Your evening can be made special by a campfire, but maintaining one can be difficult. To keep it going, the proper quantity of wood is required.
You’ll need the following amount of wood to maintain your campfire’s lighting:
Burn Time – Number of Firewood Bundles Required
- 2 hours = 1-2
- 4 hours = 3-4
- 6 hours = 5-6
- Nighttime: 8 to 10
A bundle of firewood should last for around an hour, although cooking, the environment, and the type of wood can all affect that.
For a campfire, how much wood will I need?
For a campfire, you need about 4-5 logs per hour of burn time. In terms of bundles per hour, this translates to one bundle or less. You will use 6–10 logs, or roughly two bundles, per hour if you are cooking.
It’s not always that easy, though. There are many variables at play here. How much wood you burn in an hour will depend on a number of factors, including the type of wood, the weather, and more.
It’s better to have too many bundles than not enough, so I suggest packing more than you’ll need.
If you camp often or are taking a long trip, you might think about checking into cords of wood.
However, the amount of wood you actually require won’t vary significantly from the figures given above.
You can see an overview of the number of bundles you’ll need for various burn periods in the table below. It also provides the amount of sticks you’ll need, which I calculated based on how many sticks are typically bundled together.
What Are Cords And Bundles?
Wood is not a particularly big object. Typically, they contain five or six sticks. The sticks are normally five inches in diameter and 14 inches long. In most circumstances, you can purchase a package for less than $10.
If you’re going to be away for one or two nights and you know how long you’ll be keeping the campfire going, I advise acquiring a few bundles of wood.
A cord, however, is 128 cubic feet of timber. A cord of wood contains between 600 and 800 pieces, and the stack is 45 feet high and 8 feet long. You could spend hundreds of dollars on this, but it might last you for years.
Things That Influence The required amount of wood
Everything said above is a general rule. Based on the burn rate, a variety of factors can affect how much wood you’ll need. I therefore advise carrying more than is necessary.
When addressing the question, “How long do campfires last?,” I go into considerable length on this. I also offer advice on how to extend the life of your campfire.
However, you’ll see some of the factors that may make it more difficult to predict how much wood you’ll need for your fire on any particular day below.
When it comes to your campfire, the wind plays a significant role. In case the flames are too small, it may blow them out. If it’s cold outside, it could be difficult to build up enough heat to start a fire, especially if the wood is chilly.
Room temperature, or 20°C/68°F, is the ideal temperature for firewood. Unfortunately, there are no statistics that specify the precise temperature at which your wood will or will not burn. Nothing indicates how much wood you will require for various weather conditions.
Maintaining a raging fire is difficult as well during rain. You risk having wet wood. I mention this in passing when giving advice on how to camp in the rain.
If it has been snowing, your wood can also be too wet to use, which is particularly difficult because you need a way to stay warm when you are camping in the winter. If you can’t keep your fire lit, I do have 41 recommendations for staying warm while camping in the cold.
The aforementioned tables are as exact as they can be if you only utilise your fire for heating. All you’re doing is steadily burning through the wood.
Contrarily, cooking consumes a greater amount of the fire’s energy. Depending on the type of cooking you’re doing, you virtually need to double your firewood use every hour.
You might just need one or two extra logs every hour if you’re heating things. Over an open flame, something can be heated quickly and easily.
It’s going to take a little longer if you’re boiling stuff. Depending on how much liquid you’re boiling and the container it’s in, you might need an extra two or three logs in an hour.
It always takes the longest to make something from scratch, especially if you have to cook the meat, toast the bread, prepare the vegetables, bake something, and more.
The most extra logs per hour are needed when cooking from scratch, so be sure to bring at least two more bundles than you anticipate.
Type of Wood
The type of wood also has a significant impact on how much firewood you will use. Softwood is an excellent approach to start a fire when it’s really chilly or raining outside. It burns through swiftly yet ignites easily.
You should switch to hardwood once you have a strong fire burning. It produces less smoke and burns more slowly. For frequent campfires, hardwood will always be the best option, whereas softwood is suitable for enormous, smokey bonfires.
What Sort Of Wood Is Appropriate For A Campfire?
The hardwoods listed below are great for use in a fire. I also offer advice on where and how to get this wood.
A typical hardwood for a fire is oak. It’s one of the most widely used types of campfire wood and is generally accessible. The average burn rate of oak is 24 million BTUs per cord, making it one of the hottest woods.
On an autumn or winter night, that amount of heat is plenty to keep you warm, and if it isn’t windy, the heat will probably last for a while after the bonfire is extinguished.
Regarding oak, a student doing an experiment for a school project found that out of the examined woods, oak burned for the longest.
The majority of firewood retailers sell oak, which is also frequently found at campgrounds and in small bundles online. Any business that sells wood should also have oak logs available.
However, make sure it has been well seasoned, as unseasoned wood won’t produce much heat.
Hickory burns hotter than oak, with a cord producing 26.5 million BTUs. The best hickory is dense because it can hold less water. As a result, the fire burns for a very long time and produces a lot of heat.
Even after extinguishing the fire, you may anticipate being really warm in the winter with that kind of heat.
Additionally, meat dishes made from hickory have a delicate flavour that many campers enjoy.
Hickory can also be easily found in hardwood bundles. It can be found bundled with other hardwoods and is frequently offered as smoking wood pieces. Red oak and dense hickory are frequently sold as a pair.
Although ash is relatively light, it is also highly substantial. It doesn’t contain a lot of water, and burning it doesn’t make much smoke.
