Wood as a Fuel

At Lee Davies Fireplace and Brickwork Specialists, we are not only experts in the sourcing and installation of fireplaces, stoves, and gas fires, but we can also advise you on the best wood to burn. Below, we describe some of the best wood to use in wood burning stove, and how to get the best possible use out of your stove and firewood. If you would like to be the proud owner of a brand new, expertly fitted and installed, get in touch with us today. We cover a wide range of locations, including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Bedfordshire, London, Dorset, and Devon.

What wood types are best used as wood fuel?

Almost all types of hardwood, including Pine, Ash, Pear, Oak, and Birch, can be used as decent fuel for wood burning stoves, however wood with high resin should be avoided. Additionally, the heavier the wood, the more heat will be generated and the longer the wood will burn, so hardwoods are the most economical fuel choice.

Seasoning and moisture should also be taken into account when searching for appropriate firewood, as both factors could lead to an inadequate fire or chimney fires. The burning of wet wood is also less efficient and could lead to the clogging up of your flue or chimney system. Wet or unseasoned wood can also be harmful to the airwash system in the stove, eventually causing the glass to stain and blacken. Additionally, a moisture meter is highly recommended to test the moisture level of logs.
Some of the most common types of wood used as fuel, including some of which you might find in your own garden:

Alder
Alder wood usually burns very quickly, and consequently has a smaller heat output than other firewoods.

Apple
Apple wood burns more slowly and at a comfortable heat, produces a wonderful smell, but a disappointing flame.

Ash
Considered to be the best firewood, Ash has a naturally low moisture content, burns slow, and has a great heat output.

Beech
Beech wood takes longer to season, but when dry it makes a great firewood with a long burn time and high heat output.

Birch
Despite the quick burn time, Birch wood provides a high heat output with bright flames and a very pleasant smell.

Cedar
Cedar wood produces a particularly long lasting heat that results from an exceptionally well burning, well seasoned log.

Cherry
A slow burning wood with a relatively good heat output that is traditionally used at Christmas. Cherry wood also gives off a fragrant smell.
Chestnut
Chestnut wood makes a good fuel for wood burning stoves, as it has a reasonable heat output, flame, and burn time.

Cypress
Cypress is a very common, fast-growing garden tree that burns quickly, so it is best mixed with other hardwood.

Elm
Elm burns well, but at a slower pace. It takes longer to season due to its high water content, but gives off a long lasting heat.

Eucalyptus
This wood needs to be very well seasoned before it is burned. It produces aromatic fragrances, and burns well.

Hawthorn
Hawthorn is a very decent firewood that burns slowly and steadily, and produces a reasonably good heat output.

Hazel
This type of firewood burns very quickly, but can still produce a good heat output when allowed to season properly.

Holly
Holly produces a very bright, brilliant flame when burnt, however, it burns very quickly and produces a disappointing heat output.

Laburnum
Laburnum produces foul smoke, and will damage your airwash system. This wood is not recommended for wood burning stoves.

Larch
Larch is a softer wood, however it still produces a high heat output. This wood is best mixed with others for a better result.
Lime
Lime is not the best type of wood to use in a wood burning stove, as it produces an unimpressive flame with limited heat output.

Oak
Oak takes a long time to season due to its high moisture content, but burns slowly with great flames and an exceptionally long lasting heat.

Pear
Similar to Apple wood, burns slowly and steadily to provide a reasonable heat and, again, with a pleasant smell but dis

Pine
Pine also burns quickly and with a bright flame, however extended use is not recommended due to the high resin content.

Poplar
Using Poplar wood as wood fuel is not recommended, as burns poorly with a heavy black smoke, even if well seasoned.

Rowan
This popular type of hardwood tends to burn at a slower rate, but produces a decent, long lasting heat output.

Spruce
Spruce tends to burn very quickly. It produces a relatively low heat, and can cause excessive smoke and sparks.

Sycamore
This wood makes a good wood fuel, as it burns slowly and steadily with a definite flame and a good heat output.

Willow
Even when well seasoned, willow wood is poor wood for burning, as it produces a slow burning fire with no flame.

Yew
While Yew is a slow burning wood, it burns with a very high, long lasting heat output that makes it a good fuel choice

Ash Wood

Ash trees make up approximately 15% of the total number of trees in the UK, and account for 22 million tonnes of the hardwood stock in the UK. Statistically speaking, this means that you are never far away from an Ash tree. The UK is the largest producer of quality Ash timber in Europe, making it the most valuable locally produced hardwood. Its low moisture content makes it highly sought after as a wood fuel log, as it takes less time to season.

The steady supply of Ash wood fuel is due to the felling of Ash trees to manage the outbreak of Ash Dieback Disease. Despite this, a common theory is that the disease can be spread by moving the infected Ash wood through the timber and wood log trade.

The movement ban currently enforced by the Government does not extend to the movement of timber and firewood made from Ash, however, as the government does not believe the movement of the wood would incur an additional risk. Since there is no clear advice from the government in terms of Ash wood, it is strongly suggested that anyone interested in buying Ash wood for use in their wood burning stove should source their wood from a local supplier to minimise the risk of Ash Dieback Disease.

What poor performance is caused by wet or unseasoned wood?

  • Difficulty starting fires and keeping them lit
  • Fewer flames or flames with a dirty colour
  • Denser smoke emanating from your chimney
  • Fires do not burn for very long
  • Poor heat quality and output
  • Filthy glass coverings or firebricks
  • Increased buildup of creosote in the flue or chimney system
  • Increased presence of smoke or a smokey smell inside or outside your home

Any manufactured chipboard, plywood, medium density fibreboard, or laminated timber
should not be used as wood fuel, as the high chemical content in the adhesive or varnish will leave potentially damaging residue in the flue system of your wood burning stove. Additionally, these woods may also give off harmful and unhealthy fumes when burnt. Despite the allure of burning readily available wood cuts of this nature, the fumes would be more dangerous than if proper, non-manufactured wood fuel was used.
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