Wood Burning Stove benefits & FAQs
- What is the difference between a multi-fuel stove and a wood-burning stove
A multi-fuel stove is designed so that you can burn solid fuels. A multi-fuel stove has a raised grate inside the stove as coal needs an air supply beneath to burn efficiently. They usually also have a riddling plate that allows you to remove any ash that has built up, allowing more air to circulate underneath.
It is important to note that it is not advisable to burn both coal and wood at once. It is very much an ‘either/or’ situation for the simple reason that the sulphuric acid contained in coal and the moisture content found in wood will combine to create a harmful solution that will stick to and damage your stove and flue.
It is also important to note that you should not burn regular household coal in stoves because household coal releases large quantities of think yellow/grey smoke before it ignites properly which can cause explosive flashes that may crack the glass in your stove and can cause damage to your flue. Instead, you should burn manufactured or smokeless fuels such as anthracite.
You should look out for a stove that has a removable raised grate so wood can be burnt on the base of the stove.
You should only burn well-seasoned wood with a moisture content of 20% or less. Please read more about the best type of wood to burn in your stove FAQ below.
If you live in a smoke controlled area you can only burn smokeless fuel such as anthracite.
If you plan on only burning wood you are best to purchase a wood-burning stove rather than a multi-fuel stove.
A wood-burning stove is self-explanatory, it burns only wood. It does not have a raised grate, instead it has a fixed grate with a flat base. Wood burns best on a shallow bed of ashes with air supply from above.
A wood-burning stove is the more environmentally friendly as, unlike coal, wood is a carbon neutral fuel. There is also a lot less manufacturing in producing logs and it may also be an option for you to source wood yourself. If you source wood yourself it is important that you leave it to dry out. This may take up to two years. This will mean that you need a lot of space to have an effective rotation system but will be a lot cheaper than purchasing ready-dried wood. If you live in a smoke controlled area you will need a DEFRA approved stove to burn wood.
- What wood should I burn
Red is Poor : Yellow is OK : Black is Good : Green is Very Good
Alder: Produces poor heat output and it does not last well. Poor
Apple: A very good wood that burns slow and steady when dry, it has small flame size, and does not produce sparking or spitting. Good
Ash: Reckoned by many to be one of best woods for burning. It produces a steady flame and good heat output. It can be burnt when green but like all woods, it burns best when dry. Very Good
Beech: Burns very much like ash, but does not burn well when green. Very Good
Birch: Produces good heat output but it does burn quickly. It can be burnt unseasoned, however the sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use. Good
Blackthorn: Has a slow burn, with good heat production. Good
Cedar: Is a good burning wood that produces a consistent and long heat output. It burns with a small flame, but does tend to crackle and spit and the sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use. Good
Cherry: Is a slow to burn wood that produces a good heat output. Cherry needs to be seasoned well. Good
Chestnut: A poor burning wood that produces a small flame and poor heat output. POOR
Douglas Fir: A poor burning wood that produces a small flame and poor heat output and the sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use. POOR
Elder: A poor burning wood that produces a small flame and poor heat output. POOR
Elm: Is a wood that can follow several burn patterns because of high moisture content, it should be dried for two years for best results. Elm is slow to get going and it may be necessary to use a better burning wood to start it off. Splitting of logs should be done early. Medium
Eucalyptus: Is a fast burning wood. The sap can cause deposits to form in the flue and can increase the risk of a chimney fire if burned unseasoned. POOR
Hawthorn: Is a good traditional firewood that has a slow burn with good heat output. Very Good
Hazel: Is a good but fast burning wood and produces best results when allowed to season. Good
Holly: Is a fast burning wood that produces good flame but poor heat output. Holly will burn green, but best dried for a minimum of a year. POOR
Hornbeam: A good burning wood that burns similar to beech, slow burn with a good heat output. Good
Horse Chestnut: A good wood for burning in wood stoves but not for open fires as it does tend to spit a lot. It does however produce a good flame and heat output. Good(for Stoves)
Laburnum: A very smokey wood with a poor burn. Very POOR – Do not use.
Larch: Produces a reasonable heat output, but it needs to be well seasoned. The sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use. Medium
Laurel: Burns with a good flame but only reasonable heat output. It needs to be well seasoned. Medium
Lilac: Its smaller branches are good to use as kindling, the wood itself burns well with a good flame. Good
Lime: Not a good wood for burning as it produces very little flame or heat output. Poor
Maple: Is a good burning wood that produces good flame and heat output. Good
Oak: Because of its density, oak produces a small flame and very slow burn, it is best when seasoned for a minimum of two years as it is a wood that requires time to season well. Good
Pear: Burns well with good heat output, however it does need to be seasoned well. Good
Pine Species: (Including Leylandii) Burns with a good flame, but the resin sap can cause deposits to form in the flue and can increase the risk of a chimney fire must be well seasoned. Good (with caution)
Plum: A good burning wood that produces good heat output. Good
Poplar: A very smokey wood with a poor burn. Very POOR
Rowan: Is a good burning wood that has a slow burn with good heat output. Very Good
Rhododendron: The older and thick stems can burn well. Good
Robinia (Acacia): Is a good burning wood that has a slow burn with good heat output. It does produce an acrid and dense smoke but this is of course not a problem in a stove. Good (for Stoves)
Spruce: Produces apoor heat output and it does not last well. Poor
Sycamore: Produces a good flame, but with only moderate heat output. Should only be used well-seasoned. Medium
Sweet Chestnut: The wood burns ok when well-seasoned but it does tend to spit a lot. This is of course not a problem in a stove. Medium (for Stoves)
Thorn: One of the best woods for burning. It produces a steady flame and very good heat output, and produces very little smoke. Very Good
Walnut: is a moderate to good burning wood. Medium
Willow: A poor fire wood that does not burn well even when seasoned. Poor
Yew: A good burning wood as it has a slow burn, and produces a very good heat output. Very Good
- What is a DEFRA approved stove?
