on where you live, there may be specific areas for firewood collection.

  • Deadfall—parts of the tree have fallen but not yet rotted—is good for firewood, as it is already partially seasoned. Standing dead timber is considered even better as there’s usually less dirt on the trunk and it’s also partially seasoned.
  • Many folks will cut down trees to collect firewood, either for personal use or for profit.
  • Individuals can cut down trees on their own private property or, if they have a government permit, on public land.
  • Check with your local government for more information about permits. If you live in Alberta, check out this article.


If you are interested in planting your own trees for firewood purposes, there are a number of good species from which to choose.

  • Hardwoods comes from deciduous trees which shed their leaves annually, while softwood comes from conifers, which usually keep their leaves.
  • Heavier hardwoods like Maple and Oak produce more heat because of their density and have a slower burn.
  • Softwoods, such as Birch, Pine, Spruce and Poplar, aren’t as dense, so they burn more quickly with less heat released. Some people even grow specific kinds of Birch because they like the smell it releases when burned, and it creates less ash; White Birch remains a favourite among consumers. If one of your shelterbelt trees dies, collect the deadfall and give it a second chance by feeding your fire pit or fireplace.
  • The number of British Thermal Units (BTUs) per cord of wood varies depending on the wood’s density. Click here for a comparison of BTUs per cord of common types of firewood.

Buy It Where You Burn It

Buying and burning firewood close to home prevents the accidental spread of invasive tree-killing insects and diseases from area to area. Check out the Government of Canada’s article about the risks of moving firewood.