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Love your stove by using the right fuel

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year. 
Chestnut's only good, they say, 
If for long 'tis laid away. 
But Ash new or Ash old 
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold. 
Birch and fir logs burn too fast 
Blaze up bright and do not last. 
It is by the Irish said 
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread. 
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould, 
E ' en the very flames are cold. 
But Ash green or Ash brown 
Is fit for a queen with golden crown. 
Poplar gives a bitter smoke, 
Fills your eyes and makes you choke. 
Apple wood will scent your room 
With an incense like perfume. 
Oaken logs, if dry and old. 
Keep away the winter's cold. 
But Ash wet or Ash dry 
A king shall warm his slippers by. 

Oaken logs, if dry and old,
Keep away the winter's cold
Poplar gives a bitter smoke
, Fills your eyes, and makes you choke
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould
, Even the very flames are cold
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread -
Or so it is in Ireland said,
Applewood will scent the room,
Pearwood smells like flowers in bloom,
But Ashwood wet and Ashwood dry,
A King can warm his slippers by.

Beechwood logs burn bright and clear, 
If the wood is kept a year
Store your Beech for Christmas-tide,
With new-cut holly laid aside
Chestnut's only good, they say
If for years it's stored away
Birch and Fir wood burn too fast,
Blaze too bright, and do not last
Flames from larch will shoot up high,
And dangerously the sparks will fly...
But Ashwood green, 
And Ashwood brown
Are fit for Queen with golden crown.

log crate

Best Burning Trees 

  • Hickory - 25 to 28 million BTUs/cord - density 37 to 58 lbs./cu.ft.

  • Oak - 24 to 28 million BTUs/cord - density 37 to 58 lbs./cu.ft.

  • Beech - 24 to 27 million BTUs/cord - density 32 to 56 lbs./cu.ft.

  • White Ash - 24 million BTUs/cord - density 43 lbs./cu.ft.

Poor Performing Trees

  • White Pine - 15 million BTUs/cord - density 22 to 31 lbs./cu.ft.

  • Cottonwood/Willow - 16 million BTUs/cord - density 24 to 37 lbs./cu.ft.

  • Basswood - 14 million BTUs/cord - density 20 to 37 lbs./cu.ft.

  • Aspen - 15 million BTUs/cord - density 26 lbs./cu.ft.

  • Yellow Poplar - 18 mm million BTUs/cord - density 22 to 31 lbs./cu.ft.


The History

The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 were introduced to deal with the smogs of the 1950s and 1960s which were caused by the widespread burning of house coal for domestic heating and by industry. These smogs were blamed for the premature deaths of hundreds of people in the UK. The Acts gave local authorities powers to control emissions of dark smoke, grit, dust and fumes from industrial premises and furnaces and to declare “smoke control areas” in which emissions of harmful smoke from domestic properties are banned.

Since then, smoke control areas have been introduced in many of our large towns and cities in the UK and in large parts of the Midlands, North West, South Yorkshire, North East of England, Central and Southern Scotland. The implementation of smoke control areas, the increased popularity of natural gas and the changes in the industrial and economic structure of the UK lead to a substantial reduction in concentrations of smoke and associated levels of sulphur dioxide (SO2) between the 1950s and the present day.

These Acts, together with other associated clean air legislation, were repealed and consolidated by the Clean Air Act 1993 which, together with regulations and Orders made under the Act, provide the current legislative controls.

Smoke Control Areas

Contact your local council to see if you live in a smoke control area, you will just need to give them your postal code. The environmental services department will be able to help you.

Under the Clean Air Act local authorities may declare the whole or part of the district of the authority to be a smoke control area. It is an offence to emit smoke from a chimney of a building, from a furnace or from any fixed boiler if located in a designated smoke control area. It is also an offence to acquire an unauthorised fuel for use within a smoke control area unless it is used in an “exempt” appliance (“exempted” from the controls which generally apply in the smoke control area). The current maximum level of fine is £1,000 for each offence.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has powers under the Act to authorise smokeless fuels or exempt appliances for use in smoke control areas in England. In Scotland and Wales this power rests with Ministers in the devolved administrations for those countries. Separate legislation, the Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981, applies in Northern Ireland.

