Are wood burners bad for the environment?
No - A log burner is often seen as a sustainable heating method because it uses renewable energy rather than fossil fuels.
However, many misleading and incorrect studies have portrayed wood burning negatively, stating that they contribute far more emissions (particulate matter – PM2.5) than even diesel cars. Initially, it was expressed within the government's Clean Air Strategy in 2019 that burning wood in domestic wood burners makes up for 38% of the UK's primary emissions of fine particulate matter.
In early 2022, however, after pressure from the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) and supported by scientific evidence, Defra agreed and published the fact that the figure was significantly overstated and was more likely to be nearer to 17%.
Further research by the SIA has shown that approx, 50% of all emissions from domestic woodburning actually come from outdoor burning such as bonfires, firepits, pizza ovens and chimeneas. That would further reduce the Defra figure and if you take into account modern stoves that meet the higher clearSkies certification mark, then emissions are further reduced.
The SIA now state that when using an Ecodesign or clearSkies certified stove with high quality ‘Ready to Burn’ certified fuel, emissions from domestic wood burning in your home are more likely to be nearer to 1.5%.
You can find more information and statistics here.
Are wood burners bad for your health?
No, a literature review commissioned by the SIA, that looks at studies into the contribution of wood-burning stoves to indoor particulate matter (PM) in the developed world has found no scientific evidence for adverse health effects.
The most shocking revelation from this review was that more PM2.5 is released from activities like burning candles, using hairspray and frying than from a modern wood-burning stove. Read the full blog here.
What do I need to light a wood burner?
Dry logs – If you are seasoning your own firewood, use a moisture meter to check the logs are dried down to below 20% moisture content. This could take you 2-3 years to achieve depending on the species, size of logs etc.
If you are buying your firewood, ensure you buy from an approved Woodsure ‘Ready to Burn’ supplier.
Hardwood logs are by far the best to burn as they burn for longer than softwood logs, sometimes upto twice as long. There is, however, nothing wrong with burning softwood firewood, but you might need twice as many logs for the same heat output.
Kindling- Kindling is traditionally used to light the fire and, along with a firelighter, makes firelighting much easier. Traditionally, kindling is about 15cm (6 inches) long with a diameter of 1-3cm and you only need 4-6 sticks per fire.
Flamers Natural Firelighters- Far better than the rather smelly paraffin firelighters and when used with kindling you only need ONE per fire.
KindleFlamer - These are a new natural firelighter and negate the need for kindling. Just one KindleFlamer with logs is all you need – a real revelation in firelighting with the advantage that you no longer need to purchase or store kindling by the fire – saves money too!
Lighter / Matches – any fire lighting device or we simply recommend traditional wooden matches.
Newspaper – If using the above, you don't need newspaper which still a lot of people use. It's full of inks too, so perhaps not best burnt!
How to light my woodburner or open fire?
Lighting your fire should be very simple and take only a couple of minutes if you follow these simple steps:
- Riddle/scrape the grate to allow the fine ash to fall through into the ash tray beneath. Leaving larger pieces of ash (klinker) on the grate is fine. There is no need to sweep it totally clean before each fire.
- Check that the ash pan is not full as this will limit air flow. Empty if required but be careful not to spill or spread the fine ash as this will release dust (particulates) into the room. If this happens, make sure you ventilate the room.
- There are two ways we recommend to light your fire, but both are what are now termed as the ‘top down’ method as recommended by all the major wood burning stove manufacturers. This method allows the flue to heat up much faster and therefore increasing draft and reducing emissions.
Option 1 – No kindling required
Option 2 – with kindling
Leave the fire for about 5-10 mins and once the logs are burning well, open to stove door to re-fuel with a couple of logs, close the door, wait until the new logs are burning nicely and them turn the air vents down to slow the flame, but not enough to stop the flame.
Read more on the best ways to light your fire here.
How do I maintain a good fire?
