It may sound blatantly obvious, but it is your fuel that burns, not your stove. As such, the type of firewood you burn will affect how the stove runs. Just as the food we eat affects our health, so the wood we burn in our stoves affects the overall health of the stove. Here are our top wood burning tips to help you find the best wood to burn in your stove.
Why Burn Wood?
Whilst you can also get multifuel stoves, on which you can burn coal and peat in addition to wood, this article is primarily concerned with wood burning. To learn more about the pros and cons of wood burning vs multifuel, read our dedicated blog post here.
Wood is the preferable fuel for a number of reasons. First of all, compared with fossil fuels it is much cleaner, both for the environment and your stove. Indeed, if you burn dry wood on an Ecodesigned stove, it is just about carbon neutral, and can actually release less CO2 than if the wood was left to rot down naturally. It is also (at the time of writing) significantly easier and cheaper to source than coal.
In addition, wood is a renewable source of energy, as long as it is responsibly sourced. Indeed, many stove manufacturers are actively involved in tree planting, and offsetting their carbon footprint. For example, Woodwarm Stoves are partners with the Trees for Cities, a charity aimed at improving air quality in the UK and with whom Woodwarm are committed to planting a tree for every Eco stove sold.
We may be biased but we believe that the heat from wood is just, well, nicer! It's a softer, cosier warmth that just can't be beaten. If you don’t believe us, drop in to our showroom and see (and feel!) for yourself!
What Wood Should I Use?
Whilst there are many different types of wood, some woods are better for your stove than others. You might be tempted to throw on any old twigs or fallen branches from your garden, but you should ensure you are only burning good quality wood if you want to get the most our of your stove. Read on for our tips for the best wood to burn.
Keep It Dry!
Whether you have a wood burner or a multifuel stove, the wood you burn should above all be dry. We recommend seasoning newly cut wood for at least two years. If it is possible, and you have the space to do so, we would highly recommend investing in a good quality log store, with enough space for you to start seasoning wood for the future.
Otherwise, always make sure that the wood has no more than 18% moisture, by using a moisture meter.
Burning wet fuel is bad for a number of reasons. Over time it can do real damage to stoves and flue, causing tarring, blackening of glass, and in bad cases, chimney fires, due to the deposits it leaves in the flue. When wood is burnt wet, a lot of energy is used up in trying to dry the wood, so the heat output from wet fuel is noticeably colder.
Hard or Soft?
Whilst you can burn either hard or soft woods on your stove, hard is much more preferable. This is because soft woods can retain a lot of moisture, so it is very hard to dry them out completely. Soft woods also tend to hold more sap, which makes them harder to burn.
It is true that soft wood is cheaper than hard, but this is for a reason! Well dried soft wood is much lighter and burns far quicker than hard wood, so whilst you might think you're grabbing a bargain, in the long run it can cost you as much, if not more, than buying hard wood, which will burn for much longer.
Stay Away from Treated Woods
You should never burn wood that has been chemically treated. These woods have been treated with various chemicals and preservatives that if burnt, will release an array of toxic chemicals, which can be highly dangerous to you and your family, whilst also releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
Likewise you should not burn waste wood, and should never burn wood from whisky barrels. Having been soaked in alcohol for years on end, they burn extremely hot and can seriously damage your stove, warping the internals of your stove.
Which Wood? Our Recommendations.
When it comes to what wood to use in a wood burning stove, our favourites include birch and oak. Both are among the best woods to burn. Birch is considered a hard wood, however it is worth noting that the quality of it can vary depending on its source. We are lucky that in Scotland, due to the climate, birch grows much slower, making it much harder, whereas birch that grows quicker will be softer.
We like to use a mix of birch and oak, starting a fire with birch to build up a nice bed of embers, before moving onto oak. Due to oak’s density, it is best not to use it when initially lighting your stove, however, once you have built up a good bed of embers it burns very well and gives a fantastic heat.
The type of wood you burn is important for the overall maintenance of your stove, and burning the right sort of wood will allow you to get the most out of using it. By following the tips above, you and your stove will be all the better. Not only will you be cosier, but the use of your stove will be easier and more enjoyable. So go on, put another log on the stove…