In South Africa, we do fires like it’s no bodies business! And I don’t mean the ones that sweep through the Cape once a year, I mean good old braai’s/ indoor fires/ bonfires/ fire pits/ you name it. There is an art to fire making and not all wood is made the same; but how to know which is which? Here we’ve put together a simple guide on the best firewood and where to get it, so that you never get caught in the cold in Winter and or without the braai master title in Summer.
This native tree gives an extremely popular, dry and hardy wood that burns long and gives off an intense heat. Great for both the fireplace and the braai, creating very little smoke but with the natural oils enhancing the flavours of the meat.
Not an indigenous tree but found in abundance nonetheless, this wood burns hot but also burns far quicker than most. Due to the resin, this wood is often a little wet. Great for pizza ovens as it generally produces less ash than other varietals.
Another alien tree, this wood is easy to light, burns extremely long and offers the perfect coal. When used for cooking, it gives a lovely, smoky flavour to the meat. Also great for indoors due to the long burning quality, it does however tend to “spit” and crackle so avoid using near flammable materials.
Popular in the Western Cape, mature Rooikrans offers dry, dead wood and flammable seed pods which are great for both braai and fireplace use.
Another native, this tree provides extremely dry, heavy wood which burns long, at a very high temperature, and creates almost no smoke.
Also indigenous to South Africa, this tree stands alongside the Sekelbos as the king of braai wood. The wood is dry and hardy, creating very hot, long burning coals in very little time. Mopani is however hard to light, making it a little more difficult to get the fire started off. A bonus is that it is termite resistant and as such is ideal for storing outside.
A very quick burning wood, it’s not ideal for a long-burning fire but is great for use as kindling to get the fire started. Pine cones are however great to use in the fireplace as they give off a wonderful, earthy scent when burned.
When choosing wood, rather opt for alien trees. These drink a lot of water and with the current drought in the Cape, it is a much wiser and eco-friendly option.