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Looking longingly at your wood-burning stove? Now that September has rolled around, you’ve probably started considering putting the heating on again. Especially if, like us, you are based in sunny Scotland!
If you haven’t already done so, it is definitely time to get a winter supply of wood ready. In this article, we’re going to lay down what you need to consider when selecting your winter fuel, with a little help from our sister company, Clydesdale Logs.
We’ll talk a bit about the regulation of firewood, the moisture content and wood density of energy-efficient firewood.
Let’s explore how to choose the best fuel for your wood-burning stove.
In general, the firewood industry is surprisingly unregulated. Unless you know exactly what type of logs you’re buying, and you’ve measured the water content of the wood yourself, it can be difficult to know exactly how much you’re getting for your money.
For example, let’s say you’re buying two bags of wood the same weight. That isn’t to say that one doesn’t contain a high proportion of water and low-density wood, making it a far less effective burn than another bag which seems to be the same size.
Regulatory bodies for firewood do exist, it just isn’t mandatory to be regulated before selling firewood. To make sure that you are getting the best value for your money, go for a seller who is accredited.
Clydesdale Logs are a certified Woodsure supplier. Woodsure are the UK’s only quality assurance scheme for woodfuel. In accordance with their requirements, Clydesdale’s firewood is tested at every stage of production. This ensures that the moisture content and density are the correct standard for high quality firewood, making it perfect for use in your wood-burning stove.
You can read more about Woodsure and their requirements here.
Now let’s get started with a brief intro to moisture content and wood density!
When a tree is first felled, it can be over 50% water. The moisture content of a piece of wood will affect its burn time and efficiency. Burning wet wood is very difficult, it requires a much higher temperature and you will get less heat for your efforts.
In order to maintain efficiency, most stove manufacturers recommend using logs with a moisture content of less than 25%. Any more than that will cause havoc with stove, chimney and environment.
Why? Well, the moisture will rust metalwork, cause soot in the chimney and it makes the wood harder to burn. Therefore, one damp log will not be as energy-efficient as a dry one, resulting in far more environmental damage to keep up with the under-efficient burning.
If you buy green wood, which has not been dried, then expect to wait at least a year for the wood to dry out naturally. This is called seasoning. It will also depend on the climate you are seasoning the wood in. In rainy, damp Scotland, for example, wood will take longer to dry than in the south of France.
For more information on seasoning wood, check out our recent post all about storing your firewood here.
Clydesdale’s kiln-dried firewood has been kilned for 40 hours, with the aim to get the moisture levels down to 10%. That’s well below the standard recommendation of maximum moisture content of 25% for firewood.
The other important measurement to bear in mind when selecting your wood is the density. A softwood might be cheaper, but it will burn faster. For this reason, Clydesdale only sell hardwood which has been kiln-dried to ensure minimal moisture content and a great burn.
In the UK, a hardwood mix will typically contain oak, ash, elm, sycamore, beech and more. These trees are deciduous and they take longer to grow, so the wood has time to become more dense.
Softwoods are typically conifers such as spruce, fir, larch and pine. These trees grow quickly so they are usually cheaper. Be aware, however, that these trees contain naturally occurring resin which can spit. This means they are fine for stoves, but be careful with open fires.
There are a few different options when you’re shopping for firewood, so we’ve listed all the different log and firewood options available at Clydesdale Logs below. Hopefully, this will help you decide which product best suits your needs and your wood-burning stove.
These are the most straightforward option, especially if you have a small stove to fit your fuel into. Briquettes are cheaper than seasoned logs, and produce minimal levels of ash. They are small anyway, but brittle enough to be snapped even tinier if your stove requires it. As such, they are also easier to store than logs, and will take up less space.
Our briquettes have a moisture content of less than 10%, so they will burn cleanly without unnecessary smoke. They are made of the leftover scraps of wood which would typically be wasted – making them a sustainable choice.
Hardwood, as we mentioned before, has a higher density than softwood so it will burn for longer. This means it is our top pick for quality firewood.
We source most of our wood locally, from the forests of Cumbernauld, and even use horses in the felling process – the environmentally-friendly choice as they don’t cause petrol fumes!
All of the woodland we source from is sustainably managed and responsibly used.
Our hardwood is sold in three sizes of bags, and we can deliver nationwide. We check the moisture content at every stage, and only wood with a surface moisture content of less than 12% will make it into the bags.
These are small pieces of softwood, designed to get your fire started. Light them and tuck them into your fireplace or stove – they will catch far easier than logs.
Waxlings are our own version of a conventional firelighter, minus the smell and the chemicals. The only thing to be found in our waxlings is wood wool, which has been soaked in clean candle wax. It is 100% combustible and will burn for ten minutes, allowing the heat to quickly reach maximum and start cooking up your carefully selected fuel.