Are you using the right fuel for your wood-burning stove?

In theory using a wood-burning stove is relatively simple as you install the stove, buy the wood and burn it. There are obviously very detailed instructions how to get the best out of your wood-burning stove but many people fail to consider whether they are using the right type of fuel. So, how does using the right type of fuel help to maximise efficiency?

 

Dry wood is more efficient

When you consider the fact that wet wood is very difficult to burn it makes sense that dry wood is more efficient when it comes to a wood-burning stove. Unfortunately, some people fail to grasp this concept instead looking towards wet wood which can be significantly cheaper but on the whole is far less efficient. Indeed there are a number of potential issues if you do use wet wood which include:-

 

Corrosion of your flue lining

If you burn wet wood you will notice a tar like substance forming within your stove which will also congregate within your chimney. Over time this tar like substance can corrode the lining of your flue which is not only dangerous but expensive to replace.

 

Potential chimney fires

It has also been demonstrated that the tar created when burning wet wood can also lead to chimney fires. Those who have experienced chimney fires will be well aware they are potentially dangerous and often very difficult to control.

 

More expensive in the long run

Due to the low efficiency of wet wood compared to dry wood, even the fact that dry wood is more expensive does not deflect from the greater cost going forward. In many ways buying and burning wet wood is a false economy but unfortunately one which too many people have bought into.

There is an array of simple moisture meters available today which will allow you to measure the moisture content of any fuel for your stove. These are especially popular with those who are able to buy “green wood” (wood which has not yet been dried) in bulk and leave it to dry out over the years. If you have storage facilities available and funds to hand then bulk buying this type of fuel can prove beneficial from a cost point of view in the longer term.

 

The density of wood fuel

In simple terms hardwood burns much longer than softwood and is therefore more efficient when it comes to wood-burning stoves. The heating value connected with any type of wood is directly related to the weight and the density. Therefore, even though hardwood can be significantly more expensive than softwood, in the longer term there are significant cost savings to be had. Again, this is something which is common sense but when stove owners consider the cost of their stove fuel it can be tempting to go for the cheaper option. Even if this option is more expensive in the longer term!

 

Contamination of your wood fuel

The chances are if you acquire any wood which has been used for a different purpose in years gone by it will contain some kind of contamination. While it is very tempting to burn old skirting boards, old doors and other general waste which is readily available, contamination can be a massive issue. Quite simply any contaminated wood will see a massive reduction in efficiency whether it is contaminated with paint, varnish or some other kind of product. This is before you even begin to look at the potential threat to your health due to potentially harmful fumes escaping into the atmosphere when the material is burned.

Under no circumstances should you use contaminated wood fuel for your wood-burning stove because while it may be cheap there could be potentially fatal consequences.

 

Conclusion

While much of the information we have highlighted above is simple and straightforward unfortunately not everybody follows these guidelines. The problem is that a continuous flow of wood fuel can be expensive and people will obviously look to reduce this expense going forward. However, from efficiency and a potential health point of view it is a false economy to burn wet wood or contaminated wood. To get the best out of your wood-burning stove you need to ensure you use the best fuel available. Only then will you feel the real benefits!

This article was written by Mark Benson who works for www.bowlandstoves.co.uk. The company offers an array of wood burning and multi-fuel stoves together with spares and accessories.

 

By Mark Benson

 

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