Fuels for Open Fireplaces

Fuels for open fireplaces – What’s Best?

There are a number of different fuels for open fireplaces.  In its simplest form you have the choice between wood and coal.  However there are a number of varieties of fuels for open fireplaces, each as well as the option of using them on their own or mixed together starts to complicate the decision.

As well as the different types of fuels for open fireplaces that are available, you’ll also need to take into consideration the type of liner you have and whether or not you reside in a smoke control zone.

Let’s look at of wood and coal in a bit more detail…

When burning wood you have the option of kiln dried, seasoned or unseasoned wood.

Kiln dried wood

is the best fuels for open fireplaces that you can burn, it has been dried in a kiln and has a moisture content of between 10% and 20%.  The drying process enables the cells in the wood to dry out thoroughly so that one log of kiln dried wood is 3 times more effective than an unseasoned log.  Another benefit of using kiln dried wood in an open fireplace is that it doesn’t spit so you won’t have any damage to your flooring in front of the fireplace. It is the best of the available fuels for open fireplaces.

Seasoned wood

is wood that has been seasoned for 6 years after it has been felled.  If the wood isn’t going through a drying process in the kiln then it must be left for 6 years before it is burnt on a fireplace.  This gives the wood enough time for the moisture in the cells of the wood to dry out properly.  Burning wood that isn’t seasoned or kiln dried will create tar and creosote that lines the inside of your chimney.  Many customers are caught out by fuel suppliers offering wood that is ‘seasoned’ but hasn’t been seasoned for the full 6 years – when purchasing seasoned wood make sure you get confirmation of the number of years it has been seasoned for.

Part seasoned wood

is wood that has been seasoned for typically 2-3 years, this wood is only supplied on the understanding that the wood will be seasoned by the customer for a further 2-3 years until the full 6 years of seasoning has been achieved.

Kiln dried wood is the best fuel for open fireplaces

House coal

is typically used on its own or in combination with wood.  You can get a lot of clunker which is the small bits of coal that fall of when the pieces of coal hit each other in transit.  There are types of house coal which have been developed to reduce the amount of clunker.  When it comes to an open fireplace it has been popular to have a bed of coal and then put wood on top.  By doing this the fire burns longer because of the embers and produces more heat.  The only downside to this is that it can be messier so be careful!

Smokeless coal

has been developed so that it doesn’t produce smoke and can therefore be used in smoke controlled zones.  The process it goes through to make it smokeless does mean that the chemicals in the burning process will damage some types of liners.  So before burning smokeless make sure you’ve identified the type of liner you have and whether or not it is suitable for smokeless coal.

Smoke controlled zonesIf your property is in a smoke control zone then you will be restricted to burning smokeless coal only.  To find out whether or not you fall into this category you can visit your local council’s website which will have a list of streets that are in the smoke controlled zone.  If you are in this zone and you have an open fireplace then it means you can only burn smokeless coal in your fireplace.  You do have the option of installing a DEFRA Approved stove in your fireplace which would then allow you to burn wood if you so wish.

Liner types

Some liners can be damaged by certain fuels, the following chart shows the most common liner types and the fuels that can be burned on them.

Liner type Fuel that can be burned
Stainless steel grade 316 liner Seasoned wood, kiln dried wood, house coal only
Stainless steel grade 904 liner Seasoned wood, kiln dried wood, house coal and smokeless coal
Unlined chimney – brick and mortar Seasoned wood, kiln dried wood, house coal and smokeless coal
Clay lined chimney Seasoned wood, kiln dried wood, house coal and smokeless coal
Eldfast liner Seasoned wood, kiln dried wood, house coal and smokeless coal

If you’re looking for further information specific to appliance types, check out our following articles:

 

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Registered in the UK # 7725 203
VAT # 218 3459 04