Is Red Oak Fire Wood Good? Qualities and Comparisons

Is Red Oak Fire Wood Good? The warmth of a good wood fire in your fireplace is unmatched.

Wouldn’t you love it if it lasted? It can be a tough call knowing the type of wood to stock up for cold seasons or bonfires.

However, red oak firewood is one of the best firewood choices for home or outdoor use. Should you stock red oak for firewood?

 We’ll tell you why it’s a great choice and how it compares to other hardwood firewood.

What Is Red Oak Firewood?

Red oak firewood is a fast-growing hardwood mostly found in the sandy areas of Eastern and Southern North America.

Red oak firewood is preferred for its availability, fast growth,  and high heat production.

Mature red oak can reach up to 75 feet, with 2ft a year growth in its first ten years. 

Burn Qualities of Red Oak Firewood

While you can use instinct to gather firewood, check these markers to collect the best red oak firewood.

High Heat Production

Red oak firewood has a relatively high BTU at 25.9 million per cord. You only need to toss a few pieces in the fireplace to keep a steady flame. 

Low Smoke Production

Dry red oak firewood has low sap content. Red oak firewood produces a clean burn with minimal smoke as dense hardwood. This quality makes it ideal for burning in closed spaces such as kitchens and fireplaces. 

Long Seasoning Time

Red oak takes up to 24 months to season, leaving it to dry naturally. However, you can shorten the time by splitting and stacking it as soon as possible. 

This easy-to-follow guide shows you the best way to stack firewood to season. Aim for final moisture content below 20% for maximum burning efficiency. 

Wood aired out to season

Wood aired out to season.

Mild Burning Smell

Unseasoned red oak has an unpleasant smell. However, seasoning the firewood drains out much of the tannins.

Seasoned red oak firewood will have a pleasant burning smell similar to vinegar. 

Minimal Creosote Buildup

See that black soot-like substance that forms in your chimney after a while? That’s creosote. 

Due to its intense heat, red oak firewood leaves minimal creosote buildup. You won’t have to worry about burning the firewood in the in-house fireplace.

You can get creosote buildup if your fireplace has unburnt wood or the firewood has a low burn intensity. 

Soot build-up in a chimney

Soot build-up in a chimney

Moderate Splitting

Although red oak firewood has a straight grain, it also has knots.

The knots make it harder than white oak to split. However, you won’t have to apply too much elbow grease if you use a splitting block.

Alternatively, get a commercial 7-ton log splitter for small-scale splitting. 

Axe splitting firewood

Axe splitting firewood

Hot Long-burning Coals

Red oak firewood retains hot coals long after the flames have died. You can rely on the coal’s heat if you add a large piece of red oak firewood as the last piece.

The hardwood’s ability to keep a short flame and long-burning coals make it excellent for grilling and overnight camping. 

Food cooking on hot coals

Food cooking on hot coals

Types of Red Oak Firewood

Although oak has over 30 species, red oak firewood has two major sub-categories. 

Here’s a summarised comparison table for identification characteristics. 

Southern Red OakNorthern Red Oak
Scientific name Quercus falcataQuercus rubra
Growth regionSouthern New York, Texas, FloridaEastern United States, southeast and south-central Canada
Size70-100ft long, 3-6ft wide92-118ft long, 6.5ft
Maturity/Growth rate50-70 years2ft/year
Janka Hardness10601290

Comparison to Other Woods

Red oak makes good firewood since it’s easy to split, burns hot, and provides long-burning coal. Here’s a summary of how it compares to other hardwood firewood using the same metrics. 

Heat Production (BTU/Cord)At 20% moisture contentEase of splitting after seasoningCoal production
Osage Orange32.9HardLong-lasting
White Oak29.1EasyLong-lasting
Black Locust28.3ModerateLong-lasting
Sugar maple26.8ModerateLong-lasting
Red oak25.9EasyLong-lasting


Q: Which Is Better, Firewood, Red Oak Or White Oak?

A: White oak is better for firewood than red oak because it has more heat intensity and produces less smoke. It also smells better and produces longer-lasting coals for indoor use. However, red oak is more available. White oak is preferable for furniture.

Q: How much does red oak firewood cost to buy?

A: Seasoned red oak firewood costs $300-$500 per 8ft x 4ft x 4ft cord. Prices can skyrocket during peak demand times such as winter. 


Getting good quality firewood improves your chances of staying warm during winter. Red oak is a sustainable source of firewood for domestic use in homes and outside.

This guide gives you insights into finding and preparing high-quality red oak firewood. It also adds other hardwood trees to your red oak pile.