With the temperature turning colder and ongoing debates around the pollution wood stoves can create, a new scheme has been launched to help stove owners buy the best wood fuel for their stoves.
If you already own a stove, you’ll probably know that it’s recommended you only burn dry logs, not wet ones. But how do you know whether the logs you’re buying really contain as little moisture as it says on the packaging?
The new government-backed scheme, put into place by wood quality-assurance organisation Woodsure, will see ‘Ready to Burn’ logos (see below) added to wood that has 20% or less moisture content.
If you’re looking to buy a stove or want more advice on using yours, our guide to wood burning stoves tells you everything you need to know.
Ready to Burn scheme for wood stoves
There are a number of reasons why burning wet wood is not advised:
- It releases more potentially harmful particulates/air pollution into the air than burning dry wood.
- It produces less heat, because the energy is being used to burn the water off first.
- It takes longer to burn, again because the moisture has to evaporate first.
- It creates more sooty deposits in your chimney, which could become a fire risk and will mean your stove needs maintaining more frequently.
The widely recognised recommendation from industry bodies is to only burn wood that has 20% or less moisture content. To ensure stove owners are buying wood this dry, Woodsure gives approved suppliers the label, along with advice for customers.
To qualify under the Ready to Burn scheme, wood manufacturers must meet certain criteria. Their wood is also tested and verified by Woodsure.
Find out more about buying fuel and maintaining your stove in our guide to using a stove – it includes how-to videos on burning fuel effectively.
Top tips for using your wood stove
- As well as looking for the Ready to Burn logo, choose wood fuel that has as low a moisture content as possible. Wood pellets and briquettes (fuel created from crushing recycled wood or paper) are likely to have the lowest – typically around 10%.
- You can buy ‘wet’ logs and dry them out yourself, which will be cheaper. But they will need around two years to dry, and you will need to have enough space to store them so they don’t get wetter.
- Don’t ever burn wood that has been treated, such as old furniture, as it may emit harmful fumes.
- If you’re keen to keep costs down, buying in bulk should help. Consider clubbing together with neighbours or friends, but again, make sure you’ll have room to store it in a dry place.
- Get your stove serviced and chimney swept once a year, preferably just before winter, to ensure it’s in good working order and the chimney is clear.
Visit our page on stove cost to find out more about the cost of buying different types of wood. On this page, you can also use our calculation to work out whether using a stove could save you money on your energy bills.
Reducing pollution with EcoDesign Ready stoves
In a bid to make stoves more energy efficient, and to reduce any pollution they produce, earlier this year the Stove Industry Alliance launched the Ecodesign Ready initiative.
New EU standards coming into force by 2022 mean that stoves will not only need to be more efficient, but also meet new emission limits.
This means that Ecodesign stoves should burn fuels more completely, making them more efficient in the amount of heat they give off, and burn off more harmful particulates and gases before they leave the stove.
The aim of the Ecodesign Ready scheme is to encourage manufacturers start making stoves to this standard now. Any stove labelled Ecodesign Ready already complies with the five emission elements of the new rules (although not all criteria).
You can read more about Ecodesign Ready stoves in our news story.