Secret Shopper Survey Reveals Wood Fuel Problems

A recent three-week secret shopper survey conducted by Woodfuel Wales, part of the Wales Forest Business Partnership, found that almost half of the firewood logs sold at shops and garages were loaded with moisture.

The survey’s findings showed up to 40% of the logs bought from convenience stores and garage forecourts were too wet to burn efficiently in a log stove or open fire. The moisture content of the purchased logs ranged from 16% to 45%. A moisture content of less than 25% is needed to get a clean, hot efficient burn within a stove or open fire. A moisture content any higher means that the heat energy released from the wood is used to dry the wet wood rather than heat the room. Burning wet or unseasoned wood also leads to the formation of highly flammable creosotes in the flue or chimney and can damage stoves and boilers.

Almost half of the firewood logs sold at shops and garages were loaded with moisture.

The survey also highlighted huge price differentials with prices ranging from 19p per kg to £1.07 per kg. The lack of standardisation in packaging and poor labelling further confused shoppers as forecourt nets often contained different quantities of logs.  The problems of poor labelling also meant the consumer rarely know whether they were buying hard or soft wood logs.

Woodfuel Wales is now launching a campaign to help make wood fuel users more aware of the importance of good quality logs.It fears that poor quality logs could damage the credibility of a sector which could boost the rural economy and bring neglected woodlands back into management.


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