The difference between hardwood and softwood

1. Kiln density is the main differentiator between softwood and hardwood.

2. Both types of wood have their use as firewood.

3. Hardwoods burn more strongly and longer. 

4. Softwoods are the better fire starters.

Hardwood or softwood? Which one to choose:

Wood has always been an important material for humans. Whether for building a house, producing important furniture and equipment or simply used as a basis for heating and cooking, wood was and is a material without which everyday life would be difficult to imagine. But no matter how commonplace wood may be as a resource in all our lives, many people just do not know the difference between hard- and softwood. Why is it so important to know the distinction between the two, especially regarding their use as firewood?


Wood is not just wood; that’s a fact, regardless of the purpose for which the natural material will be used. As a natural material, wood has special properties that divide all known types of wood into deciduous and coniferous trees (or wood), and hardwood and softwood. This distinction is important not only for classification but also for its usability.


Differences between hard and soft types of wood

The distinction between hardwood and softwood is remarkably simple: the so-called kiln density of the wood divides wood into hardwood or softwood. The kiln density (density of the wood at 0% water content) is an indicator based on the fiber density of the wood and, thus, the narrowness of its underlying cell structure. Originally introduced by the timber trade as an inch measure, today, the kiln density divides all types of wood into softwoods and hardwoods. If the kiln density is below 1,000lbs/cubic yard (approximately), then the wood is considered softwood; otherwise, it is hardwood.


Hardwood or Softwood - Which wood type is the best firewood?

The question of the perfect firewood offers scope for heated discussions. Whether it is better to use hardwood or softwood for your fireplace is often a question of personal choice. Every type of wood has certain advantages and disadvantages regarding its use as firewood. Knowing these pros and cons makes it easy to find the right kind of wood for heating.


Softwood is the better kindling!

In principle, any form of wood can be used to ignite a fire. But soft types of wood, turned into kindling, are generally best suited to quickly get the embers going. Due to its lower fiber content, softwood ignites and burns more easily and, therefore, faster. Soft types of wood are, therefore, perfect as kindling to ignite stove or fireplace fires and supply quick heat.


Hardwood is the better firewood!

Once the fire in the fireplace or stove has started, you should switch from softwood to hardwood. This is because the low fiber density of softwood means that the wood burns quickly and therefore offers neither a good calorific value nor a satisfactory burning time. Hardwoods are definitely the better choice here. Thanks to their high fiber content in the wood (kiln density), hardwood types such as cherry wood or oak, pear, apple, etc., have a higher calorific value and a noticeably longer burning time. The log burns more slowly, gives off more and longer heat and thus reduces the need for firewood.


Traditional fireplaces

If you do not have a gas starter fireplace, a mixture of softwoods and hardwoods could work best for you. Softwood is perfect for lighting stoves, and hardwood is perfect for heating. Since softwood is generally cheaper than hardwood, a mix of the two is cheaper than just buying hardwood. 


Gas starter fireplaces

If you operate your fireplace with a gas starter, just getting hardwood might be your better choice.


Rancho La Casa offers a mix of softwoods and hardwoods, consisting of 1/3 softwoods and 2/3 hardwoods.  All woods have been tested for moisture content, and we will guarantee that the moisture content is at or below 20% at the time of delivery.

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