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How to light an environmentally friendly log fire

Wood burners, open fires and the environment. What exactly is the score with that? The environmental impact of wood burning dips in and out of headlines – but the often unbalanced reports certainly haven’t thwarted sales of wood burning stoves. In fact, 200,000 new wood burning stoves are installed every year in the UK alone. That’s on top of the estimated one million UK households which already have wood burning stoves or open fires already in place.

Even though wood is a renewable and carbon neutral resource the environmental impact of wood burning continues to come under greater scrutiny. So it begs a simple question:


Is it actually possible to light an eco-friendly fire?


Well, you’ll be pleased to hear the answer is YES – but you can only light an environmentally-friendly fire if you follow these simple steps:

Woodsure Ready To Burn logo

Be certain your wood is ready to burn.

Always burn wood that is ready to burn with a moisture content of 20% or less. Anything more not only emits harmful particulates into the environment but also creates creosote build-up in your chimney – which if left untreated can lead to chimney fires.

Our firewood is accredited by the Woodsure Ready To Burn scheme – which has audited and verified our firewood logs as being ready to burn, sustainably sourced, with a moisture content below 20%.

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Avoid burning waste wood and household rubbish.

While it’s tempting to throw any old piece of wood or even the odd crisp packet onto the fire please be warned that doing so is harmful to the environment. Treated wood waste can emit environmentally damaging fumes and household rubbish can release toxic pollutants, such as arsenic, into your home when burned.



Chimney sweep

Sweep your chimney at least once a year.

Even if you burn the driest and cleanest firewood HETAS still advises that you get your chimney swept at least once a year. Particulates from your fire build up in your chimney, and if left untreated, can become polluting and raise the risk of chimney fires.

Visit the HETAS website and look for approved chimney sweeps in your area.



Only light a log fire when you need to

Only light your fire when you need to.

Obvious really, but if your home is already warm enough, ask yourself if you really need to light your fire. The simplest way to reduce your environmental impact from wood burning is to burn less.




A log fire is only as efficient as the wood you use to light it with!

The key to lighting an environmentally friendly fire is to always burn clean ready to burn firewood from a reputable retailer that’s under 20% moisture content. No matter how eco-friendly your wood stove is it can only ever be as efficient as the wood you use to light your fire with.

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  1. SteveLast

    As a Shrewsbury resident I am considering whether to have a wood fire would be possible without adding to the considerable smell of wood smoke on cold “still-air days” in my street. I like your tip to always burn wood that is ready to burn with a moisture content of 20% or less. Would that mean my neighbours would not be aware of my wood fire? Many thanks.

    • Sarah

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your message. The Government has published rules about burning in smoke control areas so we suggest you follow this guidance to be sure you’re burning legally.

      Wood is not specifically listed as a smokeless fuel but if you have a DEFRA certified stove (also known as an exempt appliance) good quality dry wood that has a moisture content of below 20% can be used safely.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Adam Humphrey

    Hi Sarah

    I came across your article while researching for an article I want to write on alternative solutions to the ban on traditional house coal and small unit wet wood being implemented next year.

    I was interested to hear if you feel this article you have written would be relative to that ban as my understanding is the ban is more based on the dangers to humans but could be assisted with an environmental friendly fire?

    • Sarah

      Hi Adam,

      Thanks for your message. So the sale of wet wood is going to be banned because burning wet wood increases emissions and has a much greater impact on air quality. Burning wet wood creates more smoke and emissions which are not good for anyone breathing them in. Appliances are also generally dirtier when burning wet wood, and as a result, you’ll have to buy even more wood to keep you warm. So the point we’re making is that whilst wet wood might be cheaper at the point of purchase it is actually false economy because more logs are required to deliver the outcome required – which is heat.

      I’m sure the Woodsure and Ready To Burn teams would also assist you as they have all the facts and figures to show how logs that are dried with a moisture content of 20% or below reduce environmental impact considerably by improving efficiency and significantly lowering emissions. Here are their websites: and

      Hope this helps,


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