Wood species burn at distinctive rates and temperatures, but even the lowly, snapping white pine logs, if dry, will burn circles around the best wet oak firewood. Wood that has been seasoned at least a year burns hotter and cleaner than fresh-cut wood, and it doesn't build up creosote deposits that cause chimney fires, but the hardest woods need to dry for two to three years. In general, hardwoods are denser and burn hotter than the faster-drying and easier-to-start softwoods. Denser wood requires lots of kindling to ignite, a role performed well by the false cedars, like western red cedar.
This exceptionally hard and dense species burns extremely hot and long.
Very difficult to split, hickory burns hotter than other commonly used firewood and is not too difficult to start.
Oak (especially white oak)
Another very hot-burning wood, oak will leave hot coals for days and produces very little smoke or sparks. Splitting oak logs is difficult and the dense wood is hard to start. Oak should optimally be seasoned for two years.
Nearly as compact as oak, beech burns very hot and is easier to split than oak.
A great medium-to-hot burning fuel, the birch species is split without much difficulty and is relatively smokeless, spark-free and easy to light.
Common ash species are terrific, mostly spark- and smoke-free candidates for firewood. They burn in the medium-to-hot range.
Dogwood combines hot and easy burning with easy splitting and minimal smoke and sparks.
Both soft and hard maples are chores to split, but burn elegantly when properly seasoned, the softer ones at medium heat and the harder ones quite hot.
"True" firs, like noble, grand, silver
Wonderful smelling, medium-hot burning firs are marvelous and plentiful firewood species. Fir dries quickly, so it requires a short seasoning time.
Doug-fir lights easily, burns hot and splits cleanly, but it's quite smoky.
Pines (especially yellow pine)
Somewhat smoky and sparky, pines split and light with ease and burn at varying heats by specific species.