A customer's tale: The true cost of burning wet wood

We sometimes hear stories from our customers, who have tried to save themselves a few pennies by collecting their own firewood from the local woods, or buying it cheap off the back of a lorry. But the truth is that burning wet firewood is a false economy and will cost you more in the long term. Instead, we recommend only burning kiln dried firewood for the following reasons:

  • Greater heat output than wet wood
  • Greatly reduced emissions and improved air quality compared to burning wet wood (see graph below)
  • Better for your appliance – the stove glass will not blacken and soot will not build up as quickly in your chimney
  • Better value than seasoned and unseasoned wood (wet wood)
  • Ready to Burn - no need to store and wait years for them to dry

Take a look at the following example. Our new customer John certainly agrees...

The 2017/18 UK winter was the coldest in years and served as a reminder that the need to warm your home is more important than ever. If you have a multi-fuel stove and love burning firewood, it’s tempting to try and save yourself a few pennies by collecting your own wood fuel from local woodlands and park.  

Take one of our new customers, John. Having recently bought a brand new multi-fuel stove, John indulged in a spot of foraging and went collecting freshly fallen branches for firewood (known as ‘non seasoned wood’ or ‘wet wood’). Unfortunately this is where things started to go wrong. A few weeks of attempting to burn the wet wood proved a disappointing experience for John with his stove taking ages to light due to the high moisture content of the wood he collected.

Because the wet wood is such a low quality firewood (with a moisture content of between 45% and 80%), it gives off very little heat, burns very slowly and may even go out as it is so wet. It gives off less heat because the energy is used up driving off the water in the wood, resulting in steam and a dismal spitting fire with very little heat output.

To sustain any heat at all John was constantly refuelling the fire and was soon running out of stock. As well as poor heating performance, the wet wood’s burning inefficiencies result in more emissions, smoke and pollutants into the atmosphere, negating the benefits to the environment. These emissions contain tar, soot and highly flammable creosote which can also clog up a chimney or flue leading to more calls to the chimney sweep.

John gave up eventually but if he’d persisted burning the wet wood, the build up of highly flammable creosote would have severely damaged his flue liner and in the worse case scenario resulted in a chimney fire. John could have seasoned his wood to dry it out first, but this can take months, if not years, depending on the species of wood.

If you love burning firewood and want to burn it straight away, there’s a very straightforward way to avoid these problems. We would strongly recommend that you only use CPL’s range of Homefire Kiln Dried Logs which are certified as Ready to Burn by Woodsure and approved by The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

This means moisture content is 20% or below so they burn hotter, at a higher temperature, and as the names suggests can be burnt straight away with no additional drying time. The higher temperature makes kiln dried wood considerably more efficient and economical to burn, as well as helping to prolong the life of your appliance. Kiln dried firewood is also more environmentally friendly as the burning of such dry wood emits much less fine particulate matter into the atmosphere. Any sap or water remaining in kiln dried wood is burnt off, preventing it from building up inside your appliance as tar.

As a new customer, John is now buying Homefire Kiln Dried Logs and enjoys a warm, crackling log fire every night.

Remember, if you love burning firewood buy Ready to Burn kiln dried hardwood logs. 

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