Tips to get the most out of your log fire

There's nothing better than a crackling log fire and the smell of burning wood and here are some tips to get the most out of your log fire.

Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air, but when wood is burnt carbon is released back into the atmosphere. As long as new trees are planted to replenish stocks, this carbon balance is maintained, making it one of the greenest fuels.

A really good fire requires dry seasoned wood and, as a guide, a 3" diameter log will be seasoned after 1 year in dry conditions and a 6" diameter log will take 2 years.

To successfully season timber, split and stack the logs so as to allow air circulation and store it under cover. You should be aiming for a moisture content of less than 20%.

Whilst all logs will burn, the calorific values of wood varies according to the tree species. Broadleaf species, such as oak, ash and beech, produce more kilowatts of energy than conifers, such as pine and fir.

When wood is burnt efficiently it breaks down with air into ash, carbon dioxide and steam. If you can see smoke from the chimney it’s a sign of inefficient burning. Maintain a fast burn when adding new wood to the fire to prevent a build up of tarry deposits in your chimney.
Avoid drying out timber inside your house as it is likely to contain wood-boring insects, such as woodworm or the common furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum), which may enjoy eating things other than your logs.
If you want to supplement your wood supply and recycle newspapers you could use a log maker. There are two types a dry log maker and a wet log maker that Melanie Rimmer at Bean Sprouts wrote about recently.

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