White oak grows hardily from Minnesota to Texas and eastward to the Atlantic coast, reaching 100 feet in height and 50 inches in diameter.
Red oak, which gained its name from its fall brilliance, is confined to a narrower range than white oak, growing from the Great Lakes to Nova Scotia and south to Georgia.
Freshly cut, or green, wood retains water and is difficult to burn. White oak in particular must be seasoned before being burned. Allow it to dry out for at least one full year before using as firewood.
Moisture content in firewood and the temperature at which it is burned determines the amount of creosote that is produced in a chimney. Typically, soft woods such as pines--not hardwoods such as oaks--produce the most creosote.
Measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs), white oak ranks among the hottest burning woods in the United States, at 30,600,000 BTUs per cord of dried wood. Red oak generates 27,300,000 BTUs per cord.