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The importance of using dry wood


Modern clean burning stoves are designed to burn dry wood.


Burning wet wood will lead to an increase in smoke and emissions and produce little heat. It will also lead to a blackening of the stove glass and a build-up of soot in the chimney.

Freshly cut wood can have a water content between 60% and 80% and if used in a stove will amount to burning water. Freshly felled timber should be cut and split into small logs and left to dry in a covered but airy store, before being used. This can take between 12 and 36 months depending on the storage conditions and most importantly species. For example, ash may only need 12 months but oak at least 36 months. This is known as seasoning.

Most people buying a stove for the first time do not have the space to dry wood for up to three years. They want to buy wood that is ready to burn, dried to have a moisture content below 20%. The moisture content of logs sold in nets, sold as ‘seasoned logs’ can vary considerably and is often between 30% and 50%. Kiln dried logs can provide a more consistent quality, with a moisture content that is generally less than 20%.

Using dry wood also means that fewer logs are needed to produce the same level of heat. This saves money and reduces emissions because less wood is being burnt.

Heat Output from log at different
Moisture Contents(kWh)

The Efficiency of the appliance also plays an important role in the amount of wood required, as shown in the diagram below. Significantly fewer logs are required in an Ecodesign Ready stove. Saving money and reducing emissions.

Number of logs required to produce
4kWh of heat over a 5 hour period.

Woodsure has worked closely with DEFRA to launch a new initiative called Ready to Burn. One of the key features of the initiative is that the logs will have verified moisture content below 20%.

The Ready to Burn initiative was officially launched on 12th September, at the Westonbrit Arboretum. The presentations included a video message from Thérèse Coffey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

In her address, Dr. Coffee said “Many of us enjoy a fire at home, but what you burn and how you burn it has a real impact on air quality. The Ready to Burn logo will allow people to easily identify clean, quality wood fuel, allowing them to make informed choices that will not only benefit their appliances, but also wider air quality.”

Modern clean burning stoves, like Ecodesign Ready, are designed to burn dry wood. The Woodsure Ready to Burn initiative will make it easier for consumers to purchase suitably dry fuel. For further details visit www.woodsure.co.uk.

Hardwood is better than softwood, because it burns slower. Both types have similar calorific values but the density of softwood is approximately half that of hardwood, which results in it burning twice as fast. So basically you will need two softwood logs for one hardwood log. Hardwoods are any broad leafed deciduous tree and softwood is conifers.

Never buy wood by weight, as this can mean that you are paying for water. Always buy logs by volume.

Wood briquettes are also available. Briquettes have a moisture content which is often less than 10%. They offer easy, convenient combustion and produce minimum levels of ash.