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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 25%. 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.

The SIA, Woodsure and the UK’s major log suppliers are currently working with DEFRA to create a new category of logs to be branded Ready to Burn. The Ready to Burn logo will give consumers confidence that they are buying quality assured logs, guaranteed to have a moisture content below 25% and ready for immediate burning.

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.

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