Top Wood Burning Myths

Top Wood Burning Myths

How much do you think you know about wood burning? Are you up to speed on the latest laws or haven’t a clue? This article aims to set a few facts straight We want to address the misconceptions that paint wood-burners in a bad light or lead to bad wood-burning practises, because we can all do better when armed with the correct information... 

Myth 1: Firewood Produces Too Much Smoke

If your firewood is seasoned or kiln dried, this shouldn’t be the case. Wet/green logs do produce lots of smoke and burn ineffectively, which is why sales of wet wood in volumes under 2m3 were banned in 2021 to tackle UK domestic burning emissions. Firewood suppliers must now be certified through Woodsure to sell “Ready to Burn”firewood with moisture levels below 20% for a cleaner, more efficient burn. Alternatively, they can sell logs in larger volumes that come with the correct drying instructions.  


How well do you store your firewood or light your fire? Storing logs away from moisture and keeping them ventilated prevents moisture or mould from getting to the logs so that they burn cleanly and preserve their quality no matter how long they’re stored. And if you’re overloading your wood burner or not using dry kindling to start the process, your firewood is bound to smoulder rather than fiercely burn!  

Myth 2: Wood Burners Are Inefficient And Cause The Most Particulate Emissions In The UK

DEFRA's 2019 study on UK emissions incorrectly stated that wood burners caused 38% of emissions in the UK. Updated figures from the 2020 study show that this figure accounts for ALL wood burning practices under domestic combustion, including outdoor burning and open fires. The correct statistic for total PM2.5 emissions from wood burners is in fact 17%. While this figure can still be improved, this shows wood burners have a smaller contribution than previously thought. 


New Ecodesign regulations enforced in January 2022 ensure new stoves meet the minimum efficiency requirement and maximum emissions of particulate matter and gases to reduce air pollution and improve the energy output from stoves. Modern Ecodesign stoves emit up to 90% less emissions than an open fire. The Clear Skies mark on appliances tells you whether stoves meet Ecodesign regulations, and different numbers indicate their level of efficiency or if they are DEFRA exempt. See more here: www.clearskiesmark.org/about-us/certification-system-explained/ 

Myth 3: Burning Wood Is Unsustainable

Unlike coal, gas and oil, wood is a renewable source of energy and materials. Trees naturally repopulate during their life cycle, while regrowth is encouraged further through sustainable forest management where more trees are planted in place of the felled trees. Although wood is renewable, there have been many debates around labelling wood as “sustainable” or “carbon neutral” due to large scale uncurbed use, which can soon cause renewable forms of energy to become unsustainable.  


However, provided that forests are responsibly managed, burning wood can be regarded as carbon neutral. Due to the process of biological carbon sequestration, trees and other vegetation capture Co2 from the atmosphere and store it over thousands of years. They will then release the same amount of Co2 when they decompose or are burned. For this to work most effectively, giving trees a longer lifespan to absorb more Co2 before felling them is key.  

Myth 4: Burning Wood Is Expensive

Oil - Retail | Gas - Wholesale Electricity - Wholesale Bagged Pellet - WHE Retail KD Firewood - WHE Retail

On the contrary, burning firewood seems to be a preferable alternative to increased heating bills in the cost-of-living crisis, which went up by 54% in April 2022. Many people turned to their wood burners to reduce their reliance on central heating. While the initial cost of installing a wood burner is expensive, you will make this money back after several wood burning seasons and save money by using central heating less often. Ecodesign stoves stretch your pennies further too, by using less logs and wasting less heat. 


Unlike gas, oil and electricity, the cost of wood fuels has remained similar throughout the energy crisis. White Horse Energy has plotted data comparing our firewood and pellet prices to other major forms of energy for domestic heating over a weekly basis, for the most accurate visualisation. firewood costs range between £55.35 and £70.18 per MwH, while the costs of other energy types have fluctuated between £4.45 - £147.52 MwH (Gas), £23.39 - £139.13 MwH (Oil), and £26.10 - £397.00 (Electricity) MwH. 

Myth 5: The Longer Your Wood Is Seasoned The Better

While it’s true that the longer your season your wood the dryer it becomes, you can risk burning wood too quickly if the moisture levels are below 10%. Anything between 10 – 20% is the optimal moisture content for firewood. We recommend storing your logs with shelter from rain and away from any sources of moisture, but also with plenty of air circulation to maintain their quality.  

Myth 6: I Don’t Need To Hire A Chimney Sweep.  

If you’re planning to use your chimney after a long hiatus, you MUST get it checked over and swept professionally before lighting anything in there. Even for infrequent users, it’s necessary to get the chimney swept once a year. Regular maintenance means sweeps can inspect for any structural damage or creosote build-up that could cause problems – and more expenses – further down the line if left unchecked. Alongside this, don’t forget to clean out the stove and remove any excess ash after each use. Read more on this in www.whitehorseenergy.co.uk/news/september-2021/wood-burner-maintenance 

Myth 7: Green, Seasoned Or Kilned - It All Burns The Same

The burning properties of kiln dried logs are much different to seasoned, let alone green firewood. Kiln drying is a controlled process that allows large amounts of firewood to dry out quicker and in consistent conditions (such as air moisture, temperature and airflow). This way, suppliers can easily reach the optimum moisture levels for firewood, which is between 10 and 20%. The lower the moisture content, the better quality and more efficient the firewood will be. It's easier to light, burns longer, and gives off more heat all while creating less ash and creosote. While seasoned logs can reach these moisture levels, this requires drying them for much longer and during warmer/dryer weather and most of the time reaches levels around 25%. 

Myth 8: You Can Use Any Paper Or Wood To Start Your Fire

Choosing the right firelighter and kindling is as integral to the fire building process as choosing the right logs. Many people use newspaper, small twigs and other bits of wood waste without checking if it's suitable to do so. These materials can hinder the fire lighting process – newspaper creates excessive amounts of ash and burns too quickly, while any old deadwood from outside might not be suitable if it contains sap or moisture. Additionally, burning glossy magazine paper or chemically treated wood will release the toxins in the chemicals or ink. 


Incredibly low moisture levels and low density is needed for wood to be flammable enough to create heat and flames quickly, so the best materials are kilned offcuts, smaller twigs and shredded wood for natural firelighters. Our Ecoblaze Natural Firelighters create a fuss free and safe fire lighting experience, while burning much steadier and longer than your old newspapers will.  

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