DEFRA (The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) is the part of the government (along with The Department of Energy & Climate Change or DECC) responsible for keeping our air free from pollution.
If you are buying a stove for environmental reasons or you live in a smoke controlled area you need to look out for stoves that are DEFRA approved or to give it the correct name DEFRA Smoke Exempt Appliance.
For a stove to be DEFRA approved manufactures must modify the top air vent of stoves which prevents you from closing it all the way. When the air supply to a stove is cut off, wood stops burning efficiently and creates a smoky combustion which goes up the chimney. So, with a DEFRA approved stove, even if you shut the top vent all the way down, it won't let you cut off the oxygen to the point where the fire goes out. Most UK cities and large towns will be smoke controlled areas.
- Are wood-burning stoves good for the environment?
Wood is a renewable resource and the most environmentally friendly fuel to burn. Renewable means that wood can be replaced by growing more trees, unlike fossil fuels – coal, gas and oil which are non- renewable resources.
Burning wood is also co2 neutral. When trees grow they absorb co2. Trees, sooner or later will release co2 when they die and there is no difference in the amount released when left to rot or when the wood is burnt. It is important that you source your wood from a local, sustainable source.
Stoves, when operated correctly are up to 85% efficient and loose very little heat compared to an open fire, operating between 10% and 30% efficiency.
The smoke coming out of a chimney from a well operated stove consists mainly of water vapour (except minimal smoke from the flue system on initial lighting which only lasts about 15 minutes). The more efficient an appliance is, the less fuel is required meaning a better impact environment and reduces your carbon footprint.
Points to consider
- Only burn well-seasoned wood at high temperatures with an adequate air supply
- Don’t overload the appliance with wood.
- Use wood sourced from local, well managed and renewable forests.
- If the smoke coming from your chimney is not white or barely visible then your stove is not working efficiently and you should contact us for advice.
- Why do I need a Carbon Monoxide Alarm?
It is a requirement of UK Building Regulations to fit a Carbon Monoxide detector.
Carbon Monoxide is a highly poisonous gas produced by burning carbon based fuels such as gas, coal, oil and wood. It has no taste or colour. The symptoms of Carbon Monoxide poisoning are very similar to that of a cold/flu: headaches, dizziness, fatigue and weakness, so they can often go unnoticed.
- Step by step guide to lighting a stove
If you are lighting a newly installed stove it is important that you build up the temperature over a long period of time. This will allow the stove to cure fully. The first time you light the stove smoke may leak into your room. This is normal so don’t worry. It is the paint work and the stove curing. Keep the room well ventilated to avoid a build-up of fumes.
Always consult manufacturers guidelines
Ensure your stove is cleaned appropriately. Wood burns best on a small amount of ash. You should not need to clean out your wood-burning stove daily but this of course depends on how much wood you burn and the efficiency of your stove/flue. Sold fuels need a good air supply from underneath which means that all ash should be removed from the grate before you light your stove.
Open all air vents and add dry crumpled up newspaper in the centre of the bottom of the stove (between 4 and 8 sheets). Some people prefer to add a firelighter first however this should not be required. Then add some kindling (small pieces of dry soft wood which have not been treated). These should be placed in a criss-cross/wigwam design so the air can circulate.
Light the newspaper using extra-long matches. Close the stove door and leave the air vents open. Some manufactures recommend that you leave the door slightly open at this stage. Leave this for a few minutes until the kindling is burning.
Add some small logs, again in a criss-cross design to ensure the constant air flow. Continue to leave the air vents open and allow to burn for around 5 minutes until the logs are burning well. If you have the door slightly open you should now close it.
Now spread the wood around evenly and add a couple of larger logs or smokeless fuel (if using a multi-fuel stove) and leave for another 5 minutes or so. If you have a temperature gauge (we will have supplied you with one if we installed your stove, if you don’t have one we highly recommend you buy one, we can supply these) allow your stove to reach best temperature.
It is now time to close the bottom vent and shut down the top vent until you get nice rolling flames. You should not need to put more fuel on your stove for another couple of hours.
The above are guidelines only and once you get used to lighting your stove you will figure out what works best for you.
Please ensure you use well-seasoned logs, 20% or less moisture content.
You should not operate the stove with the door open as this will affect the efficiency and can release harmful gasses into your room.