Wood fires, stoves, and burners have been keeping humans warm and fed for millennia. However, suddenly they’re getting a bad press and being blamed for a significant amount of air pollution. While it is true that some people’s wood-burning habits have a detrimental effect, not all wood burning is equal. Here’s how you can enjoy a toasty open fire – without damaging the environment.
Choosing your wood
The type of wood that you burn will impact the environment in several ways. First, there’s deforestation. If you are burning wood that has been chopped down specifically for the purpose and not as part of a reforestation programme, then you need to change your habits. It is likely that most people in the UK use wood from a log supplier, but check their practices if you are concerned and want to reduce your carbon footprint. Some wood is even carbon negative. Eco logs are formed from wood chippings and waste wood. They not only burn more efficiently, but they are saving waste from going to landfill, too. However, they do tend to cost more than a load from a local log supplier.
Try to get a mix of hard and soft wood – soft to get your fire going, and hard to burn longer.
Seasoning your wood
Once you have ensured that your wood is responsibly sourced, you need to make sure that it is completely dried. Wood can’t just be chopped and burnt, it needs to season, or dry, for at least a year. The image of a log crackling on the fire is actually deceptive – your fire should NOT crackle! The crackle is a sign that there is excess moisture in the log which means that not only will the wood burn less efficiently, but it is bad for the environment. If you are unsure about the quality of the wood that you have been using, check with your chimney sweep when they visit; they can tell the quality of wood by the consistency and levels of soot up your chimney.
Collecting wood from the beach or even burning waste wood from your garden may make you feel like Bear Grills, but it is actually dangerous to your health, your home and the environment. Treated wood and salt-water soaked wood will release poisonous chemicals into your home and cause a flammable layer to build up within your chimney. So, unless you have your own wood which you have chopped and seasoned for a year, don’t be tempted to supply your own.
As with most products, the more local, the better for the environment. Every mile less that your load of logs has travelled means a smaller carbon footprint for you. So, shop around, ask friends, check out our directory of log suppliers or ask your chimney sweep for a recommendation.