A guide to buying luxury firewood
With most things in life, it is often a false economy to buy the cheapest items on the market. Luxury is normally a term synonymous with watches, clothes and cars. However, it can now be a term applied to firewood. Buying the best can have a lot of benefits.
What you need to look for
When you are investing several hundred pounds in your firewood purchase you need to consider a few factors:
Where is the wood sourced from?
Sustainability may be an issue for you so it may be a concern that a large number of kiln dried logs come from Eastern European countries such as Latvia and Lithuania. Sometimes the timber originates from Russia where sustainable forestry management is arguably less of a concern.
Bear in mind these countries also ship species such as silver birch and alder which will burn much faster than species such as oak and beech and ash.
As a general rule if the wood is in a crate, or unlabelled nets stating a volume in ‘litres’ then it is almost guaranteed to be imported.
If sustainability is a consideration – buy local.
How were the logs dried?
Using kilns that burn oil or gas is not as eco-friendly as using wood fuel or, even better, solar panels to help produce renewable and sustainable electricity.
How dry is the firewood?
You can usually tell how dry a log is by weight, sound and visual cracks. However, the best way to measure moisture content is to use a moisture meter for a truly accurate reading.
Whilst kiln dried logs are widely known to provide a consistently dry firewood below 20% moisture content you still need to be cautious as there can still be significant variation in quality.
When you purchase small quantities of firewood they will usually be in nets and more often they will be softwood varieties such as pine or spruce. These are fine, if dry, but they will burn almost twice as quickly as hardwood species such as oak, ash and beech.
Factor in if you go for alder or birch you will need to buy maybe a 1/3 more volume of wood for the same heat output as oak or beech.
How much are you really buying?
Less than you might think.
Always purchase by volume but check if it is ‘stacked’ or ‘loose’ volume. Crates are ‘stacked’ and the bulk bags are referred to as ‘loose fill’. There is some variance in the sizes of crates coming from Eastern Europe.
Be wary of suppliers who over exaggerate the ‘loose volume’ equivalent making the price look much lower than it really is. Speak to a reputable supplier such as Certainly Wood who will give you the maximum value for money.
What about Quality Assurance?
Historically there has not been much quality control. Suppliers such as Certainly Wood have worked with HETAS to develop a quality control system for firewood and a quality ‘mark’ – Quality Assured Fuel. This is monitored by HETAS which is the equivalent of CORGI for the gas industry.
Look out for the HETAS or Woodsure certification logos that will appear on packaging or websites. This gives you the comfort and knowledge that wood fuel from these suppliers will have been tightly monitored through production to provide you with a consistent product below 25% moisture content but also supplied in a known and approved volume.