Last season saw a boom in wood burning stove sales and this season looks as though it could be busy again. Stove manufacturers only recommend wood which is dried to a moisture content of approx 20% to ensure optimum stove efficiency – a clean burn with maximum heat output.
I wonder how many coal merchants have a moisture meter (probably none) and how many consider the importance of quality. It is time to change!
Firewood supply needs a major overhaul and the long process is just beginning. Hetas have recently launched a new scheme – The Solid Biomass Assurance Scheme which is aimed at setting standards for all Biomass fuels from firewood to woodchip and pellets.
The scheme recently had its launch at Certainly Wood’s open day at which CEO Bruce Allen and scheme manager Bill Massey presented the 1st certificate of approval to Certainly Wood. Managing Director Nic Snell said “We are delighted to be the first UK firewood producer to become recognised for its high quality under this new scheme”. We hope this will now set industry standards and more producers will follow suit, but it is vital that the scheme’s standards are maintained and strictly monitored – this should not become just a paper exercise and must provide consumers with the confidence in what they are buying”.
Certainly Wood, based in Herefordshire is now the largest firewood producer in the UK producing 12,000 tonnes per annum of premium quality firewood, specialising in kiln dried hardwood. Other products include kiln dried kindling, log stores, heat logs, natural firelighters and soon to launch wood pellets. The company has developed a network of retailers throughout the UK and is keen that coal merchants begin to see the benefits of selling premium quality kiln dried firewood to meet the needs of those with wood burning stoves.
Chairman George Snell added “We have worked hard to ensure a high quality product and in the last 12 months we have invested heavily in new wood fired kilns which run on our own wood waste and most importantly increases our output of kiln dried wood by 4 times. We are now well placed to meet the needs of the market and ensure prompt delivery”. He went on to say “We are confident there is plenty of wood available but we have to pay up to 30% more for raw material. We are keen to support this price rise as it will encourage more owners to thin and manage their woodland, however we hope that prices will begin stabilise so that firewood remains as a very competitive home heating fuel”
It is important that consumers start to understand the benefits of kiln dried wood and the fact that they should never buy by weight as they will often be paying for water! They need to judge quality by moisture content and not length of ‘seasoning’ time as this is meaningless. Wood which is left outside and unsplit for 2 years will hardly dry at all – it must be split to increase the surface area for drying and stored under cover with a good airflow. This speeds up the drying process hugely. Finally consumers need to understand that they are buying a volume of energy and quite simply they will get nearly twice as much heat from kiln dried wood as poorly seasoned wood. In buying poor quality you will need twice as much wood for the same heat output – how cost effective is that?
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