12 Best Smelling Firewoods (Campfires or Fireplaces)

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We wanted to find out what the very best smelling firewoods are because we are so tired of building fires with the smoky wood we buy at the campground. So we decided to do some research and learn which firewoods smell the best, burn the longest and burn the hottest.

Sure you can buy the smokey camp wood for sale at the camp store. Or you can make a fire with one of the 12 Best Smelling Firewoods for your Campfire or Fireplace which are:

  1. Cherry
  2. Birch
  3. Apple
  4. Pine
  5. Cedar
  6. Hickory
  7. Oak
  8. Mesquite
  9. Alder
  10. Pear
  11. Walnut
  12. Pecan

We also include a firewood heat chart in our article so you can see which woods burn the hottest! And we included a video at the end of the article so you can learn how to identify each of these great smelling firewoods.

In addition, we review what causes firewood to smell, what is seasoned firewood, and how the quality of the firewood affects the smell. So read on to learn all about the best smelling firewoods for a campfire, fireplace, fire pit, or even a wood stove.

What Causes Firewood to Smell?

Every type of wood has a scent, and whether it is good or bad it comes from the type of wood. Bad smells usually come from the wood rotting from the inside out as a result of bugs like termites eating the wood. Wood and firewood specifically smells best when it is fresh and yet seasoned properly. Then when you burn it, it will have the best scent possible.

How Do You Make a Wood Fire Smell Good?

The key to having a pleasant aroma emit from your campfire or fireplace is all about wood selection. You can’t burn any old wood and expect to get a warm, earthy, or pleasant smoke smell!

If you want a great aroma from your wood fire, choose any of the best smelling firewoods on this list.

What Does Seasoned Firewood Mean?

Seasoning firewood means allowing the moisture to evaporate from wood, producing firewood that burns clean and efficiently. Seasoning only requires time, typically from six months to one year, hence the term season. You let it dry for a few seasons before burning it. But you can speed the process up by splitting the wood then keeping it under cover to keep the rain and snow off of it.

The Quality of the Firewood Affects the Smell

When discussing the scent of different types of wood, it is important to know that the quality of the wood is more important than the type. Any wood that is not in good condition will have a more faded smell than it would if it were fresh. And, the wood will actually smell bad. However, if the wood is in good condition it will smell great when you burn it.

When you try to burn green or unseasoned firewood that has a higher moisture content, the fire will be smoky, and it will not smell good at all.

What is the Best Firewood for Heat?

Some firewoods burn hotter than others. This is measured in BTUs. Rather than get all technical about it, all you need to know is the higher the number on the chart below the hotter the wood burns. Check it out!

What’s the Best Way to Burn the Best Smelling Firewoods?

Let’s face it…many of the best smelling firewood aren’t cheap so burning as little firewood as possible while getting the most amount of heat and the least amount of smoke is important. A solo stove is a great way to burn firewood efficiently.

Plus they are easy to use and they are portable. Take our word for it and buy the larger Yukon solo stove. The smaller ones are just too small…

What's the Best Way to Burn the Best Smelling Firewoods?

The 12 Best Smelling Firewoods for You to Burn

When you are looking for firewoods there will be several options available to you. You can get whatever firewood is available outside your campsite, but if you want something that smells good, you should have an idea of what type of wood you want. Here are 12 of the best smelling firewoods for you to burn.

1. Burn Cherry Firewood For A Unique and Lasting Scent

Cherry Firewood best smelling firewood

One of the best firewoods for you to try out is cherry firewood. Cherry offers a unique aroma that is sweet and lasting. Not only do people love the smell of cherry when they are at the campsite, but this is excellent firewood to bring into your home. If you have a fireplace at home, you can set yourself up with an awesome smelling room.

Many people also like to use cherry wood in their grill or smoker to cook food. It infuses a wonderful sweet taste into meat and poultry.

Cherry trees are generally much smaller than their larger brethren. They will usually grow to be 20 to 40 feet tall. Additionally, if you are cutting your firewood yourself, cherry is one of the easiest and cleanest to split. Once it is divided in two you will already begin to smell its pleasant fragrance.

Cherry is a popular type of lumber, and as a result, it can be a bit more expensive than many other types of firewood. It can also be used as wood for smoking various foods. Finally, make sure that you store your cherry wood in as dry a place as possible because it can rot and grow fungus easier than other firewoods.  

