Knowledge Base

Our knowledge base offers advice, help and answers to those commonly asked questions such as 'How do I install a wood burning stove?' or 'What's the difference between a wood burner and a multifuel stove?' as well as offering useful tips on using a stove and stove maintenance.

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Knowledge Base » Fuels for Stoves

1. Wood

Wood is the most commonly used fuel on open fires or stoves and rightly so.
Burning wood does release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, however the amount of carbon dioxide released is approximately the same as the amount absorbed by the tree during growth. Therefore wood is widely accepted as a carbon neutral fuel. Wood fuel is available in many forms: Logs, Pellets, woodchips, heat logs and wood briquettes. With conventional energy prices increasing wood has become an even more attractive fuel for heating.

Wood can be divided into two major classes, hardwood and softwood. Measured by weight, hardwoods and softwoods have similar energy contents (around 20MJ/kg dry) however Hardwoods are typically twice as dense as softwoods as they are slower growing, so you would require less hardwood to produce the same heat output as softwood.

The most important factor when using wood as a fuel is that it has a low moisture content (MC). Freshly harvested wood can contain as much as 80% depending on the species and the time of year it was felled. As the wood moisture level increases, its useful energy content decreases. At 60% MC wood can have an energy content of 6MJ/kg but at 25% MC this can increase to 14MJ/kG. Burning wet wood produces excess steam and excess smoke which is a sign of incomplete combustion, this increases the build up of tars in the chimney which enhances the risk of chimney fires and reduces the efficiency of the chimney.
To obtain maximum efficiency from your stove using the minimum amount of fuel only burn wood with a moisture content of 20% or less. The use os a moisture meter is the best way to monitor this. (quick find no.SMO2535).

Removing the water from the wood is known as seasoning. This term suggests a period of time, and for natural air drying up to two to three years is recommended. We offer a selection of log stores for this purpose, please contact us for details.

Firebox Stoves does NOT recomend the use of pallet's or any treated / painted wood. The use of wood composites for example Plywood, chipboard, MDF etc. should be avoided & could prove VERY DANGEROUS.

Good Wood Guide;

A Quick Reference Guide to Explain What Woods Are Good to Burn and Their Qualities.

Alder: Poor heat output and short lasting. A low quality firewood. Produces a charcoal that burns steady.

Apple: Great fuel that burns slow and steady when dry, with little flame, sparking or spitting. It has a nice scent. Great for cooking.

Ash: Considered one of the best burning woods with a steady flame and good heat output. Easy to saw and split.

Beech: Similar to ash, but only burns fair when mildly wet. It may shoot embers out a long way. Is easy to chop.

Birch: This has good heat output but burns quickly. The smell is also pleasant. It will burn unseasoned. Can cause gum deposits in chimney if used a lot. Rolled up pitch from bark makes a good firestarter and can be peeled from trees without damaging them.

Blackthorn: Burns slowly, with lots of heat and little smoke.

Cedar: This is a great wood that puts out a lot of lasting of heat. It produces a small flame, a nice scent, and lots of crackle and pop. Great splitting wood. Good for cooking.

Cherry: A slow burning wood with good heat output. Has a nice scent. Must be seasoned well. Slow to start.

Chestnut: A mediocre fuel that produces a small flame and weak heat output. It also shoots out ambers.

Douglas Fir: A poor fuel that produces little flame or heat.

Elder: A mediocre fuel that burns quickly without much heat output. Tends to give off a thick (Apparently poisonous!!!) smoke. Probably best avoided.

Elm: A variable fuel, can be subject to dutch elms disease. ( Usually has high water content. May smoke violently and should be dried for two years for best results. You may need faster burning wood to get elm going. A large log set on the fire before bed will burn through the night. Splitting can be difficult and should be done early on.

Eucalyptus: A fast burning wood with a pleasant smell and no spitting. It is full of sap and oils when fresh and can start a chimney fire if burned unseasoned. The stringy wood fibre may be hard to split and one option is to slice it into rings and allow to season and self split. The gum from the tree produces a fresh medicinal smell. Not be the best for cooking with.

Hawthorn: Good firewood. Burns hot and slow. Traditionally gathered as bundles or 'faggots' (yeh really...) for burning in winter.

Hazel: An excellent fast burning fuel but tends to burn up a bit faster than most other hard woods. Allow to season.

Holly: A good firewood that will burn when green, but best if dried a year. It is fast burning with a bright flame but little heat.

Hornbeam: Burns almost as good as beech with a hot slow burning fire.

Horse Chestnut: A low quality firewood with a good flame and heating power but spits a lot.

Laburnum: Completely poisonous tree with acrid smoke that taints food and is best never used.

Larch: Crackly, scented, and fairly good for heat. It needs to be seasoned well and forms oily soot in chimneys.

Laurel: Produces a brilliant flame.

Lilac: Thinner branches make good kindling, whilst the thicker burn well with a clear flame and a very pleasant smell

Lime: A poor quality fuel with dull flame. Good for carving but a massive waste to burn it.

Maple: A good all round firewood.

Oak: Oak has a sparse flame and the smoke is acrid if not seasoned for two years after WINTER FELLING. Summer felled Oak takes YEARS to season well. Dry old oak is excellent for heat, burning slowly and steadily until whole log collapses into cigar-like ash.

Pear: Burns with good heat, good scent and no spitting. Needs to be seasoned well.

Pine: (Most Species) Burns with a splendid flame, but is prone to spitting. Needs to be seasoned well but can leave an oily soot in the chimney. Smells great.

Plane: Burns pleasantly, but is prone to throwing sparks if very dry.

Plum: Provides good heat with a nice aromatic sent.

Poplar: A terrible fuel that doesn't burn well and produces a black choking smoke even when seasoned. A DEFFINATE NO GO!

Rowan: A good firewood that burns hot and slow.

Rhododendron: Old thick and tough stems burn well.

Robinia (Acacia): Burns slowly, with good heat, but with acrid smoke. Not a problem in a stove!

Spruce: A poor firewood that burns too quickly and with too many sparks.

Sycamore: Burns with a good flame, moderate heat. Useless green.

Sweet Chestnut: Burns when seasoned but tends to spits continuously and excessively.

Thorn: One of the best firewood’s. Burns slowly, with great heat and little smoke.

Walnut: Low to good value to burning. Leaves a nice aromatic scent.

Wellingtonia (Giant Sequoia): Poor for use as a firewood.

Willow: A poor fire wood that must be dry to use. Even when seasoned, it burns slowly, with little flame. Prone to spitting.

Yew: This burns slowly, with fierce heat. Gives off a strong pleasant aroma.