Therefore it is a requirement that fuels burnt or obtained for use in smoke control areas have been “authorised” in Regulations and that appliances used to burn solid fuel in those areas (other than “authorised” fuels) have been exempted by an Order made and signed by the Secretary of State or Minister in the devolved administrations.

Your local authority is responsible for enforcing the legislation in smoke control areas and you can contact them for details of any smoke control areas in their area. They should also have details of the fuels and appliances which may be used.

Authorised Fuels

These are fuels which are authorised by Statutory Instruments (Regulations) made under the Clean Air Act 1993 or Clean Air (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 and include manufactured solid smokeless fuels. These fuels have passed tests to confirm that they are capable of burning in an open fireplace without producing smoke.

HETAS Approved Solid Fuels can be found by clicking here.

Additionally, a list can be found on the Defra website.




  1. Fully open the Primary and Airwash controls(and tertiary if your stove has one).

  2. Place a firelighter or paper together with dry kindling wood on to a couple of small logs or a layer of kindling on the base of the stove and light the firelighter or paper.

  3. Leave the door slightly open as the fire establishes and the glass warms, avoiding the possible build up of condensation.

  4. Add larger pieces of wood to build the fire. Too many logs may smother the fire.

  5. Close the door fully when the fire is established.

  6. Once the top of the stove is too hot to touch, close the Primary air control. Use the Airwash control to turn your stove up and down.


  1. Open the Primary and Airwash controls fully.

  2. Rake the embers over the grate to establish a glowing fire bed (if the fire bed is low add a small amount of kindling wood to help re-establish the fire.

  3. Place new logs in an open arrangement to allow oxygen to easily reach every part of the fire. Compact loading will make the wood burn slower; cause the fire to smolder and produce more smoke.

  4. Burn the new logs at high output for 3-5 minutes before closing the primary air control. Adjust the burn rate using the Airwash control. Do not close the air controls until the fire is burning well.

  5. Refuel little and often for clean, efficient burning.

Useful tips:

  1. Experience will establish the setting to suit your needs.

  2. Ensure your logs are well-seasoned and dry. Hardwood logs also have a higher calorific value compared to softwoods. (20% moisture content maximum) 

  3. Do not burn large amounts of fuel with the Airwash control closed for long periods of time. This blacks up the glass, causes tars/creosotes to build up in the appliance and the flue system and will produce an excessive amount of smoke.

  4. Burning the stove at high output for a short period also reduces tars and creosote

  5. A bright and clean firebox indicates the stove is burning well.

  6. These tips are for general guidance only and the manufacturer’s instructions and fuel recommendations should always be followed.


When choosing the correct logs for burning there are two significant factors you should take in to account:

1. Moisture content, The moisture content of the logs has a dramatic impact upon the way your stove will burn and its heat output. Logs that are not correctly seasoned will result in a fire that smoulders and creates lots of tar and smoke, this will damage the stove and liner and is the biggest cause of chimney fires. Incorrectly seasoned logs will blacken the glass in your stove, even if the stove is designed to keep the glass clean. You should always take care to burn only dried (seasoned) wood, either by buying it dry, or by buying green logs and drying them yourself, if you are drying logs yourself it is advisable to purchase a moisture meter to test the logs as they need to be at 20% moisture content or less.

2. Wood density, When buying logs a seller should always inform you whether they are from hardwood or softwood tree species (or mixed). The difference is that hardwood trees (deciduous, broadleaved tree species) tend to be denser than softwoods (evergreen, coniferous species) this means that a tonne of hardwood logs will occupy a smaller space than a tonne of softwood logs. Hardwood will burn for longer than softwood and give you much better return for your money. You can purchase kiln dried logs from the Heat Store which are guaranteed to be at 20% moisture content or less. These logs are always hard wood and very dry typically around 14% moisture content.




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