2. Burning Birch Firewood Smells Subtle and Sweet

Birch firewood

Birch trees are medium sized trees that primarily grow in the northern hemisphere and in colder climates. These trees can come in various colors such as gray, white, black silver, and yellow. You can usually find birch wood for sale at your local hardware store.

The smell of birch firewood is a subtle, sweet smell that fits excellently into a room or campsite. If you want a scent that will help you relax and one that will not dominate the campground, birch is a great option. Some people consider it to be nature’s incense because it gives off such a satisfying aroma.

Furthermore, birch is a soft wood, but do not let that scare you from burning it at your home. It burns quicker than most other firewoods, but it is excellent for kindling to get the fire started.

3. Burning Apple Firewood Produces an Alluring Aroma

Apple firewood best smelling firewood

The apple is one of the most popular fruits in the world and for great reason. There is not a whole lot better than the crunch of an apple when you take a bit out of it. Apple firewood is a lot like the fruit in popularity.

The tree was originally cultivated in Central Asia where its popularity quickly spread worldwide. Now apple trees are grown all over the world. So, no matter where you are you can find fresh apples and apple firewood. In the United States, you can usually find it at department and hardware stores.

However, if you have an orchard nearby I would suggest visiting them after a very windy storm. There will be some apple trees that get destroyed and if you are willing to cut them up and take them away you might get yourself some free apple firewood!

Apple wood is also great for cooking, and it produces an alluring aroma that is similar to the apple. People love burning apple firewood at campsites to set everyone at ease. Apple wood burns longer and more steadily than soft woods.

4. Burning Pine Firewood Gives Off a Cozy Festive Smell

pine firewood has an amazing aroma

Pine firewood is one of the most popular types of firewood, even though it comes with some controversy when burning it inside. There is a risk when burning it inside because of the build up of creosote. Therefore, you should not burn pine in your fireplace or wood stove. However, since you will be burning it outside at your campsite that will not be an issue.

Pine gives off a happy festive smell that is great for an outdoor fire. As a result, it has become a staple of the holiday season. So, if you are traveling during the winter, you should skip the other firewoods and pick up some pine.

This wood is another soft wood that burns well for a short time. If you want a longer lasting fire you can combine it with hard wood.

5. Cedar Firewood

cedar firewood is popular and smells great

Cedar is one of the most common types of wood in the United States, and as a result, it is one of the most popular firewoods. It has some diverse family members ranging from red cedar to atlas cedar. Regardless of the type, all cedars are tall, beautiful, and have a classic sweet smell to them. If you ask the average person what their favorite type of wood is, they will probably say cedar.

Cedar works best as kindling because it burns intensely for a short period of time. However, you cannot expect it to burn for a long time. Therefore, you will need to add some hard wood to the fire. It is great firewood because it is lightweight and contains oils that assist a fire in starting. Finally, it has the natural ability to ward off insects and other vermin that might get into your campfire.

6. Burning Hickory Firewood Produces Classic Hickory Scent

Hickory Firewood Burns Hot and great for campfire woodstove or fireplace

If any type of firewood can be described as smoky, it is hickory. It has a scent that you will instantly recognize. In fact, liquid smoke flavoring that is used in cooking is made from condensed hickory wood smoke.

Additionally, hickory is one of the best fuel woods whether you are inside or outside because of its density and heat output. According to the University of Illinois, a cord of hickory will produce 28.6 million BTUs of heat. For those of you that are not familiar with those numbers, 20 is considered a low output, while 25 is considered quite high.

7. Burn Oak Firewood For a Mild Scent Reminiscent of Summer Nights

oak firewood is the best burning wood smells great

Oak is another one of the most classic firewoods you can find. It is incredibly common for campfires, fireplaces, wood stoves, smoking meat, and even building furniture. However, that is not what we are talking about, so let us focus on it as firewood.

When oak firewood burns it gives off a mild smell that will remind you of a warm summer night. That is an excellent smell considering you will probably be burning it on a warm summer night. It is a milder version of the earthy smoke smell you get from burning hickory.

Oak produces 24.4 million BTUs per cord of wood. Since it has a strong heat output and a mild smell, it is an excellent choice for your firewood if you want to cook or smoke meat over it.

