If you live in Colorado, nothing beats cozying up to your fireplace after a long day on the slopes, or sledding with your family. If you live in Colorado, nothing beats cozying up to your fireplace after a long day on the slopes, or sledding with your family.
Boulder County averages 95 inches of snow each year — that’s 70” more than the national average! But a wood-burning fireplace can turn those cold nights into a cozy evening to look forward to.
Plus, wood-burning fireplaces come with many different benefits for you as a homeowner:
- More efficient: Heat up your living room without cranking the heater throughout the whole house.
- Money-saver: Wood is cheaper to burn than gas.
- Cozy: Burning wood provides comforting sounds and soothing aromas.
- Environmentally-friendly: Wood is a renewable resource.
Although you’re already saving money with a wood-burning fireplace, every dollar counts. That’s why it’s important to know which types of wood burn the hottest, so you can save money and wood over the course of the winter.
And not just any hot-burning wood will do. Certain wood types can be hard to find in Boulder, or extra pricey if it needs to be shipped from across the country.
Fortunately, Colorado naturally offers some great hot-burning woods, making them accessible and affordable for you to burn this winter.
How to Tell Which Types of Wood Burn the Hottest
How can you tell which types of wood are the most efficient when it comes to heat output? The easiest way to analyze how hot a certain type of wood burns is by looking at its heat value.
For example, one cord of aspen wood will provide the same amount of heat as if you burned 100-150 gallons of heating oil.
Aspen wood’s heat value is 100-150, making it a low temperature wood. Whereas Rocky Mountain Juniper has a much higher heat value of 200-250.
Best Colorado Woods to Burn for Heat
Here are the types of Colorado woods that will burn hottest in your fireplace, so your family can stay cozy and warm all winter long (and save money).
High Heat Firewood
Heat Value: 200-250
Apple: Apple wood burns slow, which means you can use less wood. As a bonus, this wood smells great when you burn it. It can even add a nice aroma to food if you use it for your next camp fire meal.
Piñon: Pinon is full of oils that smell amazing when this wood is burnt, which is why you’ll find piñon incense all over the southwest United States. It also works as a natural and aromatic insect repellant once the spring and summer hits.
Rocky Mountain Juniper: Found throughout Colorado, this type of juniper burns hot. It’s also got a bark that makes for good kindling.
Medium Heat Firewood
Heat Value: 150-200
American Elm: The smell of this wood isn’t popular with some people — it just has a certain strong aroma. On the plus side, it grows abundantly in much of the US, which means it’s cheap and easy to find.
This can be a tough wood to split, so you may want to buy it already cut for your fireplace.
Douglas Fir: Douglas Fir is a popular softwood for the fireplace, and one of Colorado’s major tree species. It splits easy and if seasoned properly (for at least a year), should light easily.
Silver Maple: Silver Maple burns hot and even, although it’s a relatively heavy wood that can be hard to light. This wood can act as a good core log in your fireplace, with lighter kindling stacked around it.
Low Heat Firewood
Heat Value: 100-150
You might not always want the hottest burning wood. If you don’t want your living room to turn into an oven, or if the winter hasn’t hit peak cold temperatures, a lower-heat wood might be the perfect choice.
Aspen: Aspen is another easy wood to find in Colorado. It burns at low heat, which makes it good for keeping things warm during a sunnier winter day.
Cottonwood: Cottonwood can smoke and possibly stink if not well-seasoned. However, it’s abundance throughout Colorado and lower heat make it an accessible choice for a mild fire.
Spruce: The sap in Spruce wood can get a bit sticky, but the fresh scent might just be worth it. Plus, this wood dries fast and splits easily.
Where to Get Firewood in Boulder County
Costs of different woods will vary depending on location and availability. Some places in the Boulder area where you can buy firewood include:
You can also harvest firewood from certain public lands. Specific rules on how much you can forage for and from where can vary, and you may need a permit.
Contact the Colorado Bureau of Land Management for more information.
Before you light your first fire this winter, make sure your chimney is ready for the season. Creosote build-up can become a fire and smoke hazard if your chimney isn’t cleaned regularly.