The popularity of multi-fuel and log burning stoves continues to increase, here are five tips to ensure they operate to maximum efficiency with the wood burning brightly and emitting the maximum amount of heat to warm your home.
Choose Hardwood Logs
Hardwood, from trees that lose their leaves in the autumn, are superior to evergreen softwoods because the timber grows slowly and is more dense. This means that hardwood logs will burn longer, the stove will need to be replenished on fewer occasions, and that heat output will be greater.
Hardwoods also contain less resin and will therefore leave fewer deposits to clog up the stove and flue. Softwood seasons quicker but produces less heat, however you should use softwood kindling to get the fire going as it is quicker to light, hardwood can then be added to create a substantial fire.
Select The Best Hardwood
Ash – thought by most people to be the best source of logs, ash wood is quick to dry and gives out plenty of heat with limited smoke.
Beech – needs a long time to season but then burns as well as ash.
Birch – one of the woods, like apple to have an attractive fragrance, but it has a tendency to burn quickly, so mix with other types.
Hawthorn – emits lots of heat with little smoke, a reliable traditional choice but watch out for the thorns!
Oak – needs to be seasoned for a considerable amount of time, perhaps over two summers, but burns at a slow steady rate with a good flame.
Timber needs to be dried or ‘seasoned’ properly before burning to reduce its moisture content. Moisture content varies with different species and the timber’s density also effects the amount of time it must be seasoned. The aim is to reduce the amount of moisture to below 20% and, depending on the wood, this can take one to two years. You should note however that wood that is excessively dry may produce too much heat and damage the stove.
If you haven’t got a moisture meter, there are several signs that your logs are well seasoned. They should sound hollow when banged together, the logs should be lighter and their colour faded, and the bark should have become loose.
Use A Log Store
You can expect seasoned logs to provide much more heat, produce less smoke and burn far better than wet logs, therefore a good log store is essential. There’s a huge choice of log stores online with different capacities, some purely functional while others will enhance your garden with their contemporary or traditional appearance while performing their primary function.
Lifting the logs off the ground, your store will not only provide the wood with shelter from inclement weather but the slatted sides and base will encourage air to circulate, a vital part of the drying process.
Consider Alternative Logs
There are several alternatives to natural timber logs, for example briquettes are made from wood waste from furniture manufacturers, they are pressure moulded, easy to store and contain no chemical additives. Kiln Dried Logs have had most of their moisture removed when dried and are easy to use. Both of these alternatives are clean to handle and produce an impressive amount of heat.
You should not burn certain materials such as MDF or similar products, or wood that has been painted or varnished. The chemicals used their manufacture may give off noxious fumes and leave unwanted residues.