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What Wood to Burn
At The Stove Yard all of our staff have many years of experience burning wood in a wide range of live stoves in our Cheshire and County Down showrooms, and as wood burning stove owners ourselves we've outlined below what we believe is the best way to get the most from your stove and your wood log fuel. So let's start with the type of wood logs...
The best wood for burning in stoves...
Hardwoods are generally better for burning in wood burning stoves than softwoods. As a rule of thumb hardwoods are produced by slow-growing deciduous trees (those trees that loose their leaves) and therefore the logs have a greater density than the faster growing softwoods from evergreen trees. Since hardwood logs are heavier than the same sized softwood log they will provide you with much more heat output – up to 50%. For the stove owner, using hardwood logs means having to fill the stove up less often than they would with softwood logs.
Only ever use dried, fully seasoned chopped wood logs with a moisture content of less than 20%. As a rule of thumb, wood which is well seasoned makes a distinctive ‘clack’ rather than a dull ‘thud’ when knocked together. It will also feel much lighter than an unseasoned log. Other indicators of a seasoned log include the bark peeling away and cracking and splitting of the wood around the outside. Ideally wood should be seasoned outdoors for between 18 to 24 months – the harder the wood then the longer the seasoning. It should be stacked off the ground with plenty of space between the logs to allow air movement and with the top covered to keep rain and snow out. It is said that seasoned wood will give you approximately 50% more heat output than the equivalent unseasoned log so that alone makes it very worthwhile.
A moisture meter specially designed for testing wood logs is highly recommended and a small investment which will pay for itself over and over again.
Most types of hardwood, for instance Ash (generally regarded as the best), Birch, Beech, Oak and Elm can be used. However, avoid burning woods with a high resin content. As a rule of thumb, the heavier the wood, then the greater the heat output and the longer burn time – the time between refills.
Here's a quick guide to the most common types of wood logs you might come across and those that you may have growing in your garden:
Alder Produces little heat and burns quickly.
Never use wet or unseasoned (green) wood as this will cause nuisance smoke and a very disappointing fire. It could quickly result in the build up of soot and creosote which, because of the higher temperatures of stove flue gases, could easily cause a flue or chimney fire. In addition, burning wet wood creates other environmental problems, a less efficient fuel economy and can eventually quickly clog your flue system and cowl. We've know a clogged cowl happen within 6 to 8 weeks and if we hadn't seen it with our own eyes we would have found it hard to believe. Burning wet or unseasoned wood will also reduce the effectiveness of the stove’s Airwash system thus causing staining and blackening of the glass.
Wet or unseasoned would produces the following poor performance: