Hardwood v Softwood

We are often asked which type of wood should I buy? Hardwood or softwood?

At Edinburgh Wood Fuel we suggest that you use a mixture of firewood:

  • Softwood, alongside kindling to get your fire going; and
  • Hardwood once your fire is established to give you a steady burn.

Softwood can also be used if you want to freshen up your wood burner or for a quick heat.

This is why we have a selection of EWF Special Deals that contain a mix of hardwood, softwood and kindling.


Softwood generally comes from conifer, cone-bearing, evergreen trees. Common species are larch, spruce and pine. Softwoods grow faster than hardwood species resulting in a much lighter, less dense piece of wood.

Softwood tends to have a higher proportion of resins and volatile oils which leads to a greater calorific value when compared to hardwood species. As a result, softwood logs are ideal for starting a fire as they are easier to light than hardwood. They are great if you want to build a quick fire that warms your room quickly. Softwood can also be used to freshen up a dull looking fire.

Softwood logs are likely to produce large flames and they will crackle and spark. We would therefore not recommend using softwood on an open fire.

Due to its property’s softwood is used to make our kindling.


Hardwood usually comes from broad-leaf trees that typically lose their leaves in the autumn. Common species of hardwood are oak, beech, ash, cherry, sycamore and birch.

Due to their density hardwood will burn for longer, creating a hot long-lasting fire with minimal smoke or sparks. It will create hot coals which will give off heat for a long period of time.

However, hardwood is a lot harder to light than softwood and it will not produce as much of a flame. Hardwood is therefore best added to a fire once you have it established. It is best used to keep a fire going.