Stove installers and retailers have an important role to play in educating consumers in how to choose and burn wood. International research has shown that users have a significant impact on the emissions produced by burning wood. Modern clean burning stoves can reduce emissions by over 80% compared to a stove of ten years ago but real life research in New Zealand has shown that the user can significantly influence the amount of smoke generated.
The starting point is the water content of the wood. Freshly cut wood can have a water content as high as 90%. Quite unbelievable and if used in a stove will amount to burning water, producing steam and smoke and little heat. Freshly cut wood should be burnt be left to dry or season for one or two years. Alternatively, seasoned wood can be bought from a wood supplier. Kiln dried is the best with a moisture content of less than 20%. The moisture content of seasoned logs can vary with average moisture contents between 30% and 50%. Users should be encouraged to purchase a moisture meter. This will help users gauge when wood is ready to be burnt.
Lighting a stove is the most crucial phase. Overloading the stove with logs or using wet wood can generate excessive smoke. Lighting the fire is simple so long as a few basic rules are followed. Start by fully opening the Primary and Air Wash controls on the stove. Build the fire slowly. Start with dry kindling and add dry logs as the fire catches. Leave the door open until the fire is established. Then close the door and the Primary Air Control and use the Air Wash to regulate the fire.
Following these simple rules will have a significant impact on the emissions produced. Most stove manufacturers have clear guidelines and videos showing how to burn wood in their stoves.