When we started Certainly Wood in 2005, having pioneered the drying of firewood in our own unique kilns, the term ‘kiln dried logs’ was rather unusual when it came to logs for the fire, and firewood was still very much the dominant term. It seems that in the last couple of years, with the introduction of the government’s new legislation banning the sale of wet wood and Woodsure’s new ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme, the term ‘Kiln dried logs’ has now taken over ‘firewood’. Is this the point at which we can claim that people finally better understand its importance?
1. Take up less space
Firewood is very bulky compared to gas or oil, so storage can be a real issue, particularly if you decide to ‘season’ (dry) your own logs. If you have one woodburning stove and use it on evenings and weekends, you are likely to use 3-4m3 (loose fill) per annum. On average, it can take 2-3 years to season your logs, so at best, you would need space to store 6m3 of logs. This space will need decent storage to ensure the logs are off the ground, have excellent ventilation and a roof and sufficient protection from driving rain.
2. Easier to store and more convenient
One of the great benefits of kiln dried logs is that they have been ‘seasoned’ for you, so there is no need to worry about a large area of storage, you can literally buy them when you want, and in whatever order size you wish. Of course, it is always best to stock up for winter and ensure you are covered for at least a month ahead if you use a wood-burning stove or open fire to keep warm in winter. These days you can even buy much smaller quantities and get them delivered the following day, just in time for a summer weekend of entertaining, cooking pizzas in the wood-fired pizza oven and sitting around the fire pit. Kiln dried logs can also be stored anywhere but always under cover to keep off the rain.
3. Burn better
Whilst seasoning your own is clearly an option, and you can achieve good results, kiln dried logs will generally be far more consistent in their quality, and moisture content will be between 10-20%. This means the logs will burn much better and are far easier to manage on any wood-burning appliance, indoors or outdoors. Keeping a good flame is just so much easier, and fire without the flame or red-hot embers is never the same.
4. Smell great
This might not be so obvious and probably not unique to kiln dried logs, but it certainly seems to be the case with our logs, so I assume it must be the drying process we use, drying the logs at high temperatures and for between 40-60 hours. Certainly Wood’s logs have a distinctive sweet smell when they come out of the kiln, and many a customer comments on the lovely scent – now there’s a benefit you hadn’t thought of!
5. No creepy crawlies
Another benefit of the kiln drying process, as long as they are properly kiln dried, is that it is excellent against pests and disease. It guarantees to kill all the bugs on the logs, so you can be sure that you won’t be taking anything unwanted into the house. Our kilns are heated to over 100oC for over 40 hrs., so not much survives. However, just a word of warning as I have seen it several times before – because the logs are so lovely and dry, they can become an attractive place for wasps and some other insects to make their home over winter – so just be warned.
6. More cost-effective
This has always been one of our challenges over the years – convincing people of the cost benefits of buying more expensive kiln dried logs. It was difficult at first, but once people have tried burning kiln dried logs, they rarely return to the poorer quality of poorly seasoned logs. They realize that every one of the nine other reasons to buy kiln dried logs listed here amounts to this very reason – that kiln dried logs are far more cost-effective.
7. Burn hotter
The kiln drying process removes most of the moisture from the log and, most importantly, from the core of the log. When firewood is burnt, it gives off volatile gases, and it is these volatiles that ignite to give out the real heat. If wood has too much moisture, all the energy goes to burning off the water and just doesn’t get to the point of producing heat until much later in the process. Once again, you won’t appreciate this fact until you have compared the two, and so many times, people have come back to me and said, ‘I see what you mean, I had no idea of the difference it makes, and I really thought my logs were dry.’
8. Less smoke
Quite often, people will say that one of the reasons they love burning wood is the lovely smell of smoke. I intend to agree, but there is definitely a level at which smoke is lovely, and smoke is awful! So, why does it smoke – To be honest, there are a few reasons, but fundamentally it will be because the wood is not sufficiently dry enough. Other reasons could be because the logs are not getting enough oxygen and so will ‘slumber’ and smoke, or when the logs have a thick corky bark such as willow, and this can often be a cause for more smoke. However dry your wood, you will always get some smoke when the fire is being lit, because as the saying goes ‘there is no smoke without fire!
9. Use less fuel
This is an interesting one as many people will say that the problem with kiln dried logs is that they burn too fast, so you use a lot more logs. To a degree, if you are using an open fire, there is an element of truth in that statement, but use a wood-burning stove, and in particular one of the new and more efficient Ecodesign or clearSkies accredited stoves, and you will very quickly see how much less fuel you use. Because the combustion is so much more efficient, providing far more heat, you need far fewer logs for the same heat output. About two years ago, I upgraded my 12-year-old stove to a new Charnwood Aire Ecodesign stove, and wow, I was amazed at the difference, and I genuinely believe I use about 20% less fuel. At first, I thought this wouldn’t be good for our business but quickly realized that if everyone used modern Ecodesign stoves, we would all be winners. A year later, my brother George, a business co-founder, put a new Stovax Vogue Ecodesign stove in one of the farm cottages. He was also blown away by the increased efficiency.
10. Better for the environment
Wood burning in recent years has been getting some negative press, and as is often the case, it’s a minority that wants to get them banned. Highlighting the fact that wood burning does produce harmful particulates is only right. However, all the work done over the last five years or more by the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA), of which we are founder members and Defra, has been highly beneficial. The result of this has been the introduction of a new European standard for stoves – Ecodesign, although the industry is taking steps to take this even further with the new clearSkies accreditation scheme. In 2021 Defra banned the sale of wet wood and introduced the Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme, which guarantees that only wood below 20% moisture content can be sold. Combining these factors will lead to an ever-decreasing risk to our health and the environment making wood burning the perfect solution for low-carbon home heating.
Want to purchase kiln dried logs? Check out our firewood selection here.
Snell 6th Aug 2022