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The debate around woodburners

  • by JW

“I strongly suspect that what comes out of a jet plane, or a monster cargo ship, should probably be of rather more concern.”


New rules have come in about using wood-burners – but some find these rather confusing:

The Government rules state: “Burning at home, particularly with traditional house coal or wet wood, is a major source of the pollutant PM2.5 – which has been identified by the World Health Organisation as the most serious air pollutant for human health. People with log burners and open fires can still use them, but will be required to buy cleaner alternative fuels – if they are not already – such as dry wood and manufactured solid fuels which produce less smoke. Both of these cleaner options are just as easy to source and more efficient to burn, making them more cost effective. Burning dry wood also produces more heat and less soot than wet wood and can reduce emissions by up to 50%.”

New rules on open fires and log burners leave people confused |

In his latest piece in the WMN this week, Anton Coaker, timber merchant and Dartmoor farmer, gives his opinion:

Meanwhile, you may have heard about plans to outlaw burning wood – unless it’s crispy toasted and dry. This is one of Michael Gove’s fabulous ideas… by golly his brain must just fizz. The premise is that it’s more efficient to burn drier wood – which is surely true – releasing less nasty particulate matter and toxic gases. This might well be true, although I strongly suspect that what comes out of a jet plane, or a monster cargo ship, should probably be of rather more concern. But no, it’s woodburners and open fires which are the work of the devil, and need reining in.

So laws have been enacted to outlaw the sale of inadequately dried firewood. Twenty per cent moisture content is the magic figure brainy old Michael came up with. And I can tell you, naturally seasoned firewood at 20% is very dry indeed. Any lower takes artificial drying – which consumes power. So, to avoid jail time, we’ve built a 40 tonne log drying cage, loaded and unloaded with the bucket on the telehandler, with mesh sides and a roof. Whether the material that comes out of it meets the specification remains to be seen, but this is the best I can come up with.

Adam Azenic and Michael Stoneman of Hunter Stoves, Exeter pioneering the development of a zero emission woodburning stove

The Anton Coaker column thread |

There is indeed a lot of heated debate on the issue:

Wood burning stoves are deadly, not trendy |

Wood-burning stoves – cosy home comfort or invisible killer? |

However, the technology has improved somewhat:

Exeter firm has ‘secret’ prototype for world’s least polluting woodburner | (see photo)

As have the techniques of using them:

Wood fire guide: how to burn firewood sustainably, how to light a fire and best wood to burn |