Everything you need to know about logs and firewood

Everything you need to know about logs and firewood.  Can’t find the answer to your question? Drop us a line.

When do I need to burn firewood?

Firewood is usually burned in woodburning stoves or on open fires. Many wood burning stoves are what are called ‘multi-fuel’ which means you can burn both firewood and coal derived solid fuel. While your stove may be able to burn coal it is far more ecologically sustainable to burn firewood.

How do I get the best from burning firewood?

Firewood logs are currently the most common form of wood fuel. They will usually come from local sources e.g. garden centres, farmers, tree surgeons etc. It is important the logs are dry and well seasoned with a moisture content in the low 20s or below. Burning wet or unseasoned wood is less efficient and can cause harmful build up of deposits in the chimney over a short time. This is because when the logs heat up, the sap and resin within the logs will be boiled out first causing thick coatings of resinous materials which can cause chimney fires, or prevent the chimney functioning properly. This can also allow harmful fumes to escape into the home and indeed the environment.

Efficient burning is achieved by setting the appliance to fast air flow. This will ensure that all the gases are fully burned. Only set to slow burn when all wood has been reduced to charcoal and ash. Newly added wood set to burn slowly creates smoke and creosote in the chimney. The stove or open fire should not be banked up with logs for overnight burning.

If you burn wood, you should have your chimney swept at least twice a year. Do not burn any painted or treated wood.Treated or painted wood will emit chemicals which are potentially damaging to health and the environment. This also applies to MDF and chipboard.

How do I know if my wood is seasoned properly?

By far the easiest way to know is to use afirewood moisture meter – usually available for £20- £40. This is a small handheld device that will give you a percentage reading of the moisture in your wood. It is well worth investing in a moisture meter if you use your wood burning stove often and can save you from buying unseasoned wood! It can also save you money. If your wood delivery is acceptable but not perfect then you can negotiate for a discount based on your moisture reading.

The only other way to judge the moisture content is by handling the wood to get a feel for it by sight, feel and weight. A bit of residual moisture on the service may have come from rain during the delivery but this should not affect the logs beneath, so it’s worth digging around to check.

What should I do with unseasoned logs?

If you buy logs that have not been seasoned, you should store them under cover but open to allow free air circulation for at least a year. Bring the fuel into the house a few days before you want to use it to get it as dry as possible. Wood from different trees has different heat values. Wood fuel has typically less than half the calorific value of coal and smokeless fuel, so you must be prepared to use a greater volume of wood to heat your home or room, unless you use both wood and mineral solid fuel.

What quantities is firewood sold in?

It’s ultimately buyer beware when purchasing logs – some things to be aware of: Under the Weights and Measures Act, coal and smokeless fuel have to be sold in defined weights, which makes it easy for you to compare the cost between suppliers. Logs and firewood are usually sold in “nets” or by lorry load, so take care to check the amount you can expect to get for your money. Fresh felled wood weighs about one tonne per solid cubic metre but will lose up to half its weight when it becomes fully air-dried, so find out for how long the wood has been seasoned before delivery.

How eco is burning firewood?

Wood fuel is carbon neutral in other words trees absorb as much carbon dioxide in its growth as it releases when it is burnt or if allowed to decompose naturally on the ground. For this reason, the installation of wood fuel appliances, such as a wood burning stove are treated more favourably in Building Regulations.

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