Whether burning wood on an open-fire or stove, wood is a renewable heat energy and if burned efficiently produces virtually no smoke. According to HETAS, compared to fossil fuels sustainably managed wood woods net CO2 production.
When choosing traditional logs for your fire consider the moisture content, wood density and contamination.
Dry wood burns better than wet wood. Wet wood smoulders and creates tar and smoke which can be corrosive potentially damaging the lining fo the flue. Damaged flue liner is more prone to chimney fires. Wet logs also tend to blacken the glass in stoves. Buy dry wood or season wet wood by airing it for one or two summers, keeping the rain off in the winter.
When purchasing wood, the seller should advise if it is hardwood, softwood or mixed and if it meets the European standard EN ISO 17225-5 for firewood. Hardwood tends to be denser. Denser wood tends to burn for a longer period of time.
Contaminated wood is treated with paint or preservatives. It should never be burned as it can produce harmful gas and corrode flue linings.
Briquettes are normally made from sawdust. When purchasing ensure they conform to European standard 17225-3. Briquettes are dense, clean, easy to handle and come in convenient ‘ready to burn’ packs. However, when burning in a stove the setting may need to be adjusted.
When purchasing wood chips ensure they conform to European standard EN ISO 17225-4 which has guidance on particle size and moisture content. The typical wood chip from a tree surgeon is too wet and variable in size for most appliances.
Typically made from the same materials as briquettes, wood pallets are smaller and primarily used for biomass boilers. Pellet stoves are becoming more popular in the domestic market. When purchasing ensure it meets European standard EN ISO 17225-2.
Before purchasing wood for your appliance be sure to check the manufacturer’s guide. For more information on using the right wood check out the HETAS leaflet Using Wood Fuels For a Sustainable Future.