With so many varieties of trees available as firewood, the ‘burning’ question should be 'which burns better?' This isn’t simply a question of ignition, it is about usage, cost, aesthetics, and sustainability.

Birch and Ash differing characteristics

Whilst birch and ash are easy favourites on the market and widely available, they both have different burning characteristics, and each has its own advantages. If you own a fireplace, log burning stove, outdoor oven, fire pit or chiminea, it’s important to be fully versed on which is best. It might also be interesting to ask yourself what you really know about the wood you are burning.

'Lady of the woods'

The slender birch, prized for its versatility and healing properties, is native to the northern hemisphere and is a hardwood tree, sometimes referred to as ‘Lady of the woods’. In Celtic times, it was associated with growth, fertility and adaptability because of its many uses which include papermaking, canoe building, homeopathy, and its use as a ‘tone’ wood in the manufacture of speakers. Birches are favoured by gardeners and growers alike for their durability and fast-growing speed and they look beautifully symmetrical when stacked in your fireplace. They summon up images of Scandinavian homes and healthy outdoor fun.

The 'Tree of life’

The feminine ash tree, known for her beautiful, winged fruits, or 'keys’ is a fast-growing species. It is prone to an arboreal disease, hymenoscyphus fraxineus, more commonly known as ash dieback, which is a problem for the variety. It is tall and graceful and one of the most robust hardwoods. It has always been used to make tool handles, hockey sticks and furniture and can live up to 400 years. Favoured by the Druids to make their wands, the ash has long been thought to ward off evil spirits and its wood was burnt accordingly. In Norse mythology, it was known as the tree of life. Ash firewood is a favourite in the UK, admired for its long burn duration and is often recommended by stove manufacturers and suppliers. It gives off a pleasant flame and consistent heat.

Birch vs Ash firewood – the Best uses for each variety

We recommend to customers (where budget allows) buying some of each or birch or ash logs. So, comparing birch vs ash firewood is not entirely fair, they are quite different to each other. It is a little bit like asking “What are best – apples or oranges?” There is no definitive answer, it depends on the opinion!

Birch Logs for burning

Birch firewood is popular, easy to buy and is often recommended for use in pizza ovens and for outdoor entertaining. Like ash, birch is a hardwood and is therefore good for alfresco cooking because it comes to temperature quickly and delivers a solid level of heat. Kiln-dried birch firewood smokes less than other varieties of firewood and gives off a pleasant, subtle aroma which is a bonus if you plan to sit around it and therefore popular for fire pits and also for indoor use. This wood ignites easily, which makes it a good partner with other types of wood and gives a pleasant flame. Its eagerness to burn makes it ideal for those who want a short blaze in the evening which gets going fast and delivers a cheery glow. Once, the fire is over, birch logs are low in sap, so they will not leave a sticky residue on your fireplace or chimney.

Ash Logs for burning

Ash is yellow in colour with a defined grain structure. It is slightly denser than birchwood, meaning it is better for sustained use. If you prefer to keep your fire going throughout the day, ash might be a better choice for you. Because of its density and high calorific value, one single kiln dried log can burn for an hour, producing 4KW of sustainable heat. Ash logs for burning are low in resin, meaning they won’t spark or spit. Whilst it isn’t recommended, it can even be burned green. Like all logs, it produces the best heat output when kiln dried. Ash also produces good quality coals, a consideration which is a bonus when restarting the fire, the next day. Ash logs are slow to ignite, which is why they mix well with birch, which easily ignites.

But what about the cost?

Because demand is always so very high for ash, and partly due to its current problems with ash dieback, birch logs do work out slightly cheaper, but not significantly. When one examines the BTU, or British Thermal Unit rating, ash delivers 24.2 and birch comes in at 20.8. A BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1bl of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. There is a slight difference here, but surely only the most avid dendrologist would lose serious sleep over a few points.

What is indisputable is that electricity prices are always rising and average out at 18.9 pence per KW hour, at the time of writing. Wood averages at 4.29 pence per KW hour, which is a significant difference in price and one worth bearing in mind. Another irrefutable fact is that electricity doesn’t have a warm glow, a charming crackle, or the ability to lower one’s blood pressure. Indeed, a recent study conducted by the University of Alabama discovered that people's blood pressure was reduced by 5% when they spent time in front of a lit fireplace.

Is it good for planet earth?

At Cozilogs, we source our wood from responsibly managed, sustainable British woodland. We use local virgin timber that carries BSC/FSL certification, and all our birch or ash logs for burning are kiln-dried hardwood with a moisture content of less than 20%, which is certified as ‘Ready to Burn’ by Woodsure. Our birch or ash logs are also dried at carbon-neutral drying facilities, proving that we really are high on heat and low on emissions!

As a waste product, wood ash can also be used as a booster for your soil as it contains magnesium, phosphorus, aluminium, and sodium, which can rebalance your PH levels. It is a fantastic slug repellent, mops up unsightly garage oil spills and can even be used to clean silver and glass. Adding a dose to your compost can also enrich the end product. It is also a fact that both ash and birch produce less creosote when burning, which is a tar that can cause issues in your chimney or flue pipe over time.

Products on our website

Here at Cozilogs, we stock a terrific range of ash logs and birch wood logs in all weights in nets, crates, and bags. We also stock pizza oven logs, briquettes, and charcoal. Our website is full of useful information, and we offer fast, free delivery on orders over £100, so whatever your choice of birch vs ash firewood, we are here to help.

Contact us about buying birch or ash logs

Hopefully, this article will help you in your deliberations about birch vs ash firewood. We often think when customers are considering buying birch or ash logs for burning, why not buy both if your budget allows it? Their different burning qualities make birch and ash complementary purchases.

Contact Cozilogs in any of the following ways: