Buying fuel that doesn’t come at the flick of a switch or turn of a control can be a minefield for homeowners, whether they have installed a wood burner or multi-fuel burner from scratch, or inherited one of these appliances, or an open coal fire. Knowing what you are doing and what you should be using can be a serious matter, as using the wrong fuel could damage your chimney, cause a bigger issue, or invalidate your appliance’s warranty. Here are some top tips to find out what type of fuel user you are, together with a product pick that will help make your life easier.
1. Hot Chicks
If you are a homeowner who feels the cold and really wants to have and maintain a hot fire, there are various products you need to consider.
If you are burning wood, it is absolutely essential that you buy wood that is well seasoned and kiln-dried to have a moisture content of 12-12%, as is the case with Logs Direct’s kiln-dried wood. If you cut wood from your own land, or have farm logs supplied, you will quickly discover that trees are a poor fuel source! ‘Green wood’ is full of moisture, with a high concentration of water. When you burn this type of log, half of the potential energy will be lost in evaporation. Any freshly-cut log would need to be dried for an extensive length of time – one to two years – to offer you the same calorific value of a kiln-dried log, so buying fresh logs at a cheap price is actually false economy.
Freshly cut wood will spit and smoke and create unpleasant odours in your home, whereas a kiln-dried log will burn cleanly and efficiently. It will take three freshly-cut logs to produce the same amount of energy as one kiln-dried log, which means you will also need a bigger logs storage area in order to create the same amount of heat. Other products to keep you hot, hot, hot are Woodcoal Briquettes and Blaze Smokeless Fuel.
Woodcoal Briquettes come in a 20kg bag and costing £9.99, which are an intense-burning coal for multi-fuel stoves, which generates high heat and a flame. On an open fire, opt for traditional Columbian house coal doubles. You can have 20 bags offering an intense burn and large amount of heat for £124.99.
Blaze Smokeless Fuel (£9.50) also comes in 20kg bags (£9.50 per bag). This fuel is manufactured from anthracite and is used on open fires, multi-fuel stoves and room heaters. They offer a great heat output and long burn. The same hot burn and extended burning time can be achieved from Blazebrite Smokeless, used in today’s modern closed appliances, whilst Anthracite Smokeless Coal Small Nuts (£9.50) also offer consistently high heat outputs, intense heat and a strong burn, on cold winter nights.
2. The All-Nighter
If you want a fuel that will keep you warm throughout the night, go for Blazebrite Smokeless coal (as above). This can be loaded into your closed appliance (even multi-fuel stoves that cannot normally use house coal) and can run at lower settings for longer periods of the day. It is highly responsive to thermostat changes, but also able to slumber for long spells and can keep warm all night.
3. The Wood Burning Beginner
If you are using a wood burner for the first time, Logs Direct’s Kiln-Dried Starter Pack (£145) is the ideal package for you. You can get up and running with your solid fuel appliance with this mixture of kiln-dried firewood (a Logs Direct Dumpy Bag), kiln-dried kindling (5 nets) and two boxes of firelighters.
4. The One-Off Winter Purchaser
If you like to get all your winter wood burner purchases sorted in one fell swoop, opt for a Logs Direct Kiln-Dried Hardwood Log Mammoth Bag (£154.99). Each mammoth bag is 1.2 cubic metres in size, making it a single-purchase solution for winter warming. The wood comes in a breathable bag and has a plastic covering that will enable it to keep its shape during transit. With a moisture content of only 12-20%, this super-efficient wood will keep your fire burning brightly all winter.
5. Mr Neat & Miss Tidy
If these descriptions sum you up, you will wish to find a neat and tidy storage solution for your fuel source. A Woodstore could be just what you seek and a store that will hold 1 cubic metre of wood will cost you just £125. However, if you don’t want something off-the-shelf and wish to make your wood store a design feature outside of your home, Logs Direct can custom-build a logs store to your own specifications and design, whether you wish it to look like a tepee, or one of Puglia’s famous ‘Trullo’ houses!
