Wood fuel is a cost-effective, sustainable and renewable energy source that is growing in popularity as we begin to take more care over how our energy consumption affects the world we live in. To learn more about why we should use it and how to go about it, read on...
Why use wood fuel?
Pre-industrial revolution, wood fuel was used almost exclusively, until it became replaced by coal, gas and oil. Unlike fossil fuels, wood is a sustainable resource, and when grown and distributed responsibly effects far less damage to the environment than the alternatives – think of all those gas canisters filling up landfills….
Foresting for wood fuel has positive side effects for our environment; benefits include increased biodiversity and reduced CO2 emissions. The Forestry Commission says that:
As trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), incorporating the carbon into new growth and returning oxygen to the atmosphere. When the wood is burned this carbon is oxidised and released as CO2. As a result, using wood from sustainably managed trees reduces net CO2 production (small amounts are released by the activities of processing and transportation) compared to using fossil fuels. This means that heating using wood can significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while also reducing our CO2 emissions.
Woodfuel is great for off-grid living; it means you’re completely independent of energy grids and when burned properly it’s amazing how little wood you need to cook and heat your home. When using a woodburning stove like our Traveller or Frontier (or our Horizon, which as a rocket stove is super fuel efficient - and you don’t need to worry about seasoned wood!) you are using the fuel as efficiently as possible; woodburners are up to 80% more efficient than an open fire.
Choosing your wood
There are three things to consider when choosing wood for your log burner: moisture content, resin content and wood density. These three factors all have an effect on the amount of heat you will get from your logs, and so on the efficiency of your burn. Considering these factors will help you to get the most out of the logs you buy and prevent waste of resources – and your money!
The moisture content, density and presence of other substances in the wood (treatment chemicals or resin) also have an effect on the frequency that you will need to clean your flue. Burning treated or resinous woods with a high moisture content will mean that you need to clean your flue out regularly, or you will find you start to have problems with smoke and the draw on the stove. If you burn only good-quality seasoned, dry wood, your flue will require cleaning much less frequently.
Seasoned wood also has a reduced creosote output when burned. Creosote is a harmful substance
Cutting your own wood
Buying good-quality seasoned logs can be expensive, so another option is to find your own! This is a little more time consuming and requires some forward planning, but is really rewarding – in the end, any time spent outside in the woods is time well spent!
In cutting your own wood you reduce the impact of your fuel consumption even further; there is less wastage from packaging, transport and production.
Cut logs need to be stored for about two years to become fully seasoned. Splitting them into logs will speed up the process, as more of the wood is exposed to the air. Ash, hawthorne, yew, beech and oak are all good, dense hardwoods that work well for firewood.
Storing your wood
Whether you’ve cut your own or bought ready-seasoned logs, the way you store your wood is key to keeping it nice and dry.
If you’re seasoning your own, a dry shed with lots of space for air to circulate is the best option. Try to leave a little space between your wood stack and the walls of your shed to allow for more circulation. Elevating the stack on a pallet or a raised floor will also help.