Here are our tips for maintaining a really good fire:
- Obviously, only use kiln dried logs or logs that have been dried to below 20% moisture. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can put on damper logs to slow the fire down – It won’t work and will make the stove glass go black and send unwanted soot and tar up the chimney or flue.
- When you open the stove door, open it slowly to allow the air to equalize between the room and the stove.
- When refuelling, don’t overload the stove or fire – just place two new logs onto the fire and always with air gaps between the logs. Don’t smother the fire and restrict airflow.
- Allow the new logs to start burning through before turning the airflow down.
- Always maintain a flame as this means the fire is burning most efficiently with the least amount of emissions.
Considerations when lighting your woodburning stove or open fire
Prepare: Check you have a sufficient supply of dry logs near the fire with a good range of log sizes. Ensure you have sufficient kindling and Flamers Natural Firelighters, or if using the amazing new KindleFlamers, no kindling is required. Of course, don’t forget the matches!
Open the stove door, clean the door glass if required, either using newspaper, warm water and vinegar or we highly recommend using the ‘Atmosfire’ dry wipe stove cleaner by Schott Robax. It is recommended to griddle any excess ash to the tray beneath, but make sure the ash tray is not full – periodically empty.
Lighting the fire - top-down method: All stove manufacturers and distributors now recommend what is known as the ‘top down’ method for lighting fires. The reason for this is to ensure the newly lit flame heats the chimney or flue as fast as possible which makes the fire draw more quickly. Not only does this make firelighting easier, but it also reduces smoke and therefore more eco-friendly with less particulate emissions.
There is also another, perhaps unrealised benefit of this method. You will never get bridging of the logs or kindling and return to a fire that has gone out. It eradicates all these issues, and you can return to the fire after 15-20 minutes to find a roaring log fire – perfect! See below the two methods of lighting your fires using the top-down method.
Airflow: To run an efficient fire, there should be just enough airflow to ensure a gentle flame. If the fire starts to smoke, it needs more air. Smoke means inefficient combustion and is to be avoided at all times to minimise particulate emissions.
Don’t let the fire go right down to just a few hot embers. Keep a good base to the fire and ideally re-fuel little and often. Do not pile 4-5 logs on the fire and overload. It will just lead to an inefficient burn.
Re-fueling: When refuelling, open the door slowly to neutralise the air pressure before opening fully. Place one or two logs, ideally on their edge and crossing each other, ensuring maximum airflow between the logs. Close the door, open the air vents until the logs have good flame. Once burning nicely, reduce the airflow again for minimum flame.
What is the best wood burner?
To be honest this will be down to personal preference in terms of style, but also things such as:
- Size and type of room
- Likely usage – regular or just special occasions
- Fuel type – woodburning only or multifuel.
But whatever your choice, we recommend you visit a few showrooms to talk to the professionals and look at the ranges available. Finally, make sure you invest in the latest technology and the most efficient stove possible. Don’t go cheap and always have the stove installed by a registered installer.
Are wood burners worth it?
Well, we are bound to say yes. It is a personal preference of course and can either be regarded as a ‘lifestyle’ choice for the occasional relaxing evening by the fire with friends or as an essential part of your home heating and used regularly to save money on your overall heating costs.
This will depend on the costs of other fuels at the time as to which is the most cost effective, but also whether you wish to use a renewable source of fuel rather than fossil fuels.
If you presently have an open fire and so enjoy the benefits it brings, then we would highly recommend you consider buying a modern Ecodesign stove that provides a far more efficient burn and ensures you will not be wasting heat energy up the chimney. You will also use significantly less firewood.
Finally, whether an open fire, wood burning stove, or any other wood burning appliance don’t forget the significant benefits to one’s wellbeing – nothing beats watching the flickering flames of a log fire. Read more here about the well-being benefits of woodburner.
What fuel is best for indoor wood burners?
Answer - Any firewood under 20% moisture content, which has been Ready to Burn approved.
