Hardwood vs Softwood Briquettes


Trying to find hardwood firewood? Let us explain how Hardwood and Softwood Briquettes compare.

You might be surprised to know that briquettes don’t need to be hardwood; softwood briquettes are safe for your stove and give an excellent burning experience. Yes, that might not be what your stove manufacturer or reatiler tells you but don’t panic – we can explain!

If you’re burning traditional logs, hardwoods are better. Why? Because they don’t spit and crackle, as they have much less sap. They burn longer, because hardwoods are denser than softwoods. They don’t release as much tar, so your stove flue or chimney stays cleaner.

But, when you’re burning briquettes, those rules go out the window. It doesn’t matter if the briquette is softwood or hardwood.

Why? Because briquettes are dry – no sap is left after they’re dried and compressed; they’re dense, so they burn longer; and they burn with fewer emissions, so your flue stays clear.

But why are hardwood briquettes so hard to find? Well, let’s explain!

This year, Wood Fuel Co-op have moved to UK suppliers for almost all of our stock. This is for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, we know many customers prefer homegrown, so it’s great to be able to offer UK products.

Secondly, external factors such as Brexit and the war in Ukraine have made sourcing briquettes from Europe very difficult. Russia is a huge supplier of timber products worldwide and because briquettes are a by-product of the timber industry, they have been seriously affected.

Removal of Russian timber from the market has had a profound effect on supplies across Europe. It’s also become increasingly difficult to ensure the timber is legally harvested, as much of the timber felled in Russia is done so illegally, causing irreparable damage to ancient forest ecosystems.

Although it’s great to be stocking UK products, there are some drawbacks.

Most obvious is price.

It’s still cheaper to import products than it is to buy homegrown ones. Astonishingly, it’s cheaper to bring a container of briquettes from Latvia than it is to buy a lorry load from Scotland.

Then there’s the type of wood. All of the briquettes from the UK, made from British timber, tend to be softwood. This isn’t actually a problem – softwood briquettes burn brilliantly and are just as hot as hardwood ones. The problem is customer perception, because most people know that softwood logs are not great for their stoves.

All of the briquettes from the UK tend to be softwood. This isn’t actually a problem – softwood briquettes burn brilliantly and are just as hot as hardwood ones.

Most stove suppliers will also tell you to only burn hardwoods. Hardwoods are denser, so they burn longer; they’re less sappy, so they don’t spit or crackle; they don’t tar up your stove and flue. Even kiln-dried softwood logs will spit and cause tarring, hence the easiest advice is to just burn hardwood logs.

But, while that was all true of traditional logs, it’s not true of briquettes.

Briquettes of all types go through immense heat and pressure treatment. The type of wood is not as important as particle size, temperature and compression. Small particles and high temperatures and compression levels will produce an excellent briquette, regardless of tree species.

Wood briquettes go through immense heat and pressure treatment. The type of wood is not as important as particle size, temperature and compression. Small particles and high temperatures and compression levels will produce an excellent briquette, regardless of tree species.

Hardwood and softwood briquettes are equally dense, and equally dry. That means you get a good burn time from both types and softwood briquettes will not tar your stove. This is because the pockets of sap that even kiln-drying doesn’t eliminate are removed during the grinding, drying and compression processes. Hardwood briquettes are often more difficult to break, but softwood briquettes have an equally high calorific value and are arguably more sustainable.

Why are softwoods more sustainable? Well, there are a few factors.

Softwoods are easier to source in the UK, so there are fewer travel miles involved. Plus, we’re supporting UK industry and by using a waste product we’re not felling trees just for firewood.

Then there’s the fact that we’re not felling ecologically rich hardwood woodlands. Some hardwood species, such as oak, support over 2,300 species, including birds, mammals, invertebrates, lichens and fungi.

Conversely, a softwood species like spruce grows fast and supports significantly fewer species. Cutting down spruce trees for firewood is therefore preferable to harvesting less sustainable hardwoods.

Of course, briquettes are a by-product of the timber industry, which means no one is felling trees to make briquettes. They’re being felled to make myriad other products and then waste sawdust is used to produce briquettes. Again, the prevalence of softwood timber in the UK means that there’s much more softwood sawdust available than hardwood.

If you’re not sure if softwood briquettes will work for you, start with our sample packs or express bundles, which let you try out smaller quantities.

Softwood logs harvested in Scotland - Wood Fuel Coop

Here are some of our softwood favourites:

Three softwood woodlets briquettes - Wood Fuel Coop
Loose softwood hotmax cobs with UK flag and Ready to Burn - Wood Fuel Coop

Three Woodlets Heat Logs Ready to Burn and UK Flag | Wood Fuel Coop

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Quick guide to choosing the best Wood Fuel for your stove and lifestyle.

Wood Fuel Co-operative

*Break - We strongly recommend you break these briquettes in half (or less for very small stoves) because they do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to overfill the fire.
*Easy to light - We always use a Firelighter and Kindling Sticks to start our fires. Most briquettes are graded four stars to light because they are quite dense and require kindling.


  • All stove and flue combinations tend to have different burning characteristics. Fuel that works well in my stove may not work so well in your stove, and vice-versa.
  • Most modern stoves are more efficient than most older stoves, meaning a modern quality stove will burn fuel more economically and generate more heat over a longer period.
  • Always try to burn fuel with a 'lick of flame'. Smouldering fuel to try to extend burn time is bad for your stove, flue and the environment due to unburned particulate matter in the smoke.
  • Be prepared to break briquettes into smaller sections to fit into your stove comfortably. Many briquettes do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to expand onto the glass.
  • The chart above indicates which briquettes are easy to break. Some are small enough so they don't need breaking. This makes for a cleaner environment around your stove.
  • All briquettes, except Everyday Value and Hotmax, benefit hugely from using kindling to light them. I suggest five kindling sticks will be sufficient, meaning a net should last 30 days.

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