How to burn wood

We want to sell you as little firewood as possible. As more people burn wood as a fuel to heat their homes and their hearts, there is more pressure on existing firewood resources. A lot of logs you can buy in Calderdale are imported from Scotland. Firewood is even imported to the UK from mainland Europe. Clearly this is both ridiculous and inefficient.

Coppicing our local woodlands has the effect of increasing the amount of firewood available and then maintaining that supply indefinitely, which will help keep up with the demand. However, if we use as little firewood as possible then everybody wins – fuel costs go down and there is more wood to go around. That means burning it efficiently.

How do I burn wood efficiently?

- Only burn seasoned wood. Dry logs give more heat energy and are better for your stove. All firewood delivered by Blackbark has been air seasoned for at least one year. Logs should be stored in a dry place where air can circulate. Having a small store of logs inside the house or even next to the stove will help to reduce the moisture content even further.

- Ensure the fire has a good supply of air. If flames are slow and intermittent, or the fire is very smoky and blackens the stove glass, then there is not enough air getting to the wood.

- Supply air from the top. Light the stove with both top and bottom air vents open. Once the fire is going well, close the bottom vent and control air flow with the top vent only.

- Choose an efficient stove. A lot of modern stoves burn wood extremely efficiently and also reduce particulate emissions, allowing the burning of wood within smoke control areas. DEFRA has supplied a list of approved stoves.

What is a Smoke Control area?

Under the Clean Air Act 1993, it is an offence to emit smoke from a domestic chimney in a smoke control area, unless you are using an authorised fuel (firewood is not an authorised fuel) or an authorised (exempted) fireplace.

You can find out more about the Clean Air Act 1993 and smoke control areas at the Calderdale MBC website. They also provide a map of smoke control areas and a way of checking if your house is within those areas.

Exempted fireplaces are approved by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). A list of approved stoves can be found here.

More resources

There are a number of good guides on the internet about burning firewood efficiently and choosing the right stove. Here are some links – if you find other useful pages please let us know and we can add them to this list.

- Cumbria Woodlands website has an excellent wood fuel resources section, for both producers and users. In particular they have a very informative publication about choosing the wood fuel heating systems, Warmth From Wood.

- The Log Pile: promoting wood fuel in the UK

- The Centre for Alternative Technology has extensive information about biomass heating systems and how to burn wood.

- Forestry Commission publication ‘Wood as fuel: a guide to choosing and drying logs’.

How do I join?

Simply print out this form, fill it out and send it to us along with a cheque. In the near future it will be possible to join online. Until then, please bear with the snail mail.

If you have any questions at all, please email firebox@blackbark.co.uk or call Jacques on 07815 905382.