Oak firewood is a popular choice for many people who use firewood for heat. The wood is very dense, heavy and provides excellent heat for your home.
The oak species consists of about 600 different types of trees. The oak tree can live for 200 years and grow as tall as 100 feet.
The fruit of the oak tree is called the acorn. The trees start producing acorns when they are 20 years old. By the time the tree reaches 70-80 years old, the tree will be producing thousands of acorns.
Acorn production can vary from year to year and occurs in the fall. Acorn production depends on moisture, disease, temperature and the overall health of the tree.
Even in the most ideal conditions, the oak will only produce an excellent crop about every 4-10 years.
The acorn is an important food source for deer, turkeys, squirrels and many other wildlife. The acorn also serves as the seed for the oak tree, allowing the tree to spread and the species to survive.
However, only a small percentage of acorns actually become an oak tree. Only about 1 acorn in 10,000 will become an oak tree.
Three common species of oak are the northern red oak, white oak and pin oak.
The northern red oak, also called the champion oak, is commonly found throughout the eastern United States and Canada. The trees are moderate to fast growing and can thrive in a variety of soil conditions. The tress are a very common hardwood and are recognized by its distinctive corse grain pattern.
The trees are often used for its lumber because it's a very strong, durable wood that glues and machines well.
The red oak is commonly used to produce railroad ties, cabinets, flooring, caskets, furniture and lumber.
Firewood produced by the red oak is comparable to cherry or walnut. While not as hard as the white oak, the red oak is a nice hardwood suitable for many purposes.
The white oak is found throughout the eastern United States and Canada. The white oak is typically not a tall tree, growing 65-85 feet tall which is shorter than the red oak.
The acorns produced by the tree are sweeter and not nearly as bitter as the red oak. The acorns are an important food source for many animals.
The wood of the white oak is very strong and fine grained. The wood is harder than the red oak and its premium firewood is comparable to beech or maple.
The pin oak, also called the spanish swamp oak, is native to Northern American and is typically found in the eastern United States and southern Canada. The trees grow about 60-70 feet tall and live around 90-120 years.
The trees grow in swampy, lowland areas and produce a small thin acorns which are dispersed from September to December.
The pin oak is one of the most popular ornamental trees found in the United States. The trees thrive in low land, acidic soils, so if they are planted in poor soil with a low iron content the trees can become sick, causing the lower branches to droop.
The pin oak has several small dead branches that stick out from the trunk like "pins" resulting in the name of the tree.
While the pin oak is not as desirable for furniture, cabinets and flooring as the red oak, the tree still produces great firewood.
White oak will produce 26.4 million BTU's per cord.
Red oak will produce 24.6 million BTU's per cord.
Is oak the best firewood choice? Depending on who you ask the answer could be yes. The oak is an abundant tree that can supply a lot of great, dense, long burning firewood. If you burn oak firewood you will not be disappointed.
One thing I have found with oak is that it's difficult to split and takes a long time to season. At least one year is recommended for oak and maybe even longer. If you let the wood season, it will be worth the wait.
One unique characteristic of oak firewood is the smell after it has been cut. If I have a lot of oak stacked I can always smell it from several yards away. Some describe the smell as sweet while others describe it as a stinky, nasty smell. My thoughts.....well....it smells like heat to me!