Understanding The Government Ban On The Sale of Coal and Wet Wood Fuels

If you are confused about the recent announcement from The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on the upcoming restrictions on fuels you can burn in open fires and stoves don’t be. The experienced team at The Fireplace Warehouse have put together the following Q and A guide to simplify the upcoming legislation.

Q: What is the difference between wet wood and dry wood?

A:  Simply wet wood is wood which has a moisture content ranging from 40% up to 60%. The moisture content is dependent upon how recently the tree was felled. Dry wood or seasoned wood normally has a moisture content of around 30%, whilst kiln dried wood normally has a moisture content of less than 20%.

Wet wood is cheaper to buy because it contains moisture and when burned gives off more smoke and pollution than dry wood.

Q: How can you tell the difference between dry and wet wood?

A: One way to find out is to simply ask your wood supplier, alternatively you can look for the HETAS approved ‘Woodsure’ logo. If you are chopping your own wood, it would normally need to be dried for around 12 months in order to be dry or seasoned wood. However, some types of wood, such as oak, will require longer to dry.

A more hands on way to test whether a piece of wood is wet or dry is to knock two pieces together. Generally a piece of wet wood will make a dull thud, whilst dry wood normally has cracks, a dull colour and loose bark.

Q: Will it become illegal to burn coal and wood in my stove from next year?

A: In short, no it will not be illegal. The restrictions being put in place will mean you won’t be able to purchase wet wood or bags of coal from places like petrol stations and garden centres. Looking further ahead the sale of loose coal will also be being phased out from 2021 to 2023 and in the UK only stoves that meet lower emissions standards will be on sale.

Q: I already own a stove; will I be personalised next year?

A: No, the new standards do not aim to penalise existing stove owners, but the measures will effectively ban the use of coal and unseasoned wet wood.

Q: How much air pollution do wood burning stoves really produce?

A: According to DEFRA’s new Clean Air Strategy, a DEFRA-approved Ecodesign wood-burning stove emits 335g of particulates per MWh. An open fire produces almost 10 times this amount of smoke. Burning wet wood (more than 20 per cent moisture content) produces more smoke but less heat.

Q: Is a wood burning stove more energy efficient than an open fire?

A: Yes they are. A modern wood burning stove generates more heat and emits fewer emissions. It is recommended that anyone currently using an open fire should consider installing an efficient stove.

Q: Can I burn logs I find in my local woods in my log burner?

A: Yes you can, however, the wood that you burn should be dried so that the moisture content is as low as possible, ideally 20% or less.

Q: Where can I find the Government’s Air Quality Strategy?

A: To find out more about the Governments air quality strategy you can follow the below link and read the complete strategy or executive summary: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/clean-air-strategy-2019 

Browse the range of DEFRA Approved stoves available at The Fireplace Warehouse.

We understand that there is nothing like a real fire to add a warm, inviting feel to your home. Browse our range of DEFRA approved stoves available online and in store at one of our showrooms in Burnley, Bolton, Oldham and Cheshire. Alternatively contact our friendly team today on 0844 334 9655 for advise on choosing the right wood burning stove for your home.