It is essential that you use dry firewood in your stove. Stove manufacturers only recommend a maximum of 20% moisture content and so you need to look for the new HETAS/Woodsure, ‘Ready to Burn’ logo which guarantees the logs are below 20%. This scheme is supported by DEFRA to help improve fuel quality. All Certainly Wood kiln dried logs are approved under this scheme. You can find more information here.
This quality will ensure a clean burn with no blackening of the stove glass or build-up of soot or tar in the chimney or flue. It also means that you will use far less firewood in an efficient stove, so it is more cost-effective.
Our kiln dried logs are ‘Ready to Burn’ so you need to ensure they are stored in a cool dry place, either in a log store or garage.
Woodburner vs Central Heating
The Russian invasion of Ukraine caused an energy crisis across Europe and not only have oil and gas prices risen dramatically, but so too has electricity.
As a consequence, kiln dried logs became the cheapest form of domestic heating fuel with household costs 74% lower per kWh than electricity and 21% less than gas heating. Modern wood burning stoves also cost 29% less to run than an air source heat pump. These findings are as a result of recent research carried out by the Nottingham Energy Partnership.
Our blog written in November 2022, discusses this topic further.
Do wood burners add value to your house?
In September 2022, the Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) reported an increase in sales of wood burning stoves from its members of over 40%, and since then, this figure has increased again. This figure alone proves the increasing popularity of wood burning stoves, and what many may not realise, wood burners can actually increase your homes value by 5%. 
Does a wood burner need a chimney?
Breathe a sigh of relief - a wood burner without a chimney really is possible. Although it's a bit more complicated than if you did have a chimney, the simple answer is you will need to install a twin wall chimney flue system to ensure the fumes are directed outside. 
What firewood is best for an open fire?
When burning firewood logs on an open appliance, it’s impossible to control the air flow and because of this, very dry firewood can sometimes burn more quickly than you'd like.
The best solution for this is to burn our ‘kiln dried chunky logs’ that have a thicker diameter (10-21cm) and so provide a longer burn. The moisture content in the centre of the log is naturally a bit higher (avg 30%) but the overall moisture content will be within the Ready to Burn guidance below 20%. It is also just as important to have some smaller logs for getting the fire started, so perhaps consider a combination of standard and chunky logs when planning your winter stock up.
Never be tempted to go for poorly seasoned firewood. While they will burn slower, you will most likely find they produce a lot of smoke which, if burned on an open fire, will be released into the room.
What are the benefits and disadvantages of wood burning stoves?
- Provides high levels of heat output
- Creates a cozy atmosphere
- New model wood burners are very efficient
- With energy costs surging, wood burners can save you money long term
- Reliability - even with a power cut, you'll still be able to get warm
- Sustainability - wood is a carbon neutral fuel when grown sustainably, all of our firewood is taken from woodland thinnings
- Potential high set up and installation costs
- Have to remember to stock up on fuel
- Maintanance costs - servicing and sweeping
- Safety - if you have pets or young children, you'll need to consider the fact that wood stoves get hot to the touch when in use so may need to use a fire guard
What size log do I need for my indoor woodburner?
Nearly all our logs are cut to a length of 25cm (+/- 10%) and after consulting with the majority of UK stove manufacturers we know these will fit 99% of UK stoves.
The diameter of our standard logs is 5-15cm measured at the widest point of the log. This provides smaller logs to build a good base to the fire and larger ones for a longer burn. We also provide logs with a length of 35cm and 50cm for larger fires or stoves. As they are longer logs, they are also slightly bigger diameter than the 25cm logs.
Check out our bulk bags here.
 Does a woodburning stove add value to your home: https://www.propertypriceadvice.co.uk/home-improvements/does-a-wood-burning-stove-add-value-to-your-home
 Home Building - Does a wood burner need a chimney? - https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/advice/log-burner-without-a-chimney