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26 Feb 2019

Is the way you're using your wood-burning stove polluting our planet?

More than a quarter of stove owners don't know what the best fuel is for minimising pollution
Wood burner

The pollution produced bystoveshas been hitting the headlines recently - and it seems it's on stove owners' radars, too.More than a third of the 1,434stoveowners* we asked are somewhat or very concerned about the effects ofstoves on pollution. But there are things you can do, so if you're one of them, keep reading.

Burning solid fuel in homes contributes to 38% of our national emissions of potentially harmful particulate matter, according to theDepartment for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). But this figure is likely to include all types of solid fuel burning, such as people using open fireplaces and burning the most polluting fuels.

Read on to find out how to limit your stove emissions. Or visit our guide tostovesand pollutionto find out what the government is doing to decrease the effects ofstoveson pollution.

Don't use wet logs or house coal on yourstove

Nearly a third of the people we asked didn't know the best fuel to use to create less pollution. We also found that 5% use wet logs and 4% house coal, the worst fuels for polluting our planet.

Wood fuel

The drier the wood, the more efficient it will be and the less harmful the particulate matter it will produce.Seasoned logs - where you or the supplier has dried out the logs - are the most cost-effective.

A good rule of thumb is toonly burn wood with a maximum of 20% moisture. You can either look for logs with a Ready to Burn logo, showing that they have been verified as fit to burn, or by using a moisture meter yourself.

Dry firewood for a stove


House coal produces more emissions than smokeless fuel. This includes sulphur, of which high levels can irritate your airways and cause them to constrict.

Smokeless fuel is an umbrella term for a few different types of coals that produce less smoke as they burn. It includes anthracite coal, which occurs naturally, but can also be manufactured.

Ideally, you should use smokeless fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 2%.

Visit our page tousing a log burner or multi-fuelstovefor more advice on the types of fuels to use and their costs.

Never leave yourstove to slumber

Some 14% of thestoveowners we spoke to 'slumber' theirstove - eg setting it to burn at a low output -most of the time, and 5% said they do this every time they use theirstove.

Slumbering or allowing yourstoveto smoke is a sure-fire way to increase its emissions, so ensure your fire has a visible flame by using yourstove's air vents.

We have videos on ourusing astovepage that talks you through lighting yourstoveand keeping it burning well.

Chimney smoking

Keep your log burner or multi-fuelstoveclean

When we askedstoveowners what fuel is best for keeping theirstoveclean, 18% said they didn't know.

Wetter fuel that smokes a lot will produce more soot and tar that will potentially clog up yourstoveand chimney.Using the right fuel will help.

However, any fuel will create some build-up, so it is still important to get your chimney cleaned regularly and ensure it doesn't have any faults, such as cracks.

We were pleased to hear that the highest proportion ofstoveowners we quizzed (59%) get theirstoveswept yearly. But 31% only do it every few years and 4% never get their chimneys or stoves swept.

If you're looking for a chimney sweep in your area, you can useWhich? Trusted Tradersto find a fully vetted tradesperson.

(*Survey of1,434stoveowners and Which? members conducted in January 2019).