The Discerning Firewood Customer

Heating your home by burning logs is one of the most environmentally friendly options as it is carbon neutral. Using wood can save money on your fuel bills and sustains rural employment.

Having made the commitment to wood burning, you now need to make sure you make the right choices about choosing and storing your firewood. The answers to the following questions may help!

Which wood should I use?

The higher the moisture content in your logs the less heat they produce. The excess moisture produced when burning can also cause damage to your stove, burner, chimney or flue, which is why most UK stove manufacturers recommend using kiln-dried logs.

When trees are felled they generally have a moisture content of between 50-75%, depending on the species. Typically you will need to burn 3 logs with a moisture content of 50% to get the same heat output as burning 1 log with a moisture content of 20%.

Kiln-dried logs are dried to a moisture content of 15% and are ready for burning immediately. The acceptable moisture content for seasoned firewood is usually regarded as 35% or below and this level of moisture content could provide you with an acceptable heat output, with lower levels of smoke, ash and tar than freshly cut ‘green’ logs.

Beware when choosing naturally seasoned logs that they have been prepared properly. The bark is there to stop the moisture escaping so the tree trunk needs to be split into smaller logs to increase the surface area for drying and stored under cover with good air flow. The denser the wood the longer it will take to dry. It is normal to have to store seasoned wood a little longer yourself to avoid any problems with damp wood.

Is my firewood dry enough?

If you want to check how dry your wood is the best way is to use a moisture meter. For an enclosed stove or fire you are looking for a range between 15-25% for ideal burning.

You should also be able to see cracks on the end of the wood caused by drying out, and if you bang the logs together they will make a hollow sound. A dull thud tells you that too much water remains!

If when you burn your logs your stove glass goes black and you get soot and tar building up in the chimney then you know your firewood is not dry enough!

How much firewood do I need to buy and how should I store it?

You should never buy wood by weight as the wetter it is the more it weighs. For this reason we sell our logs by volume.

How much firewood you need is going to depend on many factors: how often you use your stove, the size of your property, how cold it is.

However, experience tells us that if you use the most efficient fuel (kiln dried logs) then average use is about 3-4 cubic metres of firewood a year. Because you can use kiln dried logs immediately you can order as you need it and don’t need to be able to store this much wood at a time.

It is worth putting some thought into the best place to store your logs. Although it might seem more convenient to have the logs most easily accessible for the stove this may be a long way from the delivery point, involving a long process of transfer when your logs first arrive.

You must store the logs neatly stacked under cover allowing maximum airflow from all sides and with the logs off the ground. Covering your logs with a plastic sheet is not ideal as it does not allow sufficient airflow across the top of the logs.

Is my firewood truly environmentally friendly?

Using firewood to heat your home ticks a lot of eco-boxes:

  • Unlike the burning of fossil fuels like coal, gas or oil, burning firewood releases no more greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) than would be produced were the wood to simply rot on the forest floor

  • Firewood from Britain is controlled by the Forestry Commission and guaranteed to be from sustainable woodlands and supports the local economy

  • Wood felling in other countries, such as Eastern Europe, is less well regulated and the logs have to travel great distances. A by-product of which is increased CO2 emissions

  • Better managed woodlands support the local economy providing jobs and an improved environment for flora and fauna

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