A common heat source for modern-day saunas is an electric sauna heater, but for sauna purists, a wood-burning stove tends to be the favored choice. A wood-fired sauna has a traditional feel with a crackling fire and temperatures that can reach up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the most efficient sauna types.
However, to build a fire that maintains the ideal sauna temperature, you must be sure you're using the best logs. You want your sauna to be as efficient as possible. If you’re unsure of the best types of logs for wood burning stoves, then keep reading. By the end of this article, you'll learn everything about the different types of logs you can use for your wood-burning sauna and which ones might be best for your purpose.
Why the Type of Wood You Burn Matters
Whatever choice you make for your wood-burning sauna, there are several factors to remember for an amazingconventional sauna experience. What you burn in your wood-burning stove is vital to your sauna's longevity and performance. Whether you use a delivery service or harvest your own firewood, understanding the pros and cons of various wood species will help you make the best choice. Wood species impacts how well your wood-burning stove performs in several areas.
Your wood stove's efficiency significantly depends on the wood type you're burning. Resinous (oily) woods and softwoods usually burn inefficiently. As a result, eucalyptus, aspen, pine, and others don't make the ideal firewood for a wood-burning sauna.
Selecting firewood from a typically resinous wood might create a cloud of thick black smoke. This smoke clouds your stove's front glass, making cleaning the glass more difficult.
Selecting resinous and soft firewood can negatively impact the reliability of your wood-burning stove. In addition, resinous firewood can also emit harsh chemicals on your wooden stove's internal parts, affecting its performance.
More precisely, it’s the catalytic combustor and the combustion fan of the catalyst that can be negatively impacted over time by resinous output. On the other hand, hardwoods provide lesser wear and tear on wood stoves making them the ideal logs for wood burning stoves.
Burning softwoods and resinous woods create a potential safety hazard in your home. These woods produce high amounts of creosote, which accumulates within the chimney and is the main cause of chimney fires in wood-burning stoves.
Softwoods vs. Hardwoods
Softwoods are ideal for kindling, while hardwoods are the preferred logs for wood burning stoves as they can maintain a slow-burning fire with excellent heat output.
Softwoods are from the conifer family trees. These are trees with needles, such as pine, cedar, and hemlock. Wood from softwoods catches fire easily and quickly but will produce more creosote than hardwoods. Softwoods are ideal for getting your fire going.
For instance, a few small pieces of pine make excellent kindling and, when minimally used, won't lead to the build-up of creosote. It's important to note that softwoods contain resin and sap that, when burned, leaves excessive creosote. Softwood can generate a pleasing flame to look at but burns quickly, meaning that you'll use a large wood volume in a short time.
Softwoods are often preferred for the following qualities:
They are a cheaper option
They're great for starting the fire
They absorb heat from the steam
They have a slower heating time with a faster burn
They can handle higher temperatures
They have a more pliable consistency
They're easier to cut and work with
Hardwoods are wood types from deciduous trees. Deciduous trees have a slower growth rate than coniferous trees resulting in denser and harder wood.
Hardwoods can be harder to ignite from cold despite offering a more efficient fuel source. So, once you start your fire with softwood, you should fuel the fire with a hardwood, such as oak, to maintain a slow-burning fire with excellent heat output.
All types of wood should be well seasoned before burning. The best firewood should have a moisture content below 30% for burning. The wood density also determines how long it'll be seasoned. For example, oak, a very dense wood, can take up to 2 years to season completely.
The Best Type of Wood to Use for Your Wood-Burning Sauna Heater
You have various fuel options when it comes to a wood-burning sauna heater. While you can use any type of logs for wood burning stoves, as mentioned previously, hardwoods are better than softwoods when it comes to long-term burning. Any non-resinous hardwood can provide a good burn with dependable heat. The most recommended logs for wood burning stoves are the following:
Oak is well-known for its long, slow burns, making it the ideal firewood wood for your stove. Oak is a dense hardwood found throughout the North American region. Although it can take longer to be properly seasoned than other wood types, it produces the best fire for your stove. Oak is the top favorite and arguably one of the best logs for your wood burning stove.
Ash is easy to split and burns steadily, making it one of the best logs for your wood burning stove. It is primarily found in central and eastern North America, while also being readily available in other areas, such as the West Coast of the United States.
Ash is available in white and green varieties and maintains low smoke points. This makes favorite firewood for people who are sensitive to the smell of burning wood.
Maple firewood burns like Ash, and when correctly seasoned, it provides long and steady burns on your stove. Maple is found in the United States, making it a favorite firewood option for wood-burning stoves.
Apple wood produces an appealing smell with a low smoke output. Fruitwoods have appealing scents making them a popular logs for wood burning stoves. Apple is easy to split and needs a shorter seasoning time than other hardwood types. Moreover, apple has one of the highest BTU ratings of 27 per second.
Birch and Beech
Other common logs for wood burning stoves are birch and beech. These logs require a significantly longer seasoning time than most woods. Mostly, these woods are provided by kiln drying companies instead of those seasoning wood naturally. The best thing about these woods is that they have an intensely long burning time and a high BTU rating of 27 per second.
Other common logs for wood burning stoves include these softwood and hardwood types:
The Best Way to Feed Your Outdoor Wood-Burning Sauna
If you have your ownoutdoor sauna, you can use an inside or an outside feed. Sauna experts recommend using an inside feed for the following reasons:
Inside feeding is convenient, visually appealing since you can look at the firelight, and it also makes cleanup easy.
Installing achimney kit is cheaper than wall feeding, as metal clearances and framing will are required to set up an outside feed.
You can lose up to 25% of the heat in your sauna when using the outside feed, according to a Finnish sauna stove maker.
How to Stack Your Firewood
Let's look at some of the best ways to stack your logs for wood storage.
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Keep your logs as dry as possible
Always keep your logs and wood from getting damp or wet. Damp or wet logs won't burn or will emit excess smoke clogging your flue or even escaping into your room. So, cover your logs outside with a hard cover with a wood panel propped up at both ends. This keeps the rain off while allowing air to circulate, drying your logs and wood.
Avoid stacking your logs on the ground
Firewood requires constant air circulation to remain dry and combustible for the best burning. You can use an old wooden pallet as a base which contains many gaps for optimal air circulation.
Ensure your logs are covered
Although your logs are covered, ensure at least one side is open. This is especially important if using polythene as the cover because the logs need to breathe to prevent sweating. On the other hand, if you keep your logs indoors, you should use a log holder or indoor storage. A great way to keep your logs off the ground, dry, and covered is to use a specific wood barrel storage (pictured above).
While you can use any wood type for your wood-burning sauna, as you have learned in this article, some types of wood are better than others. Softwoods are better for starting or initiating your fire, because of their faster and hotter burn time. Common softwood types include cedar, redwood, spruce, fir, and pine. Hardwoods are better for keeping your fire going at a steady rate, due to their long, slow burn and ability to endure drastic temperature changes. However, they can be more expensive. The most common types include maple, oak, cherry, poplar, birch, and walnut. As a precaution, avoid wood containing sap and do not use wood that is green, stained, or that has been painted.