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Burning Wood

How to Burn Wood in your Woodburning Stove / Woodburner

The most appropriate fuels are seasoned, cleaved hardwoods. Coal is most appropriate when slow burning is required. It is not appropriate to use the following as fuel: wet, tarred, treated or painted wood; sawdust or wood shavings; fine coal, paper or cardboard (except when lighting).

1. Burning Wood.

Wood should be cut, split and then stored under cover with sides open to the air for at least a year. (It takes two years for some hardwoods to season fully.) Store it inside the house for a few days, or in the warm log store for a few hours before it is actually used in the woodburner.

Wood that is too wet will not burn properly and will give off little heat. Heat from the fire will be lost as it is used to evaporate the water vapour from the wood. It will cause excessive pollution and darken the glass.

When refueling, place wood towards the back of the stove where it will burn hotter and more efficiently. Try to place logs length ways so that any spitting from the end grain does not go onto the glass window.

2. Types and Characteristics of Wood

The quality of firewood is based upon various characteristics such as its speed of burn, heat given off, tendency to spark (spit), ease of splitting, time required to season, etc

Grade: 1 = Poor
Grade: 2 = Low
Grade: 3 = Good
Grade: 4 = High

Wood

Characteristics

Grade

Alder

A low quality firewood

1

Apple

Needs to be seasoned well. Burns well with a pleasant smell and without sparking/spitting.

3

Ash

Considered to be one of the best woods for firewood. It has a low water content (approx. 50%) and can be split very easily with an axe. It can be burned green but like all wood is best when seasoned. Burns at a steady rate and not too fast.

4

Beech

Beech has a high water content (approx. 90%) so only burns well when seasoned well.

3

Birch

Birch is an excellent firewood and will burn unseasoned. However, it does burn very fast so is best mixed with slower burning wood such as Elm or Oak.

3-4

Cedar

A good firewood which burns well with a pleasant smell. Gives off a good, lasting heat. Doesn't spit too much and small pieces can be burned unseasoned

2

Cherry

Needs to be seasoned well. Burns well with a pleasant smell and without spitting.

2-3

 

Elm

A good firewood but due to its high water content of approximately 140% (more water than wood!) it must be seasoned very well. It may need assistance from another faster burning wood such as Birch to keep it burning well. However it gives off a good, lasting heat and burns very slowly. Dutch Elm Disease is producing a constant & plentiful supply of small dead hedgerow Elm trees of a small diameter. Larger pieces of wood will prove difficult to split.

 

2-3

Eucalyptus

Allow to season well since the wood is very wet (sappy) when fresh. Can be difficult to split due to stringy wood fibre. Best method is to slice into rings and allow to season during the summer, the rings will start to split themselves. Burns fast with a pleasant smell and without spitting.

2-3

Hawthorn

Good firewood. Burns well

 3-4

Hazel

Excellent firewood. Allow to season. Burns fast but without spitting

 4

Holly

Can be burnt green. A good firewood

 3

Hornbeam

Good firewood. Burns well

 3

Horse Chestnut

A low quality firewood

 2

Larch

Needs to be seasoned well. Spits excessively while it burns and forms an oily soot within chimney's.

 1

Lime

A low quality firewood

 2

Oak

The best firewood. When seasoned well, it gives off a good, lasting heat. Burns reasonably slowly. Very high energy value, approaching that of coal.

 4+

Pear

Needs to be seasoned well. Burns well with a pleasant smell and without spitting.

 3

Pine

Needs to be seasoned well. Spits while it burns and forms an oily soot within chimney's. Very light when dry, with a low calorific value. Burns quickly.

 0

Plane

A usable firewood

 3

Poplar

Considered a poorer firewood (see comments below), but not as bad as sometimes made out to be.

 1

Rowan

Good firewood. Burns well

 3

Spruce

A low quality firewood

 2

 

Sweet Chestnut

 

Burns when seasoned but spits continuously and excessively. Not for use on an open fire and make sure wood-burning stoves have a good door catch

 

 1-2

Sycamore (Maples)

Good firewood. Burns well

 3

Walnut

A low quality firewood

 2

Wellingtonia

Poor for use as a firewood.

 1

Willow

Willow has a high water content so only burns well when seasoned well

 2

Yew

A usable firewood

 2-3