Wood Logs

When buying logs take care to ensure they are ready to burn as moist fuels should be avoided.  Wet wood is not only inefficient (most of the heat produced is being used to drive the water off as steam), but also leads to tar deposits in your chimney that could become a fire hazard. We have often been called out to check a stove that is not burning well, simply to find that it is because the wood being burnt is too wet!

Seasoning reduces the moisture content of the wood. Trees felled during the Spring/Summer will have a very high moisture content (60%+) compared to those felled in late Autumn/Winter. A log cut in January may be ready to burn within a year, whereas a log cut in May will need to be seasoned for two years.

Whilst seasoning it should preferably be stored under cover in an airy place such as an open-sided lean-to. Wood should be burned when the moisture content is below 25%. You can tell if a log is dry because the bark will come away easily and the log will have splits across the grain.

Hardwoods burn for much longer than softwoods and produce significantly more heat.
Choose a length of log that will easily fit into your stove. Thinner logs will burn quicker and with more immediate heat, whereas a large diameter log will burn for much longer at a lower temperature.


Compressed Sawdust logs and briquettes

These are a good alternative to 'real logs'.  They are a 100% renewable biomass fuel, are carbon neutral to the atmosphere and do not contribute to global warming whatsoever. They are clean to handle, quick to light and give off plenty of heat with a golden flame and then glow with lots of heat.


Solid Fuels

The manufacturers have usually designed the stove with certain types of fuel in mind. It is possible to damage a stove and flue by burning the incorrect fuels, so it is important to find out which fuels the manufacturer recommends.

Another guide is to look at the 'HETAS GUIDE' see: http://guide.hetas.co.uk/guide.html


Smoke Controlled Areas

Many built-up areas are designated as Smoke Control Areas. It is possible to fit stoves in these areas but they should be DEFRA approved stoves. DEFRA is the UK Government Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which regulates smoke emissions under the Clean Air Act 1993.

On a 'light' note, a mneumonic to aid your choice in fuel!

BEECHWOOD fires are bright and clear,
If the logs are kept a year,
Store your BEECH for Christmastide
With new-cut HOLLY laid beside.
CHESTNUT only good they say,
If for long 'tis laid away.

BIRCH and FIR WOOD burn too fast,
Blaze too bright and do not last,
Flames from LARCH will shoot up high,
Dangerously the sparks will fly;
It is by the Irish said,
HAWTHORN bakes the sweetest bread,
ELM wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold.

POPLAR gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
APPLE wood will scent your room,
With an incense like perfume,
OAK and MAPLE if dry and old,
Keep away the winter cold,
But ASH wood wet or ASH wood dry,
A King shall warm his slippers by.


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