Burning Properties of Different Woods

There are a huge variety of woods out there, all with different burning properties. We get most of the following woods in from time to time. Knowing which woods do what can be invaluable information for your fire. By putting fast burners on first and hard slow burners on when you have a good heat you will make the most of the different types of wood.

Apple
A great burner. Lovely scent and slow burn, although must be well seasoned.
Ash
The best burning wood – Low moisture content means it can be burnt green if necessary. Gets better with age. Perfect after 6 months to a year.
Beech
Nearly as good as Ash, but does not perform as well when green.
Birch
Nice scent and good heat, burns cleanly although quite quickly. Grows very quickly making this an excellent sustainable crop.

Blackthorn
Burns slow and hot without much smoke – ideal for keeping in over night and one of the best burning woods.
Cherry
Burns slow with a good heat. Has a pleasent scent.
Douglas Fir
Little flame or heat.
Elm
Due to Dutch Elm disease most elm trees have been standing dead for many years – meaning a very well seasoned hard wood that burns for a long time. Ideal for keeping in over night. When green has a very high moisture content, so needs to be well seasoned.
Hawthorn
Very similar properties to Blackthorn. A good burner.
Hazel
Good clean burn with a good heat.
Holly
When seasoned makes an excellent burning wood.
Hornbeam
Similar properties as beech, although not quite as good. Not as common as beech.
Horse Chestnut
Good heat and flame but can spit a bit. Needs to be well seasoned.
Larch
Nice scent and good heat – one of the better softwoods and if well seasoned can last for longer than you might expect.

Lime
Not a great burning wood. High mostisure content means it needs to be well seasoned.
Maple
A good buning wood.
Oak
Very good traditional buring wood. Very hard and good for keeping the fire in overnight. Smoke slightly acrid. Needs to be very well seasoned, but once it is it’s hard to beat.
Pear
Similar to Apple, not as stront a scent.
Pine
Prone to spitting, but burns with a lively flame due to resin high content. Proper seasoning can greatly reduce the spitting

Plum
Similar to other fruitwoods. A good heat and pleasent scent

Poplar
Burns well when seasoned but burns very quickly. Grows very quickly also – a good sustainable crop when coppiced/polllarded.

Spruce
Burns very quickly and spits a bit – there are better softwoods.
Sycamore
Member of the maple family. A nice flame with an ok heat. Low moisture content.
Walnut
Hardwood with good burning properties, although rare for burning as most goes to furniture etc.
Willow
Poor burning wood, but can perform OK when seasoned for a long time in dry conditions. Quickly deteriorates in the wet. Heat & flame OK.

How to light a fire

This is a question we get asked a lot, so here is how it’s done.

Before you start here is some safety information. Please read as fire can be dangerous:

1. Never let minors play with matches or lighters

2. Ensure your chimney has been recently swept.

3. Ensure your fireplace is in good condition, and if you have a wood burner that it’s seals are intact and in good condition.

4. If you are unsure about anything to do with the safely of you, your family or your household with regards to any fireplace/chimney/wood burner get a HETA registered expert in to assess the situation. This is also a good idea when moving into a new property. Fire, smoke and carbon monoxide are all lethal when not controlled and vented in the right way, so if unsure get it checked out by an expert.

5. Assess outside hazards as well – for example a thatched roof. 

 

Lets Begin

1. Ensure the vents on your woodburner are open.

2. Place a fire lighter or a little scrunched up newspaper in your woodburner. Place a handful or 2 of kindling on top, leaving plenty of air gaps.

3. Light the newspaper using a long match, taking care to keep fingers clear.

4. As the fire gets going add more kindling and some small bits of wood, taking care not to smother the fire or to burn yourself.

5. Continue adding larger bits of wood. After  5 – 10 minutes you should begin to have some embers. Add more small wood , then one or 2 logs. 

Notes

Some woodburners allow you to close the door on the handle so that a small air gap remains. This accelerates the burning as the air rushes in, and is useful at the beginning to get things going.

Most woodburners take 20 – 30 minutes to get really hot. Once they are, they are much better at dealing with slightly damp logs, and are much more efficient in general. The vents should be left open or partially open until this point.

Most wood burners allow themselves to be shut right down so that they burn very slowly, but many newer burner have a tertiary air inlet which stays open all the time – this means they burn quicker but burn cleaner with less smoke and produce less pollution.

If you live in a smokeless zone – e.g. in a city – you can still use a wood burner provided you get a ‘smokeless’ type which has been approved by DEFRA. although these still produce some smoke, they burn far cleaner and more efficient. An example would be the ‘Yorkshire’ made by Dunsley, which is approved for smokeless zones in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Always keep your woodburner well maintained and empty the ash draw and ash from the firebox regularly (although it is a good idea to leave a thin bed of as on the bottom of the firebox. 

Above all exercise caution when using fires indoors, and if you are at all unsure about anything get a registered HETA expert in to access the situation.

How to Store Firewood

Do you worry that you don’t have space to store your wood?

Our firewood represents the best value for money when you buy in bulk, because you save on delivery. However, many people worry that they do not have the space to store it.

No need for a shed or barn

Logs need air to circulate in order to further season.That’s why a basic construction like that in the photo works so well.

All they need is a ceiling against the elements

Log stores function better without sides. That’s why in many european countries they stack their firewood first, then place a layer of plastic on the top only.

No need to buy expensive log stores

Basic log stores can be contructed next to your house, such as the one in the picture. It holds 6 Bulk Bags when stacked, and protects from the elements.

When constructing your log store, make sure of the following:

1. Try to put it on a sheltered wall or part of the garden to minimise cross rain.

2. Don’t worry about sides, but if you can, have a decent overhanging roof.

3. Have something along the bottom to keep the logs off the ground.

4. If you haven’t the time to buld it, get a carpenter to do if for you.

 

Once built, a bespoke log store can actually become a feature of your house.and will look like it’s always been there when filled up logs. It will usually be cheaper than something bought, and will be able to fit the space better, holding more logs for you.

Not enough storage?

Stacking wood like the picture below is just as good as a log store, and is how most of European’s store their logs. Logs stored in this way will burn better than when put in a garage or shut shed as it is important that there is enough airflow around the wood. If your wood shows signs of mould on the end then this means you are not letting it breath enough and there is not enough air flow.

Ideally, try to stack the wood on the side of the house or fence away from prevailing winds and no more than 2 logs deep, although 1 log deep is best.