8. Mesquite Firewood Smoke Smells Strong and Tangy

Mesquite firewood best smelling firewood

Mesquite has one of the most unique scents of all the firewoods you will find. Its aroma is somewhat strong, and a little tangy. In fact, there are barbeque chips that are named after Mesquite wood because of their tangy smell.

Not only is mesquite wood used for campfires it is most popular to grill or smoke meat. The flavor and smell it gives off is very unique and tasty!

9. Alder Firewood Smells Light and Sweet While Burning

Alder wood firewood has a light sweet oaky smell

Alder firewood produces a scent that is similar to oak. However, its scent is comparatively lighter and sweeter smelling. It is classified as a hard wood, but it is softer than most other hard woods and will burn quicker. So, you can think of Alder firewood as somewhere right in the middle in terms of soft and hard wood.

Alder firewood is great for creating aromatic campfires that you want to burn out relatively quickly. It can also be used for cooking for smoking fish or poultry. But not so much for the heartier red meats.

10. Pear Firewood Smells Light, Sweet, And Pear-Like

Pear firewood is one of the best smelling firewoods

If you know what a pear smells like, you will have a pretty good idea of what pear firewood smells like. It is a lot like apple wood as it is mildly sweet and light. However, the main difference between the two is the fruity scent. Apple wood smells mildly like apples, and pear wood smells like pears.

Apple firewood is typically a little more popular than pear wood. However, that does not mean that pear is not just as great. It all comes down to personal preference, and pear firewood is an excellent option for your campfire whether you are hanging out or cooking with it. The only problem with pear firewood is that it can be more difficult to find than other options.

11. Walnut Firewood Smells Deep and Earthy

Walnut firewood

Walnut firewood is an all around wonderful type of wood. Walnuts are delicious, and its board wood is among the most prized commodities among woodworkers. On top of that, it is an excellent type of wood to burn at your campfire. It has an excellent heat output of 22.2 BTUs per cord, and it will produce a pleasant smoky aroma.

Like hickory firewood that we discussed earlier, walnut firewood produces a deeper earthy smell that is not found in most other firewoods. However, the scent of walnut also has a distinct, but subtle sweetness to it. When you think about the taste of a walnut you probably think of it as mild and earthly, but with a little tang to it. That is the exact feeling that will be expressed when you smell walnut firewood burning for the first time.

I had a huge Walnut tree blow down in the woods behind my house and we had cords and cords of the best burning wood I have ever for a campfire and in my woodstove. Luckily it was free! Except for all the work it took to split and stack it.

12. Pecan Firewood Produces Intense and Sweet Smelling Smoke

Pecan firewood

Ok with pecan firewood we are cheating a little bit because it is technically a type of hickory tree. If you want to get technical the pecan tree is part of the genus Cary, which is the Hickory genus. However, it is distinct enough that we thought it was worth mentioning as the last of the best firewoods.

Despite being in the hickory family, it has a completely different scent compared to hickory wood. It has a more intense, sweet flavor when compared to hickory wood. This is most noticeable when you are cooking with it. However, you will also notice it when you are sitting around the campfire at your campsite.

How to Identify Some Common Species of the Best Smelling Firewoods

Check out this video below to learn how to identify different types of firewood. It is very interesting. If you just learn to identify oak, at least you won’t get taken advantage of when you go to buy firewood in the future.

Enjoy Your Fire with the Best Smelling Firewoods

After reading, we hope you have all the information you need to prepare for your next camping trip. We know you have a lot to do to prepare for your trip, and the type of firewood you are going to be using is probably not high on your list of priorities.

However, learning about different firewoods can improve your overall camping experience. There are more than the 12 firewoods that we listed above. There are dozens of other options out there. Some smell great, and others will lead you to put out the fire because of how bad they smell.

So, if you want to avoid that you should at least have a shortlist of a few great smelling firewoods. Fortunately, you have that list now with the 12 best smelling firewoods we provided for you above!

Which of the 12 types of firewood listed above do you think smells best? Is there a type of firewood that we missed that you think smells great, and if so, what is it? What is your favorite type of firewood, and do you use different types of firewood for different occasions? Let us know in the comments!


For more awesome articles about campfires and firewood check out these articles!
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11 Best Camping Flashlights – Rated and Reviewed

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