Image of hickory firewood. Source: Canva

How To Choose The Right Hickory (Answered)

When it comes to choosing the right type of wood for your fire, hickory is a great option. Hickory is a hardwood that burns hot and slow, making it ideal for cooking or smoking meats. It also produces a lot of smoke, which can give your food a unique flavor. But how do you choose the right hickory firewood for your needs?

In this blog post, we’ll break down the benefits and different types of hickory firewood so that you can make the best choice for your needs.

How do you choose the right hickory firewood for your needs? First of all, make sure the wood is properly seasoned. Seasoned wood has been dried for at least six months and will light more easily than unseasoned wood. Another important factor to consider is the type of hickory you choose and what you need it for.

What is hickory?

Hickory is a hardwood, as the name implies. There are up to twelve hickory species that grow in the United States by themselves, though they are commonly grouped together and sold under one title. Hickory is a very versatile wood that can be used for smoking meats, grilling food, and even baking recipes. It’s also acknowledged as one of the best woods used for making charcoal.

In terms of firewood, hickory varies in quality. The best quality hickory is hard, dense, and free of knots. This type of wood will burn hot and slow, making it ideal for cooking or smoking meats. Lower-quality hickory is softer and contains more knots. This type of wood burns quickly and doesn’t produce as much heat, making it better suited for kindling or starting fires. 

Types of Hickory Firewood

Hickory firewood comes in two main types: green hickory and dry hickory. Green hickory is freshly cut and has a high moisture content. This type of hickory is not ideal for fires because it produces a lot of sparks and pops when it burns. Dry hickory, on the other hand, has been allowed to season properly and has a low moisture content. This makes it much easier to light and results in a cleaner burn. Dry hickory is the best type of wood to use for fires.

Shagbark hickory

Shagbark hickory is a favorite for smoking because it has a sweet, nutty flavor and produces a lot of smoke. It’s also one of the most popular types of hickory firewood due to its availability and affordability.

Pignut hickory

Pignut hickory is also commonly used for smoking, and it has a milder flavor than shagbark hickory. It burns hotter, so it’s better for grilling or roasting meats.

Bitternut hickory is another popular option that produces a sweet, nutty flavor and isn’t as smoky as some of the other varieties. It’s best used for grilling or roasting, but can also be used for smoking.

White hickory

White hickory is the most popular type of hickory firewood and is often used in outdoor fire pits. It’s low-smoke and burns hot and slow, making it great for cooking or smoking meats.

No matter what type of hickory firewood you choose, make sure it’s properly seasoned and fits your needs. Hickory firewood is a great choice for cooking or smoking meats, but each variety offers unique benefits so be sure to do some research before making your decision. With the right hickory wood, you can easily create delicious meals with unique flavors.

How To Choose the Right Hickory Firewood for Your Needs

When it comes to choosing hickory firewood, there are three main things you need to keep in mind: the tree’s age, the wood’s moisture content, and the wood’s density. 


The older the hickory tree, the harder the wood. That’s why hickory from young trees is better suited for smoking, while hickory from older trees is better for grilling and baking. 

Moisture Content

The moisture content of hickory wood can vary widely, depending on where it was harvested and how it was stored. In general, though, you want to choose hickory with a moisture content of 20% or less. Any higher and you run the risk of your food being overcooked or burnt.


Hickory is a dense wood, which means it burns hot and slow. That’s why it’s so popular for smoking meats and vegetables. If you’re looking for a quicker-burning wood, though, you may want to consider another option like mesquite or oak.

How long does Hickory need to season?

Though it’s one of the best woods to burn, Hickory has a prolonged seasoning process. Seasoning hickory wood takes at least 12 months. Green Hickory wood is difficult to ignite and smoky. It has a moisture level of 80%.

Is hickory the best firewood?

If you need firewood that burns quickly, Hickory is a superior option. This type of wood averages 28.5 million BTUs per cord and produces long-lasting coals–giving you more heat overall. Plus, it’s similar to other high-quality options like black locusts.

If you want more tips and insights about firewood, watch this video called “Hickory Firewood – How Does it Compare?” from the Burly Beaver Youtube Channel.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are the most commonly asked questions about hickory firewood.

Does hickory burn clean?

If you’re looking to add heat to your home safely and cleanly, hickory firewood is the way to go. This type of wood burns without giving off any harmful emissions, making it perfect for use in hearths and wood stoves. Plus, its high heat output means that you’ll be able to enjoy a cozy fire all night long.

How can you tell if firewood is hickory?

To test if your wood is hickory or oak, take a small sample and hold a lighter to it. If the wood is hickory, you’ll immediately smell a strong aroma that gets stronger the longer the smoke wafts through the air. Oak Smoke, however, is more subtle.

Can wood be over-seasoned?

Although it’s not a widely known problem, firewood with too much moisture still happens. Even properly seasoned wood has 15 to 20 percent water by weight.


Now that you know more about the different types of hickory firewood, you can make an informed decision about which type is right for you. If you’re looking for wood that burns hot and slow, go with dry, hard hickory. If you’re just looking for something to help get your fire started, go with lower-quality hickory or another type of wood altogether. Whatever you decide, we hope you have fun experimenting with different woods and finding the perfect one for your needs!

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