Woodfuel quality – problem solver

Why it’s important to only burn quality seasoned wood

If you burn green or damp wood your stove will simply not operate correctly

  • Damp wood will hiss and spit in the fire. Moisture is being evaporated before the wood begins to burn, this wastes energy that should be heating the room
  • Damp wood smoke carries unburnt fuel into the flue pipe. The flamible tars and creosote are deposited in the flue as smoke cools, a potential cause of chimney fires
  • Using damp wood it will be impossible to reach the optimum fire chamber temperature for maximum efficiency. The stove will run cool, produce smoke and fail to perform at it’s best
  • Throwing damp logs onto a stove causes the fire chamber temperature to crash, stifling what previously looked like a good fire. Much like dropping chilled vegertables into boiling water, the temperature drops fast and sometimes cannot recover.

Wood fuel must be seasoned in order to drive off most of it’s water. Try to use logs with ideally 20% moisture content, or less.

Woodfuel quality based on approximate percentages of water content;

DO NOT USE – Green (wet) wood 50 – 110 % water content
POOR – 1 year seasoned wood 25 – 50 % water content
GOOD – 2-3 year seasoned wood 15 – 25 % water content
BEST – Kiln dried & Solar seasoned (greenhouse) logs 5 – 20 % water content

(Mechanically manufactured Compressed briquettes and Pellets 2 – 10 % water content)

If felling trees or collecting your own timber, leave wood in the sun to dry over summer. Allow plenty of air circulation through the pile and rotate occasionally. When required pick the driest logs by checking them with a moisture meter.

A brief history of firewood and fuel

Britons have been burning firewood for thousands of years. The industrial revolution marked a change in energy use for our country. The rapid growth in this period was driven by the availability of energy rich coal and it’s delivery into cities by train. Up until that time the whole country cooked and heated exclusively using wood. Fireplaces were quickly converted from large open log grates into shallow cast iron insets for coal fires. Sadly we lost many traditions such as spit-roasted beef and woodfired bread ovens at this time.

Coal became an every-man’s fuel in the cities and towns, where most homes changed their fireplace regularly to keep up with the latest technology for efficient use of coal. However people in the countryside either did not have access to coal, or wood was pelntiful so continued to burn wood on their large open fires.

Coal is more energy dense than wood, so easire to transport. However it is a dirty and dusty fuel, it cannot be cooked over and the fine smuts from an open fire fill the home with ash and dirt. British households were now slaves to the coal fire, abundant energy made them warmer and more comfortable but caused dirt in the home and tainted fabrics. Extra domestic chores meant more frequent scrubbing and washing so even more coal was burnt to heat water for cleaning. Coal became a self-perpetuating commodity.

Now we are moving back to using wood as a fuel source. Not only does to produce a more attractive flame, it is a renewable non-fossil fuel and it grows on trees. Wood can be cooked over and the ashes thrown on the garden, making it far more versatile than coal for use in the home, garden firepit or even pizza ovens. Long before humans purchased their fuel in garage forecourts they collected it from the woods as fallen trees or deadwood. The best logs were air dried with deep splits and shakes, just as they should be now. If it’s not good enough for bronze age man, it’s not good enough to put on a stove.

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Unsure about a log supplier?

Always demand well seasoned wood and ask if it’s been tested for moisture

Don’t waste money buying wet wood, demand well seasoned logs. If you have trouble sourcing a reliable fuel consider kiln dried logs or season your own and enjoy trouble free heating.

If you suspect that your logs may be too wet, bring them into our shop for a free moisture test. If you paid good money for seasoned logs, make sure that’s exactly what was delivered.

Scandinavian countries rely on wood as a backup heating source during their long winters. In some parts of Northern Norway it is a requirement that each home has an efficient woodburning stove in case of power-cuts or isolation by snow. The log seller also bears extra responsibility, selling timber with more than 25% moisture is an offence. They simply do not accept poorly seasoned fuel. Neither should we!

To purchase a Moisture Meter
visit our Accessories page

In shop free wood moisture test at Orion Heating

We offer a free wood moisture test using electronic Moisture Meters. It’s a basic check using the calibrated conductivity of untreated wood. The moisture meters are also available for purchase, ready for checking your next delivery of seasoned logs.
Feel free to visit the shop to discuss your logs, we’ll test one while you wait and let you know the moisture content.

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