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Could 75% birch, 25% oak be about the best firewood mix for your wood stove?

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Someone suggest differently, but we are having tremendous success with this mix.

  1. Get the fire rocking with well aged birch.
  2. Toss in a “yule log” of red oak.
  3. Fire hungry for more wood?  Pull the coals forward and alternate between birch and red oak.

Like the perfect cocktail, blending a wood fired sauna stove with mostly birch and a smattering of red oak promotes a super hot fire in the stove, and gives us a super hot long burn time.

75% birch, 25% oak.  We have died and gone to sauna heaven.

fire good.
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8 thoughts on “Could 75% birch, 25% oak be about the best firewood mix for your wood stove?”

  1. We don’t have birch readily available, however, many different species of oak and hard maple among many other hardwoods, while experimenting with a new sauna, hard maple with take to 240 plus without a problem, a little warm for a relaxing sauna, adding seasoned red oak, which happened to be on the wood pile keeps it plenty warm and beyond, may have to mix with poplar and basswood seasoned to figure the proper combination?

  2. Birch is brilliant. But then so much depends on how dry the wood is. Weather birch or oak. Or in deed ash. Moisture, age, fire nest draft, hight of chminey flue are all factors. Serious sauna science.

    So I say go with what gives you your heaven.

    I’m happy with clean wood smell and good loyly.

  3. We recently commissioned our new sauna and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the right wood combination.
    I’ve been burning oak, madrone, and douglas fir. After about a month of running the sauna I’ve been thinking 75% Douglas Fir, 25% Oak or Madrone is about right. Interestingly Douglas Fir and Birch have about the same level of BTU per cord. I started with 100% oak and it didn’t want to get blazing hot, so took longer to heat up. Starting with fir and then using oak to hold temps allows me to drive temps up quickly, then settle out at a comfortable level.
    Still learning the best quantity/time, but thinking about this each time I build a fire.

  4. Morning Glen,

    I am waiting for the delivery on my first mobile sauna from Eric at Voyageur and starting my mobile sauna rental company in Maine. I am wondering if you suggest buying kiln dried wood for efficiency and better quality of heat/fire? I am not sure if the extra cost is necessary (i would like to be mindful of burning my wood sustainably).


  5. Hi Richard:

    This article above is a good place for thinking. I have used the stove you’ll be using for over 30 years (Kuuma)… and not just once and awhile but 3x a week for over 30 years.

    What is impressive with this stove is the ability to “tune” the air damper such that with the “dancing blue flame,” you’ll be burning much less wood and achieving much more heat out of the Kuuma.

    Given that you’re in Maine, you’ll be having access to an awesome assortment of wood. The firebox takes a 16″ log. So, you’ll become a wood burning expert in no time, and I encourage you to test your own mix of species and diameters. I have had great results firing up my Kuumas with the upside down fire technique. I like the blend detailed above. You have access to the revered birch in Maine, and encourage this species to be part of your arsenal. And bonus is the birch bark (nature’s gasoline) which has been a key free range organic ignitor for my Kuumas for 30 years.

    Anyhow, you got me all fired up (cough) with your question. And until now, I kind of side stepped it.

    No need for kiln dried. Well seasoned is what i’ve always used and it’s been awesome. And I think it’s in my Sauna Talk with Daryl, but the counterintuitivity (not a word) of wood burning is that too dry of wood means the loss of gasses in the wood, and actually less productive the wood is for burning (fewer BTU’s).

    Regarding being mindful of burning wood sustainably, i’m right there with you. Wood is a renewable resource. And when we add a log to our Kuumas, I feel better that the maximum amount of BTU’s are being drawn from that log to heat our saunas. And I have it down now so that from the first match, to the moment I close the hot room door after a 2-3 hr. sauna session, if someone where to be sitting outside staring at the chimney stack, they wouldn’t know there was a sauna happening as there is 0, yes zero, smoke coming out from the chimney.


    That’s the power of the Kuuma stove.

    It takes some time and tuning to achieve this, but I have, and others have, and you will too.

    Wishing you good sauna Richard, and happy to chat more about your gig in Maine. Have you seen the Saunatimes Public Sauna Map?

  6. Great discussion on wood choices to get the right burn and temp.

    Here in New Zealand we have a lot of Macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress) for firewood it seems. It burns quite nicely, ignites pretty easily, but I find it does get a soot buildup. So I have Black Wattle (Acacia) and Kanuka (Tea Tree) which I mix in to get the front glass burnt off and clean the chimney. Eucalyptus along with Douglas Fir are also fairly common. I have some more Douglas Fir and Tea Tree in the queue and will try that combo similar to your Fir and Oak as I think that should prove quite good. Alas, not much birch available and my saplings are for making vihta/vasta as soon as they grow large enough.

  7. Hello all,

    Really interesting conversation here. My sauna has a round firebox and I have adopted the upside down fire technique that I read about here. It works great! I have had really good success burning a combination of ash to bring the temp up quickly (I can hit 130-140F in 20 minutes) , followed by adding well seasoned hickory with a half damper on the air intake. This setup usually puts me at 180F in about 50 minutes.

    The other thing that I use in making the upside down fire is hardwood trim scraps from a cabinet maker. That trim with a little bit of paper or birch bark is fantastic at getting the fire going.

    I just bought a face cord of birch that I am excited to try, as I expect it to be similar to the ash.

    Glen- thanks for the great content and forum to share ideas!

    -Chad in WI

  8. Chad,

    You’re welcome! You are applying zen and the art of sauna fire maintenance, and applaud your consciousness. I am blending birch and ash with great success. And glad to hear that your upside down fire technique is successful and well tuned. This is example of how wood fired is just as convenient as electric, and much more tactile/fun (my opinion!).

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