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The professional Bournemouth chimney sweep service you can trust
Professional chimney sweep service for Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch & Dorset

Monday 25 March 2024

Comprehensive Guide to Firewood for Your Wood Burner (UK)

Crackling fire in your wood burner brings warmth, ambience, and a touch of rustic charm to your home. But to get the most out of your wood burner, using the right firewood is crucial. This guide explores everything you need to know about firewood selection, storage, and burning techniques for optimal performance in your UK wood burner.

Choosing the Right Firewood:

  • Hardwood vs. Softwood:

    • Hardwood: The champion of wood burners! Hardwoods like oak, ash, beech, and birch are denser and burn hotter and cleaner for longer periods. They produce less smoke and creosote buildup, reducing the risk of chimney fires.
    • Softwood: While readily available and often cheaper, softwoods like pine, spruce, and fir burn quickly and at a lower temperature. They produce more smoke and require more frequent refilling, leading to higher fuel consumption. Use them sparingly, perhaps for kindling.
  • Moisture Content: Seasoned is key! Ideally, your firewood should have a moisture content of 20% or less. Freshly cut wood contains a lot of water, which creates less heat, reduces burning efficiency, and can lead to smoke and chimney problems.

  • Buying Firewood:

    • Wood Yards and Merchants: Many reputable firewood suppliers in the UK offer seasoned hardwood in various sizes and quantities. They may also offer delivery services.
    • Foresters and Tree Surgeons: Sometimes, local foresters or tree surgeons may have seasoned firewood available for purchase.

Storing Firewood:

  • Seasoning: If you buy unseasoned wood, you'll need to season it yourself. This involves storing the wood in a well-ventilated, dry, and preferably covered area for at least 6 months across a good summer, ideally a year or two, to allow the moisture content to reduce naturally. Stack the wood neatly, allowing air circulation between logs.
  • Accessibility: Store your firewood in a convenient location for easy access during winter months. Ideally, keep it close to your wood burner but away from any heat sources that could further dry it out.

Burning Techniques:

  • Building the Fire:
    • Use crumpled newspaper or firelighters as tinder.
    • Top with kindling (small, dry pieces of softwood) to create a flame.
    • Gradually add progressively larger logs of seasoned hardwood for a sustained burn.
  • Airflow Control: The air vent on your wood burner regulates airflow, which affects the intensity of the fire. A good starting point is to keep the air vent partially open during the initial stages to establish the fire. As the fire gets going, you can adjust the air vent to control the burning rate. Aim for a steady flame without excessive smoke.
  • Refueling: Add new logs gradually as the existing ones burn down. Avoid overloading the firebox, as this can restrict airflow and smother the flames.

Additional Tips:

  • Always burn wood only: Never burn household waste, plastics, or treated wood in your wood burner. These materials can release harmful fumes and damage your chimney.
  • Chimney Sweeping: Get your chimney swept regularly by a qualified chimney sweep, typically once a year when using your wood burner frequently. This helps remove soot buildup and reduces the risk of chimney fires.
  • Sustainable Sourcing: Consider buying firewood from vendors who source their wood sustainably. This ensures responsible forestry practices and helps preserve our woodlands.

The Importance of Moisture Meter:

  • Don't rely on guesswork! Invest in a wood moisture meter. This handy tool measures the moisture content of your firewood, ensuring it's properly seasoned for optimal burning.
  • Aim for a moisture content of 20% or below before burning your firewood.

Enjoy the Warmth!

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your wood burner provides efficient heating, a cozy atmosphere, and a touch of environmental responsibility. Remember, using the right firewood and burning practices are crucial for optimal performance and safety. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the warmth of your wood burner fire!

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This article was written by Jim Chim-in-ey

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