Burning wet wood will lead to an increase in smoke and emissions and produce little heat. It will also lead to a blackening of the stove glass and a build-up of soot in the chimney. Using dry wood also means that fewer logs are needed to produce the same level of heat.
Modern stoves are designed to burn dry wood
The SIA recommends that only logs with a moisture content below 20% should be used in a stove. In fact, in 2021 the sale of wet wood (i.e. wood with a moisture content higher than 20%) in volumes under 2 cubic meters was phased out altogether following new government legislation announced in 2020.
Freshly cut wood can have a water content between 60% and 80% and, if used in a stove, will amount to burning mainly water. Freshly felled timber should be cut and split into small logs and left to dry in a covered but airy store, before being used. This can take between 12 and 36 months depending on the storage conditions and most importantly species. For example, ash may only need 12 months but oak at least 36 months. This is known as seasoning.
Using dry wood
Many people do not have the space or inclination to dry wood for up to three years. They want to buy wood that is ready to burn, dried to have a moisture content below 20%. This is why Woodsure has launched the Ready to Burn logo to give consumers the confidence that they are purchasing logs that have a moisture content below 20%.
In her address at the launch of Ready to Burn, Dr. Coffey, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, said:
“Many of us enjoy a fire at home, but what you burn and how you burn it has a real impact on air quality. The Ready to Burn logo will allow people to easily identify clean, quality wood fuel, allowing them to make informed choices that will not only benefit their appliances, but also wider air quality.”