6. Sustainable Values
Hardwood cannot be sourced in the UK these days, so Logs Direct sources its wood in Latvia, where it contributes to the local economy and has made a real difference to the lives of people who had no real income source previously. However, if you wish to stay closer to home and have wood sourced on your doorstep, you can opt for softwood. This is lighter, less dense wood, which burns faster and is, therefore, not as fuel efficient, although it will get a fire started quickly. This wood is typically a mixture of conifers – pine, fir, spruce and cedar – sourced from sustainable, managed woodlands. You can mix it with unseasoned hardwood, if you wish, to keep the fire going. Logs Direct can supply your softwood in an 8kg net (£2.50), a Dumpy Bag of Seasoned Softwood (1 cubic metre costs £79.99), a Pallet Load (80 bags costs £164.99) or a Truck Load (if you live in an LA or PR postcode and can take 3 cubic metres of wood to season for at least a year).
7. Well Decorated
If you wish to make logs a design feature in your new home, Logs Direct can supply some inspiration. Whole & Split Ornamental Decorative Fireplace Logs cost just £7.99 and enable you to create the look of freshly chopped wood either by your stove, or in your fireplace in the summer months. You can choose from split Silver Birch logs, split Alder logs, or whole round Silver Birch logs. Each net is approximately 60cm x 45 cm in size and contains 12 logs, which are all cleaned and kiln-dried and felled from Logs Direct’s farm in Lancaster. In a display surrounded by tea lights, they can look simply stunning, whilst Alder will also give your home a fabulous aroma.
These logs can also be used to create fantastic feature walls, or talking points in halls and conservatories, for those wishing to adopt a rustic theme. Ornamental Decorative Log Mini-Bags, containing around 40 logs, split or whole, cost £25, but Logs Direct can also cut and design bespoke decorative logs for any display you wish to design.
If buying wood, opting for kiln-dried wood will enable you to burn a third less wood, for the same amount of heat, than if you were burning fresh logs, with a high moisture content. Logs Direct can also offer you 10kg Blazers Eco Logs (£4.50) that are compressed sawdust logs with no glues or additives an which will create little ash when burnt. They also constantly burn at a high temperature, but produce fewer CO2 emissions than normal logs.
9. Space Cadets
If your home really doesn’t have much space in which to store fuel, or has restricted access ways for deliveries, you need to consider some fuel solutions that won’t overwhelm you, or improve impossible to drop off. A Kiln-Dried Mini-Net (£4.99) from Logs Direct will give you 10-12 logs and be a perfect accompaniment to a coal fire. In general, buying smaller bags like this will serve you well, if you are short of space.
If operating an open fire or multi-fuel burner, you could go for a 20kg bag of Supabrite Smokeless Fuel (£6.50), or, if you have an open fire, wood burner or multi-fuel burner, a 20kg bag of Woodcoal Briquettes (£9.99). The former will give you great heat output (and can burn in a smokeless zone if you have a DEFRA-approved appliance), whilst the latter is a naturally occurring product offering high heat and a gorgeous glowing briquette on the fire.
If you know that you simply won’t have time to start a fire when you get up in the morning, you don’t have to. Simply opt for Blazebrite Smokeless fuel for a closed appliance (20 kg bags cost £9.50) and use the thermostat to control the heat output. If you let heat slumber during the night, the fire will still be warm for you in the morning, as your rise to go to work.
11. Cleaning Phobia
If lots of cleaning really isn’t your thing, first consider a multi-fuel appliance, with a removable grate that you can easily empty of ash. Reducing ash can also be achieved by using kiln-dried wood, rather than fresh wood that will spit, smoke and create a lot of wasteful ash. Products such as Excel Smokeless Coal (£10.50 for a 20kg bag) and Supabrite Smokless Fuel (£6.50 for xxx) also have a low ash output.
12. Keen Gardener
If you are a keen gardener, hoping to use fuel bi-products as fertilizer, you should consider using Blazers Eco Logs (£4.50 for a 10kg bag) and also available in a pallet of 108 bags and WARMA Chimenea Fuel (£4.99) if you like entertaining, but would also appreciate using the fuels remains as a nutrient.
13. Pizza Oven Entertainer
Those who plan to make a wood-fired pizza oven the hub of their summer’s entertaining, should be looking to buy Kiln-Dried Wood as the fuel source, to ensure a consistent cooking temperature and no nasty smoke that could taint the food. Kiln-Dried Kindling should also be used to get the firest started.
