Ready to Burn firewood produces less smoke & emissions as well as more heat output. The Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme set up by HETAS helps consumers identify firewood that contains less than 20% moisture content.

Is your firewood Ready to Burn?

I suspect many people will probably answer this question with a “Yes of course it is. My local supplier said it has been ‘down’ and ‘seasoning for at least a year”. But is it really properly dried? A smaller number of people might know just how dry the wood should be to be classed as ‘Ready to Burn’.

The Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme has been set up to make it clear to consumers what they’re purchasing, why ‘Ready to Burn’ firewood is important and to encourage retailers to store firewood in a way that means you get the best possible product.  

Having been selling our kiln dried logs for over 10 years and regularly promoting the benefits of dry firewood throughout that time, it continues to be a challenge to educate consumers on the benefits of dry logs.  I have no doubt that progress is being made and people are beginning to realise the importance and benefits.  As a consumer, you’ll find dry logs are easier to light, produce more heat and offer a cleaner burn with less soot and tar build up.  On top of that, they’re also a more efficient burn, so you need less fuel for the same heat output.

What Exactly is Ready to Burn?

So, what is ‘Ready to Burn’ and should you be using Ready to Burn firewood? Quite simply it's firewood that is dried to below 20% moisture content.  The new scheme ensures better labelling for you as a consumer so you understand exactly what you’re buying as well as placing greater responsibility on retailer standards.  For example, the ever-present nets of firewood that appear on garage forecourts across the country are definitely not stored in a way that is designed to keep them dry.  We live in Britain after all.    

Why is Ready to Burn important?      

Having less than 20% moisture is important because it produces the most efficient burn.  Recent trials by Leeds University supported this, finding that between 10% and 20% moisture was best for an efficient burn.  That brings us to the more topical issue of particulate emissions. Recent media coverage has blamed wood burning as a contributor to poor air quality when there is a significant difference between the emissions produced by burning wet logs and dry logs.  The more moisture in the wood, the more emissions it will produce.  By using Ready to Burn firewood, you know that you are burning the cleanest logs that you can.  

Whilst the stove industry is strongly promoting a new range of ‘SIA Ecodesign Ready’ stoves which dramatically improve efficiency levels, Defra (who are responsible for air quality) have finally realised that much of the logs being sold in nets, (particularly those ones on the garage forecourts) are actually not very dry at all and certainly not below 20% moisture content and Ready to Burn. The consequence of people regularly buying these wet logs and taking them home to burn is potentially having a dramatic effect on the reputation of wood burning. Ready to Burn logs are not only easier for you to light but they also cut down contributions to poor air quality.  We, of course, can put this into perspective by considering all the diesel vehicles which pose a much higher risk to air quality, but as an industry, we have a responsibility to do our bit to help make improvements.  

Who is behind the new scheme?

Defra called a roundtable meeting of all the UK’s major log suppliers to ask how they can help. As a result, the Woodsure Ready to Burn scheme has been created as a solution which encourages more people to understand and use Ready to Burn logs.  Products will now be marked with a simple logo to indicate that the firewood which is intended for immediate burning.  At the point of sale, there will be improved labelling, support and information.  Increased information will also be provided to retailers on how to store firewood to keep it in that good condition.  In summary, this scheme will give you confidence that the Ready to Burn firewood you’re buying has a low moisture content, making it easier to light, more efficient and better for air quality.    

For guaranteed quality, look out for your nearest Ready to Burn firewood supplier who is approved under the new scheme and ensure they also carry a certified registration number. At the moment, the scheme does not cover origin so if you want to make sure your logs are British, either ask your supplier where it is sourced or look out for the Grown in Britain logo which many UK log suppliers now use.