How Hot Can A Wood Fire Get? (less than you think!)


If you ever light a wood-burning stove, an indoor fireplace, or an outdoor fire pit, then you’ve personally experienced a wood fire. Sometimes it feels like wood is burning at quite a high temperature. Exactly how hot can a wood fire get?

Wood fires usually burn at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. While it’s possible for them to burn even hotter than that, it’s unlikely, especially when using the average wood-burning stove or fireplace. 

In today’s article, we’ll examine what a wood fire is, how hot it can get, and how to burn wood safely. You won’t want to miss it! 

What Is a Wood Fire?

Simply put, a wood fire is a fire in which the primary source of kindling is wood. These can be sticks or blocks of wood and the wood can be wet or dry. 

Let’s examine the types of wood fires that most people are familiar with and perhaps even use in their day-to-day lives.

Wood-Burning Stove

A wood-burning stove, sometimes referred to as a wood stove, is a cooking appliance that can also be used for heating. 

You can insert sawdust bricks and other wood-derived biomass into the stove as well as wood fuel.

The stove will consist of a firebox that’s usually made of metal. A wood-burning stove must have a flue as well to feed the fumes outside of the home for safety’s sake.

Wood-burning stoves give a home a rustic appeal and charm. The stove can also be used for cooking a variety of foods, including bacon, pancakes, steak, fish, braised meat, and even cookies.  

Fireplace

Indoor or outdoor, a fireplace is sure to impress. 

Perceived as an opulent home addition, fireplaces do more than improve a property’s curb appeal. They also provide warmth and ambiance, especially in the wintertime.

You don’t use a fireplace to cook the same way you would a wood-burning stove. Mostly, it’s that cozy atmosphere, the smell of burning wood, and the warmth of being in the vicinity of the fire that makes a fireplace such a sought-after addition.

However, you should be careful because burning wood does produce carbon monoxide amongst other chemicals.

Firepit 

For those who don’t own a fireplace, a firepit is nearly as good.

Firepits are outdoors only. You can make a firepit yourself or you can purchase one at the store. Firepits are like a self-contained campfire. 

You can poke the wood, continue to add firewood to keep the fire burning, or put the fire out by dousing it with water.

Unlike a fireplace, if you wanted to roast hot dogs on a spit or make some backyard s’mores, both are viable options with a firepit. You wouldn’t really use a firepit for much other cooking the same way you would a wood-burning stove though. 

How Hot Is a Wood Fire? What Is the Maximum Temperature of a Wood Fire? 

How hot must wood be before it catches on fire? 

Not that hot, actually. In temperatures between 390 and 500 degrees, wood will ignite. 

Once it’s alight, wood also undergoes pyrolysis, a multi-stage process that helps the wood decompose the longer it burns.

So at temperatures of around 320 degrees, the wood will begin to shrink, crack, and develop visible char marks. By the time the temperature reaches 390 degrees, the wood has ignited.

The wood will begin to decompose faster as temperatures rise from 500 to 800 degrees. 

The wood isn’t done burning yet, though. As pyrolysis continues, the top temperature that wood can reach is around 2,000 degrees!

Of course, it does depend on the type of wood in question. For example, birch wood usually burns at around 1,500 degrees, which isn’t quite as hot. 

Here’s a list of various types of wood as well as their approximate top ignition temperature from the coolest to the hottest:

WoodTemperature (°F)
Victorian Ash592 °F (311 °C)
Radiata Pine660 °F (349 °C)
Douglas Fir662 °F (350 °C)
Western Red Cedar670 °F (355 °C)
Redwood687 °F (364 °C)
Spruce1,148 °F (620 °C)
Birch1,500 °F (815 °C)
Oak1,652 °F (900 °C)
Beech 1,742 °F (950 °C)

Can wood burn even hotter than 2,000 degrees? Yes, but it’s not something that happens often and usually requires highly specific conditions. 

Wood Fire Safety Tips

Even if your wood fire isn’t burning at 2,000 degrees, it’s still very hot and can cause severe burns and injuries if you get too close. That’s why we thought we’d wrap up with safety tips for wood fires.

Check the Flue Before Every Use

Lots of stuff can get stuck in the flue, from an accumulation of soot to leaves, bird’s nests, and sometimes even wild animals. 

Before you burn an indoor fireplace, you want to get into the habit of inspecting the flue.

Ideally, the best time to do this is during the day so you can see if anything is stuck up there. Then contact a chimney sweep to remove the debris rather than try to do so yourself.

Only Burn Untreated Wood

Treated wood that goes into a fireplace or firepit can release dangerous fumes and toxins that you don’t want yourself or your family breathing in. The same is also true of burning garbage or plastic.

You should only use wood for a fireplace or firepit. Dispose of your garbage properly and recycle plastic if you can.

Check That Your Smoke Alarms Are Working

When using a wood-burning stove or a fireplace indoors, you want to be triply sure that your smoke alarms are in working order.

You should make it a habit to check the alarms twice per year anyway. Open them up, look for any sensor obstructions, and consider replacing the batteries. 

This way, should the worst happen and fire occurs, you know your smoke alarm would indicate as much so you can quickly get out of the house! 

Use the Fireplace Screen

Your fireplace included a grated screen for a reason. The screen prevents embers from jumping out onto your floor or carpet, which could start a fire. 

You’ll also have a layer of protection between you and the fire, which is always nice. 

Put Out a Wood Fire Properly 

You must take the proper protocols when putting out a firepit. 

Stop adding more wood to the fire about an hour before you want to put the firepit out. Once the flames begin going down, cover them in water, then stir the embers and ashes. 

You can also use sand, dirt, or a snuffer to extinguish a firepit.  

Wood fires such as those from a fireplace, wood-burning stove, or firepit can burn at up to 2,000 degrees, which is mighty hot! We hope the precautions that we presented in this guide help you enjoy fire features safely.

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