Firewood BTU Chart and Heating Oil Equivalent

Different species of firewood put out different amounts of heat per cord.

The following chart is based off of info obtained from the Massachusetts Association of Professional Foresters. It shows Wood Species, Heat Output (per air-dry cord) and the Equivalent Gallons of heating oil per cord:

Species Heat output per air-dry cord Equivalent gallons of heating oil
Hickory 24.6 million BTU's 146 gallons @ $2.00 = $292
White oak 22.7 million BTU's 135 gallons @ $2.00 = $270
Beech 21.8 million BTU's 130 gallons @ $2.00 = $260
Red oak 21.3 million BTU's 127 gallons @ $2.00 = $254
Hard maple 21.3 million BTU's 127 gallons @ $2.00 = $254
Yellow birch 21.3 million BTU's 127 gallons @ $2.00 = $254
Ash 20.0 million BTU's 119 gallons @ $2.00 = $238
Soft maple 18.6 million BTU's 111 gallons @ $2.00 = $222
Black cherry 18.4 million BTU's 110 gallons @ $2.00 = $220
Paper birch 18.3 million BTU's 108 gallons @ $2.00 = $216
Poplar 12.5 million BTU's 74 gallons @ $2.00 = $148

As you can see from the chart above, the harder the wood is the more heat you get from it.

Burning softwoods like pine will not give you the heat output that the hardwoods like oak and maple will. Because softwood (and unseasoned hardwood) does not burn as hot as good, hard, well seasoned wood, it leaves behind un-burned creosote. This will increase your risk of a chimney or flue fire.

If you do burn softwood or unseasoned hardwood, make sure you clean your chimney or flue several times during the burning season to prevent any problems.

Another thing you can take away from this chart is the need for firewood prices to be relative to the heating oil price. It is much easier to buy heating oil for $2/gallon and turn up the thermostat than it is to stack, carry and burn firewood at $250+ a cord.

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Keywords: firewood, btu chart, cord, wood, Hickory, White oak, Beech, Red oak, Hard maple, Yellow birch, Ash, Soft maple, Black cherry, Paper birch, Poplar, heating oil equivalent

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Comments & Reviews:

Posted by Mike from Ashton, ON on 10/14/09

Mentioning “Cord” is pointless unless you are clear about whether it really is a full cord or a facecord. It seems to be standard practice that when people say cord they really mean face cord.
With the fluctuating energy prices and vastly different wood prices from region to region, an article like this becomes completely pointless unless it’s clear what is meant by “cord”.

~Mike

Posted by Darren on 10/14/09

Thank you for your input, but I am in Massachusetts and when someone says “cord” they mean a “full cord” or 128 cubic feet (4’x4’x8’) of firewood. No one here sells face cords.

“Massachusetts law specifically prohibits the term “face cord” from being used in advertising the sale of cordwood or firewood.”—MA Consumer Affairs Office

Posted by Finn from Yport on 10/18/09

Good chart.  How about adding locust as we have a good deal of it here on Cape?

Posted by Darren on 10/19/09

The only Locust figures I could find were for “Black Locust” and it says 28.1 Million Btu here.

If it is Black Locust we have here on the Cape, 28.1 would put it at the top of the list.

There is a good list of other types of wood and burn output here.

Posted by Finn from YPort on 10/19/09

Not sure if it’s black locust, but it burns real hot, so it probably is.

Posted by Bob from Manchester, NH on 06/17/10

Where are you burning the wood to get the oil equivalent gallons of heat? In a modern wood burning stove I have seen figures in the 160 gallon range for a cord of mixed hardwoods. At a current price of $2.669 per gallon of home heating fuel a wood stove makes even more sense. And for the environmentally conscience, burning wood is carbon neutral so it is much better for the environment, especially in a modern wood stove that produces very little smoke (about the equivalent of 2 cigarettes per hour).

Posted by Darren on 06/17/10

See above: “info obtained from the Massachusetts Association of Professional Foresters”

Posted by Dave from North Central Maryland on 08/10/11

For those of you interested in burning wood for heat ... Check out www.tarmusa.com or www.woodboilers.com

I have a wood boiler that uses wood gasification in burning @ 82% efficiency. Most wood stoves only deliver mid to upper 40% efficiency.
Well worth the look or read. Super happy with my Tarm Boiler as it is my primary sorch of heat but has auto oil backup if desired.

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