This wood burns for a long time and is one of the easiest to start a fire with. Although it’s hardly the most exciting term ever, it’s perfect for chilly evenings. 18.7–23.6 million BTUs per cord, depending on the type of ash wood you choose.
That much heat will keep you warm enough to get through a fall or early spring night. Due to its prolonged burn time, you could also need to use less wood every hour.
Ash has the advantage of being odourless, so if you don’t like the scent of burning wood, be sure to purchase some. It does not emit any smell.
One of the most common file woods to buy is ash, which is readily available in cords and bundles from most wood-selling establishments.
We are now moving on to the forests, which are more difficult to locate in bundles. Splitting maple is challenging because of its extreme toughness. It does, however, emit a lot of heat, making it ideal for long-lasting flames.
If you don’t like ash logs, maple is a fantastic alternative because it burns similarly to ash. You’ll likely have to gather maple for yourself, which is the one drawback.
The flavor of maple is one factor you might consider. It has a light perfume that has a faint maple syrup scent.
It’s also uncommon to locate a bundle of beechwood. It needs to be aged for a year before usage because it is so dense.
With 26.8 million BTUs per cord, it has a high heat output and is a desirable winter wood. Both the sap content and smoke production are minimal.
If you can locate and gather beechwood on your own, I advise doing so, but only if you feel up to the challenge of splitting beech logs.
A wonderful option to avoid paying for bundles is to gather your own beechwood, but be sure to season it for a year before using it. Some even suggest waiting three years for it to season before using it.
And last, if you like your fire to have a pleasant, lingering aroma, Cherrywood is a great choice. It’s not a good idea to start a Cherrywood fire in an area where bears congregate, but if you’re far enough away, feel free to do so.
Cherrywood is great for cooking since it gives your meal a delicious flavour. The taste is mild and not overly sweet.
It’s also great if you gather your own wood because it’s simple to split and doesn’t feel awkward in your hands.
If you’re camping in the spring or summer and you only need a campfire for cooking rather than for warmth, I suggest using cherry. At 20 million BTUs per cord, it doesn’t get quite as hot as some of the other woods on this list.
Woods By Burn Temperature List
Here is a list of woods with their cord-based BTU values if heat is your top priority. If the information shown above was insufficient to guide your decision, perhaps viewing a direct heat comparison will.
When Are Softwoods Sufficient For A Campfire?
Softwoods often don’t make good campfire fuel because of their high smoke production; but, if you enjoy a smoky campfire, you can learn why campfire smoke follows you and how to prevent it.
Even if you don’t like softwood, there are some situations in which they might be a wise decision for you. These are listed below.
It’s astonishing how well cedar burns. It burns gradually, and the flames won’t get very big. It’s a terrific wood to burn during the day in the fall since the fire can easily last you the entire day and it’s really hot. It also emits a lovely odor.
If It Depends on the Weather
Your wood may occasionally become too cold, as I have mentioned. It’s one of the causes I mention in my article on the seven reasons your campfire keeps going out.
Hardwood requires a lot of heat to start burning, and if your wood has been outside in the cold, the cold may prevent it from starting easily.
Softwood is more convenient for heating purposes; once you have enough heat to burn hardwood, you can switch to it.
If That Is All You Have Close By
I usually advise looking for hardwood while collecting your own firewood.
Unfortunately, there are situations when your hardwood logs will not be tiny enough to start your fire. If you can find or create tiny enough logs of softwood, I advise getting some in this situation. This can be used to start the fire, but as soon as you can, switch to hardwood.
Top Advice for Purchasing Firewood
Let’s look at strategies to make buying firewood cost-effective and worthwhile because most people tend to buy it unless you’re really up for a challenge.
I offer advice later in the text if you’d prefer to gather and burn wood.
Local purchases make life simpler and more economical. If you purchase from nearby merchants, you won’t needneed to pay exorbitant delivery costs. When you transport it yourself, you’ll also spend less on fuel.
You can get firewood locally by going to your campsite or the closest gas station that sells it. There are many gas stations close to campgrounds that sell bundles or sizable bags of logs that you can utilize.
Buying your firewood in the last town you pass before arriving at your campsite is a smart idea if you’re camping in a very remote location. You won’t have to carry it very far.
Purchase the driest wood you can find so it is burn-ready as soon as possible.
Make sure you purchase your wood from a reliable source and inquire about the moisture content of the wood. You may have to wait weeks or even months before you can burn wood that has a lot of moisture in it.
It is acceptable to purchase wood with a higher moisture content if you don’t require it right away. However, I always advise obtaining wood with the least amount of moisture possible in case you decide to go camping earlier than you had originally planned.
Do not measure purchases on weight
Because of the presence of moisture, weight might be deceiving. Purchase wood only in volume.
If you encounter someone selling wood based on weight, don’t buy it because wood is rarely sold using that measure. If the wood has a moisture level of, say, 60%, you can’t be sure you’re getting 10 pounds of actual wood.
Buy a lot
If you can, buy your firewood in bulk since you’ll save a lot of money. Make sure you have a place to put it, though! You’ll require some sort of storage shed because buying wood in bulk requires a lot of room.
It shouldn’t get wet once you get it, so make sure to store it somewhere cool and dry.
It is safe to assume that with so many strategies and tips you can find, it might be overwhelming to choose the best wood for your campfire. In this section we have outlined 10 tried-and-tested methods that you can use to get a reliable burn. Using these strategies will help prevent your campfire from going out just as you are about to enjoy a nice meal or hot cup of tea.
In case you want more information about which type of wood works best for each situation, there are plenty of guides online that provide detailed advice on how long different types of firewood take to burn depending on their size and other factors.