Additionally, you can use a wood-wool eco-lighter. This contains no chemicals, or the nasty-smelling paraffin that can get on to the fingers, and will get the fire started quickly, without tainting food. The firelighters are made from sustainably sourced wood wool, soaked with clean candle and bees waxes, to produce a non-toxic product that is ideal for grills, barbecues and wood-fired ovens. There are no unpleasant odours to worry about during the cooking process and one firelighter will light coal, wood, or briquettes. Each is 9cm long and burns for 10 minutes. The firelighters come in a box measuring 120 x 90 x 155mm and containing 24 firelighters. Its RRP is £3.50.
14. Smoke Control Zone Dweller
Do you live in a smoke control zone? Have you checked? If the answer is ‘yes’ and you plan to burn fuel, you will need to abide by legislation and use a type of fuel approved for use in these areas – which contrary to popular belief are not just based in London! Products approved for smoke controlled areas are Excel Smokeless Coal (£10.50 for a 20kg bag), which is a clean fuel with a high output and one that is ideal for multi-fuel stoves. Blaze Smokeless Fuel (£9.50 for a 20kg bag) is also approved for smoke control areas and is manufactured from anthracite. This is suitable for open fires, multi-fuel stoves and room heaters.
15. Biomass Boiler Owners
If you are able to use wood pellets for a pellet stove or biomass boiler, Blazers Wood Pellets are a fabulous option. These highly compressed, very dry pellets are squeezed through a 6mm die, which releases natural substances that act as a glue. These carbon-neutral pellets have a very high output and efficiency rating, with a moisture content of around just 8%. Due to their high efficiency they have an ENplus Grade A1 rating for use in boilers operating under the Renewable Heat Incentive. You can buy small quantities in 15kg bags for £5 per bag or opt for a pallet of 87 bags for a price of £269.99
16. Basket Case
If you love living the wood idyll and wish to house, or transport your logs in a basket, Logs Direct has some striking options. A Log Basket on Wheels costs £75 and is formed of rattan, with hessian liners. This basket enables you to easily wheel your logs to where you wish them to be in the house, after filling them up from your store, or following your latest delivery. This comes as a small or large option.
There is also a Rectangular Log Basket with handles, which will keep your log pile neat and tidy and enable you to carry smaller log loads in from outside. This again has two sizes and costs £60.
An Open Front Handle Basket, in small, medium and large, with also look highly attractive in your home and costs just £19.99
17. Bargain Hunter
If you like to track down a bargain, Logs Direct’s buy-in-bulk offers are just the thing for you, whether you are buying wood, a mixed pack of wood, coal and extras, or just coal. Head to www.logsdirect.co.uk to view all the offers available and save yourself money on your winter fuel supplies.
18. The Impatient
If you don’t have the patience to wait for your fuel to catch light and can’t wait to get the fire started, you need to seek out the right products to help you. In general, softwood will light faster than hard wood, but what you gain in speed, you will lose in heat output. By using Kiln-Dried Kindling (£2.99 for a net) as well as efficient Firelighters such as the Wood-Wool Eco-Lighter, you can set wood alight pretty quickly. If using coal, opt for something like Blaze Smokeless Fuel (£9.50 for a 20kg bag). Formed from anthracite, this is also easy to light, with the help of kindling and a couple of firelighters.
19. The Flame Seeker
Different fuels will produce different effects in the fireplace or wood burner. If you desire a romantic flame, rather than a glow, you will find that Silver Birch may be the wood for you. This is one of the most popular firewoods in the world and one that produces a beautiful flame pattern. You can buy this wood in various ways, from small quantity bundles to a Seasoned Hardwood Silver Birch Crate with a capacity of 1.2 cubic metres (£199). House coal (and all of Logs Direct’s house coal doubles are Columbian-grade, at no extra cost), will also give you a flame, rather than the glow that would come from something like Blazebrite Smokeless fuel (£6.50) or a glowing briquette like a Woodcoal Briquette (£9.99).
20. The Second Homer
If you have a second home, which you go to on winter weekends, or maybe even over Christmas and New Year, you probably want a no-fuss solution that will get your open fire started very soon after your arrival. The perfect product for you is probably the Smokeless Fuel Firepak (£5.50), which is a complete fire in a bag, which will give you up to four hours of fire magic in the grate. All you need do is put the pack in the grate, positioning the red lighting strip towards you and then pull on the corners of the strip to light them. This smokeless coal with Irish peat also comes as a handy four pack, costing £20.