Many of us, particularly those living in rural areas of the county, rely on our fires and stoves to bring warmth and atmosphere to our homes on cold winter days. But if we want to help protect the environment we have to take responsibility for the fuels we burn and how we burn it.
Without doubt, using a wood-burning stove compared to an open fire will make a huge difference. The majority of modern wood-burners, incorporate efficient, clean-burn technology which, if used with properly seasoned logs, reduces particulate pollution significantly – up to 80% for example, compared to a stove manufactured 10 years ago. Furthermore the stove industry has developed “Ecodesign Ready” specifications for wood burning stoves ahead of planned legislation due for implementation in 2022.
One of the key issues however, which is essential to consider if you want your wood burning stove to operate at it’s best and improve on emissions, is the quality of the fuel you burn. Wood should be either fully seasoned or kiln-dried. We suggest buying your seasoned logs from a trusted supplier or season them yourself by storing your wood in a dry place for twelve to eighteen months. Well seasoned logs will have wide cracks in them and if you knock a couple together they’ll make a nice hollow sound.
Never burn green wood (defined as wood with a moisture content greater than 20%) as even with the most advanced stove technology, this inevitably results in increased pollution and a stove that’s just not efficient. This may sound obvious – but you shouldn’t burn scrap wood from building sites. Painted or treated wood gives off toxic fumes as well as contributing to particulate pollution. Added to this, just like burning green wood, it can cause tar and deposits to build up in your chimney that can lead to chimney fires and will release noxious chemicals into the atmosphere. In particular, old tanalised wood contains arsenic and should never be used as fuel.