Should We Still Use Wood Burners?

The wood fire is one of the most iconic images of winter. There is nothing quite like stepping into a warm room out of the cold and being enveloped by the distinctive smell of burning wood. With worries about health and the environment at the forefront of the news, many people are unsure if they should continue to use wood fires. This information may help you to make an informed decision.

Why We Love Wood Fires

There is no other way of heating quite as relaxing and romantic as a wood fire. Fascination with fire is coded into our evolutionary history. Since ancient times, fire has represented food, warmth, and safety. Despite modern advancements, this significance has endured throughout the centuries. In many religions, fire remains a sacred symbol of purity.

According to research by the University of Alabama, watching and listening to a wood fire lowers blood pressure. The dancing flames, crackling sounds, smell of burning wood, and permeating warmth are a feast for the senses. This multisensory experience of being by a fire helps to absorb our attention and create a sort of hypnotic trance that can reduce anxiety.

Countless books and films feature romance in candle-lit rooms and kissing by the fireplace. Back in our primeval days, campfires were a place for gatherings and social connections. Little has changed today. Soothed by the fire, we feel openness and intimacy with others. In fact, we can probably credit our existence to the fact that our ancestors cuddled by the fire.

Wood fires are a sign of independence and embody the pioneering spirit of mankind. In places where you can collect and cut timber from the wild, burning wood allows you to be self-sufficient and survive off the grid. Even if you buy wood from the store, it is still generally cheaper than other fuels and provided by small businesses instead of Big Energy.

Are Wood Burners Bad?

Despite the appeal of wood burners, they have faced criticism, particularly when it comes to using them inside the home. According to studies conducted in the United Kingdom, wood fires can increase indoor air pollution inside homes by releasing particulate matter into the air. At high levels, pollution particles can enter the bloodstream and lead to health issues.

Some people think that wood fires should be replaced with more modern forms of heating such as electric or gas heaters. These heaters produce heat without smoke and do not require a chimney. But, not everybody can have access to stable electricity or gas, particularly in remote areas. Gas fires also come with the risk of toxic inhalation with poor ventilation.

Another common criticism of wood fires is that it requires the harvesting of trees to create firewood. That said, there are many sources of sustainable firewood including salvaged timber and timber from managed plantations. Unless powered by natural energy, electricity—like gas—relies on a finite resource. Wood, on the other hand, can be a renewable resource if managed properly.

Burning Wood, the Right Way

Since May 2021, wood with a moisture content higher than 20 percent has been prohibited from sale in England. Burning wet wood produces considerably more particulate matter pollution than burning dry logs. It is also less efficient because energy has to be used to evaporate the moisture first. New regulations for minimum burner efficiency and maximum emission levels further came into effect in January 2022.

To ensure that you purchase the most efficient wood for your burner, look for the ‘Ready to Burn’ logo and seller certificate on your firewood packaging. Homesteaders who know how to store and season wood can consider drying wood on their own and monitoring it with a moisture meter. However, seasoning can take several years depending on the storage conditions.

Try to choose the most sustainable source of firewood. Some companies like Certainly Wood use only firewood from actively-managed, sustainable woodlands. They also dry their logs in unique kilns powered by solar panels and package most of their products in cardboard. Unique innovations from companies like this will allow you to take pleasure in your wood fire without worrying about its environmental impact.

The quality of your wood-burning stove itself is important as well. If you are looking to buy a new stove, be sure to choose an ‘Ecodesign Ready’ stove that meets the latest emissions limits. Be sure that your stove and its air vents are maintained and clear of blockages. A good supply of air is essential. Poor airflow can lead to more emissions as well as dangerous trapped smoke or carbon monoxide.

Today, wood fires remain a popular choice. Whether you love the overall aesthetic or the independence that a wood fire offers, you can continue to have a wood burner by being aware of how to use it responsibly. By choosing sustainable dry firewood and keeping your burner in top condition, you can avoid any issues and enjoy all the perks that a wood fire has to offer.