Fuel for Stoves Guide:
The beauty of using wood fuel is the fact that it is one of the best sources of renewable energy and if burned correctly there is virtually no smoke. There are many sustainable managed forestry projects up and down the UK and the fact that using wood will actually reduce net CO2 emissions compared to fossil fuels is obviously another major attraction. However, to ensure that you get the best value for money you need to be aware of the different types of wood fuel on the market, which wood fuels are more suitable to you and the pros and cons of certain products.
Factors to Consider:
There are many different factors to consider when looking at different types of wood fuel and we will now cover some of these below. Moisture content In simple terms wet wood is significantly less efficient than dry wood and there are potential side-effects which can impact the efficiency of your stove and your chimney. When burning wet wood, assuming you can get the wood to light, it will create tar and smoke which can not only corrode the lining of your flue but in some instances has been known to encourage chimney fires. When you also take into account the fact that it will almost certainly blacken the glass within your stove there is no benefit in burning wet wood even if you may be able to save a few pounds compared to its dry wood counterpart. While you can buy dry wood readily available in many places across the UK you can also buy green logs which are wet wood that you can dry yourself over a period of time. If you decide to dry your own wood you should store these in a well aired space for a minimum of one summer season and potentially seasons to get the best out of your fuel. Before burning the fuel you should use a moisture meter to check that all is well and it is ready to burn.
While you may not have considered the density of your wood fuel it is worth noting that hardwood is significantly denser than softwood and in general hardwood will burn for longer. As a consequence you will likely pay more for hardwood than you would for softwood when buying in significant volume. In simple terms, the heating value of any wood fuel is approximately proportionate to the weight of the wood – something you should always bear in mind.
Any wood that you burn on your stove, or any other kind of fire, should never be contaminated with paint or preservatives. Not only will it impact upon the efficiency of the wood fuel but it is highly likely that it will produce harmful gas emissions which can either corrode your chimney lining or in some cases be hazardous to your health. There is no sense whatsoever in taking any chances with any type of fuel and contaminated fuel should be avoided at all costs.
While hardwood briquettes are not as popular as dry wood or hardwood they do most certainly offer some very interesting characteristics and efficiency savings. They are environmentally friendly due to the fact they are traditionally made from industry by products and they are relatively dense which means that they require reduced storage space compared to traditional wood fuel. The fuel itself is very clean to handle, readily available and while you may need to adjust the settings on your stove to get the best value for money they do offer significant benefits. If you have never tried briquettes before we strongly recommend burning a relatively low amount first of all and then increasing the number as and when required.
The production of wood chip is heavily regulated by numerous European specifications which cover particle size and moisture content. They are proving more and more popular because when used correctly they can increase the efficiency of stoves and domestic sized boilers and are very reliable. They are most certainly a useful alternative wood fuel for an array of stoves and larger sized boilers, etc.
There are a variety of wood pellets available on the market and they tend to come in diameter options of 6mm or 8mm. They are more widely used in the biomass boiler market and the production of this type of fuel is strictly regulated by European standards. Before acquiring wood pellets you will need to confirm the standard because poor quality wood pellets tend to crumble and will be significantly less efficient than those produced in the correct manner.