The Best Smelling Firewood “Hot List” – Try These!

Published Categorized as Lumber Journal

Out of all of our five senses, our ability to smell is oftentimes heavily overlooked. Smells affect our everyday life so much more than we give credit for, so it is only natural that if you’re wanting to burn a big old load of wood, you want it to smell absolutely amazing.

In other words, this article will be compiling some of the best smelling types of firewood on the market.

Table of Contents

Best Smelling Firewood

What wood should you burn?

Anyone experienced with wood will know that the best kind to burn is seasoned wood. This means that the wood has undergone a process known as seasoning. This is when the wood is dried out and has had most of its moisture content removed. Seasoned wood burns better as it smokes less, creating a nicer smell and also burning more efficiently and burning a lot hotter.

Wood is seasoned by exposing it to both sun and good airflow. Methods can be used to make this process much quicker and more efficient such as stacking the wood in particular ways like the Holz Hausen. You can identify seasoned wood as it will be dark in color and also a bit cracked.

The other type of wood that you can burn is called green wood. This is not ideal but it can still create a fire if it is needed. green wood is cheaper to buy than seasoned wood but is a lot harder to light and also creates a lot more smoke, which is not at all ideal. No one likes to sit in a cloud of smoke.

The type of wood, whether it be softwood or hardwood is also important. Softwood is better for a quick and easy-to-light fire but will finish burning relatively quickly. Whereas hardwood is a bit harder to get going but lasts for a lot longer thanks to its density.

The best smelling firewood

Everyone has their own preference on what smells the best, it’s what makes us unique as people. However, there are a few types of wood that people agree should be at the top of the list, and in no particular order those are:

  • Walnut
  • Pecan
  • Cedar
  • Pine
  • Oak
  • Hickory
  • Cherry
  • Apple

You can like any of these woods for their pleasant smells or their fragrant aroma, but there are other features about these woods that make them great candidates for burning. Some last for longer, some light a bit easier. It all depends on what you want to use the wood for.

For those of you who like to provide for yourselves, I will also discuss how to identify each type of tree so that you can gather your own firewood of your choosing.


Walnut is an average choice for firewood. By this, I mean that it has a nice earthy scent with hints of citrus. However, despite its scent, the walnut firewood itself doesn’t burn too well. It will keep you warm but is not the most efficient or hottest. It is hardwood, so it does burn for a good amount of time, thankfully.

To find a walnut tree, you are on the lookout for a tree with a color pattern ranging from light gray to dark brown. They also have lots of fissures and long-running ridges.


Pecan is only found in the southern parts of the united states such as Kentucky and Texas, which means it can be quite expensive to those without immediate access to these areas. As for its quality as firewood, pecan firewood smells great and burns really well too. The temperature reaches numbers surprisingly high which will keep you warm for ages. Pecan firewood is also said to be great for smoking meat as it adds a great flavor to the meat without overpowering the meat’s natural taste.

As said, pecan trees only grow in southern states of America, That being said, they are reddish-brown once fully grown and have thin green nuts attached to the tree during the summer. You can easily find local pecan orchards and pay the owners to let you cut one down, or even ask to see if they have some leftover for you.


Cedar is quite nice as you can burn smaller pieces of it even if they are yet to be seasoned. Cedar firewood is a good one to burn as it emits a pleasant aroma. The heat lasts for quite some time and also doesn’t spit much either. All in all, it smells decent and gives off quite good heat which makes cedar firewood completely usable for any day, but for a special occasion, it would leave you wanting something more.

Cedar trees are native to Lebanon and the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. They are adapted to mountainous climates but get planted in other places for the winter months such as the UK. Cedar trees are easy to spot as they have bluish-green needles on their branches as well as having cones that grow upwards opposed to dangling.


Pine is better used as kindling due to its high quantity of resinous sap. It can start a fire ridiculously quickly and gives off a good amount of heat. However, pine firewood spits a lot and can leave soot all over the place due to the resinous sap being burnt.

Similar to a cedar tree, a pine tree will have long needles on its branches. As well as this, pine trees are the home of pine cones. These are, as I’m sure you’re aware, large woody cones with big scales. Pine trees also grow quite tall and narrow.


Oak is one of the best firewoods due to it being hardwood and very dense. Oak firewood can be expensive as it takes significantly longer to season and remove the moisture content. Oak firewood burns slowly which means you have a long-lasting fire. The fragrance of oak is relatively subtle which can be seen as a good thing if you are not a fan of overwhelming scents.

Oak trees have really deep fissures and ridges, which makes them look scaled. The color of the tree log can range from a whitish-gray to being almost black. The leaves tend to be deeply lobed with either pointed or round tips.


Hickory firewood is arguably one of the better choices. Hickory is hardwood and burns hotter than its competitors such as oak or maple. This firewood also burns incredibly well due to how little moisture it holds, this is due to its density. However, that does make it quite tough to split. Hickory is also commonly used for cooking and smoking meats thanks to its sweet smell and wonderful aroma.

