Ideal Woods to Burn in a Log Burner
While many people buy wood in handy bags from their nearest filling station or stove retailer, if you have the space, it’s more cost-effective to buy in bulk. But what wood should you buy? We’re going to answer the common questions.
Why be selective when choosing wood for your log burner?
By choosing the right wood for your log burner, you can maximize heating efficiency and save money on energy costs.
Also, some woods release more pollutants when burning, which can foul your chimney and shorten the amount of time between having it swept.
What are the best woods to burn in a log burner?
Not all firewoods are created equal; each has unique characteristics that impact how well they burn. Well-seasoned hardwoods such as ash, oak, or beech are the best woods for log burners.
These woods are denser and burn longer, providing more heat for your home. Softwoods such as pine and cedar are less dense and burn faster, so they are better for starting fires or quick bursts of heat.
How to choose the right wood for your log burner
When choosing the right wood for your log burner, there are a few things to consider:
As mentioned above, hardwoods are denser and burn longer, while softwoods are less dense and burn faster.
Seasoned wood is better for log burners because it contains less moisture. Moisture can create excess smoke and generally creates an unpleasant experience when lighting your fire, and it’s bad for your log burner or stove. We recommend only burning well-seasoned, dry wood in your log burner. See more about moisture below.
It’s helpful to have various sizes as this helps you to choose suitable logs to build your fire. If you’re buying firewood, it will most likely come chopped to a suitable, manageable size; 10″ or 25cm long is common and split to a suitable thickness. However, it’s always worth checking what the manufacturer recommends for your log burner; otherwise, you might have to spend a long time getting acquainted with a saw, axe or log splitter.
Firewood Moisture Levels – Why it’s Important
Burning green wood, also called unseasoned or ‘wet’ wood, should always be avoided. It doesn’t matter what type of wood it is, as burning it is counterproductive and will lead to several problems. The first issue is that it produces excessive smoke, which can be detrimental to your health and the environment. Additionally, burning green wood causes creosote build-up, a sticky tar deposit that can harm your appliance and flue.
Therefore, ensuring that the wood you burn is seasoned and dry is crucial. Seasoned wood has been properly dried and allowed to age (or kiln-dried – see below), eliminating excess moisture content. When you burn seasoned wood, you’ll experience a more efficient and cleaner burn, with less smoke and no creosote build-up. Furthermore, properly seasoned wood provides a higher heat output, meaning you’ll need less of it to keep your home warm.
So, avoid burning green wood to prevent unnecessary health hazards, protect your appliances and flue, and improve the efficiency of your heating system. Always ensure the wood you burn is seasoned and dry to ensure a safe and efficient burn.
If your timber isn’t seasoned, you must store it until it has a suitable moisture content; this can take up to two years. Moisture content below 20% is ideal; investing in a moisture meter is a good idea.
You might see firewood advertised as kiln-dried, and this is fine; it’s a quicker way of seasoning wood than air drying and is adequate for stoves and log burners.
In the UK, those buying quantities of firewood of 2m3 or less should only buy from Ready to Burn accredited suppliers or stockists; more information is available here.
Tips for storing wood for your log burner
Properly storing your firewood is essential, you need it to stay as dry as possible:
- Choose a dry, covered area: Keep your firewood dry by storing it in a covered area such as a shed or garage.
- Stack your wood: Stack your wood off the ground in a way that allows air to circulate to prevent moisture buildup.
- Season your wood by allowing it to dry for at least 6-12 months before burning it in your log burner. If you need to season you’re own wood; it would be a good idea to buy a moisture meter.
What about Kindling, Briquettes and Firelighters?
- Kindling: Any well-dried softwood, like pine, makes excellent kindling. Pine tends to spit quite a bit, and it creates lots of soot, so it isn’t recommended for a main log, but as kindling, it works well and is cost-effective.
- Briquettes: Wood briquettes can be used in a log burner or stove. The best are made of 100% compressed wood and can offer good value.
- Firelighters: There are various types of firelighters on the market, from those manufactured from chemicals to those that are 100% natural. Natural products are wood shavings that are loosely bound into small briquettes and may be dipped in wax to aid combustion. Chemical firelighters are less environmentally friendly so may not be your preferred choice. Birch bark is an alternative if you can find it, and of course, the loosely crumpled newspaper is an age-old method of starting a fire.