The preferred wood for a stove is wood from hardwood trees i.e. Ash, Beech, Birch, Blackthorn, Elm, Eucalyptus, Hawthorn, Hazel, Hornbeam, Maple, Oak, Rowan, Sycamore, Wild Cherry, Willow, Alder, Apple, and Pear.
Hardwoods are from slow-growing deciduous trees & the logs have a greater density than softwoods which are from evergreen trees i.e. pines/firs/spruces. Hardwood logs give a greater heat output – up to 50% compared to softwoods.
Different varieties of hardwood have different attributes – Oak, Beech, Ash, Birch, and Elm give the best heat output, fruit trees also provide a good heat output.
For optimal performance, wood should be as dry as possible (moisture content 20% or less); damp wood uses heat to evaporate the water in the wood, producing less heat from the fire and more condensates in the chimney.
Kiln-dried logs are dried in an oven; the kiln drying process removes most of the water from the wood resulting in logs with a moisture content of below 20%.
Burning kiln dried logs will ensure your stove glass is kept clean and will prevent a build-up of soot or tar in your chimney or flue. Additionally, because kiln-dried wood gives a much higher heat output, you will burn fewer logs than if you were using seasoned logs – giving you great value for money.
Dry wood produces more heat than wet wood because the energy that would otherwise be released into your living room is instead being used to evaporate the water contained in the log. This means that if you reduce the water content of your log by half, you nearly double the amount of heat produced by the log.
The Woodsure Ready to Burn initiative is a Government backed scheme which indicates to consumers that the firewood they are buying is suitable for immediate use i.e. ready to burn.
For more details on the scheme visit woodsure.co.uk/firewood-ready-burn(opens in a new browser window)
Wood needs to be “seasoned” before burning so that energy isn’t used to dry the wood out during combustion. Wet wood produces less heat but more importantly, it causes tar deposits in the chimney.
Wood should be “seasoned” outdoors for at least 18 to 24 months. Wood should be stored off the ground with plenty of space between the logs to allow air movement & with the top covered to keep rain & snow off the wood.
As a guide, wood which is well seasoned makes a distinctive ‘clack’ rather than a dull ‘thud’ when banged together. Other indicators of a seasoned log include the bark cracking and peeling and splitting of the wood across the grain.
Seasoned wood gives approximately 50% more heat output than the equivalent volume of unseasoned wood, this means fewer logs to provide warmth & a reduction in the number of condensates/tar inside the stove and chimney. Condensates are a leading cause of chimney fires.
We personally recommend the use of kiln-dried wood. Kiln-dried logs are dried to an average moisture content of less than 20% and are recommended for immediate burning on all wood-burning appliances. These logs provide the ultimate clean burn with maximum heat output.
If you are local to us, “Dead Good Wood” provides bulk loads of very dry seasoned wood.
The Forestry Commission has a free guide to choosing & drying logs (PDF format), for a copy click here (opens in a new window) and the Solid Fuel Association has a guide to Wood and Multi-Fuel wood here (opens in a new window).