When fully matured, hickory trees have ridged gray bark which peels away easily from the tree. Aside from this, you can also spot a hickory tree by its leaves which have multiple on a single stem, growing oppositely from each other.


Cherry must be well seasoned before being burnt, but after this has a very pleasant smell and such a satisfying aroma. While burning, cherry firewood also doesn’t spit, which is a nice bonus. Cherry is a bit more costly compared to other hardwoods but that is made up for by its nice, non-smokey scent that is sure to make your house smell nice but not overwhelming.

Cherry trees can be identified thanks to their reddish-brown color that is on a smooth log. Some cherry trees have horizontal bands that can be peeled off, and also can have a lot of small pores covering the tree to help it breathe better below the bark.


Apple firewood has a sweet and fruity smell that perfectly complements many foods and meats, such as seafood. On top of this, apple firewood also burns very hot but slowly, making it perfect firewood with a classic sweet smell. Due to how good it is for smoking meats, apple firewood can be expensive due to high demand.

Apple trees are quite short in comparison to other trees, so to identify them you are looking for trees that are around 10 meters tall. Apple trees also have leaves with a wooly texture on their stem, and also can have large green to red fruits on them which are, in fact, apples. The bark covering the apple wood can be grey in color and have bumps, scales, or ridges.

The most affordable best smelling firewood

Unfortunately, similar to wearable fragrances, better-smelling things will be a lot more expensive. Not everyone has access to the top-rated firewood, and some people also do not have access to seasoned firewood. Because of this, it is best to try and find a nice middle ground between price and quality.

If you are planning on buying your firewood from a retailer then it is good to know which ones have great smells and a unique aroma, without being really expensive.

  • Walnut
  • Oak
  • Cherry

These are the top choices when it comes to affordable firewood. They are all widely accessible which means the pricing of getting them will not be too high. Out of the three, cherry will most likely be the most expensive due to how long its seasoning process is.

All three types of wood offer a unique pleasant smell while also burning hot without going out quickly. The oak firewood offers a more subtle smell, whereas the walnut will have a deeper earthy smell. Cherry has a mild smell but is sweeter than the other two. However, all three of them smell good.

Why is firewood so expensive?

There are many reasons why any type of firewood can be expensive. One of the main reasons some people are deterred from burning their own firewood is because of the price, so if you are interested in starting; it is best to understand why it costs as much as it does.

Tree accessibility

Similar to other natural delights such as plants and flowers, trees acclimatize to certain areas of the world and can limit themselves to only growing there. Because of this, the firewood becomes more expensive as you have to import it from said location to your house or point of use.

If a tree is only found in Europe, and you are in America then it will be very expensive to have that wood delivered to your house. However, if that same tree was local to you it would cost significantly less.

Another factor that comes under this, is high demand. Trees that are only growing in one area cannot be planted as much as a more common tree, this leads to lower quantities being harvested while demand may be a lot higher than the rate of production. This means the price will increase due to the high demand for that firewood.

Seasoning process

As mentioned, the seasoning process is crucial for most woods if you are intending to use them as firewood. The seasoning process, for those unaware, is when the wood is dried and has almost all of its moisture content removed so that it burns better and does not have incomplete combustion. Incomplete combustion leads to a lot of black smoke and a harsher scent, which is less than ideal for something you intend to burn for pleasure.

If you are wondering why a seasoning process can affect price, it is all about time. The famous phrase “time is money” is quite literal here. Some trees have higher moisture content in their wood which leads to them needing longer to dry, this takes up space and time of whoever is seasoning said wood, so they will most likely charge a premium for this service.

Other woods with lower moisture content will sell for lower prices as they do not require as much time to season. Seasoning takes up a lot of space, depending on the method, so it is only natural that a firewood retailer would weigh up the pros and cons of this.

The worst smelling firewood

As is the way of the natural world, everything is equal. Just as there is always light and darkness, there is also good and bad-smelling wood. Obviously, it is still subjective if they are bad or not but a lot of people report these woods to be as such.

  • Elm
  • Silver Maple
  • Buckeye

Depending on where they grow, some trees have naturally bad smells thanks to the type of soil and water it was absorbing their minerals from. Trees found in swamps typically smell bad and give off horrible odors when burnt.

This bad smell is doubled if the wood is green as the moisture content is still very high and incomplete combustion will take place, which creates smoke that is harsh and will smell bad.


While there is not necessarily a “best-smelling firewood”, there are some that are noticeably better than the others. It all depends on personal preference and your use of the firewood itself.

You can easily decide what to get based on your preferred scents. For example, your choice will change depending on if you like a sweet smell or prefer a more earthy smoke smell. Not only is it dependent on your favored smell, but also on your desired use of the firewood. If you want to simply warm your house with a nice aroma, then you may choose something subtle and light. However, if instead, you wanted to start smoking meat or smoking fish then you may opt for something more noticeable with a pleasant smoky aroma.

By Dave Cross

Hi, I'm Dave. I’ve been sawing for more than 40 years. I feel most at home when I’m surrounded by nature and my saws, but occasionally, I’ll share some of my know-how and experience on Cross Saw Mill.

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