Why you shouldn’t burn wet wood

There has been a lot in the media over the past few weeks about wet wood. But what is wet wood and why shouldn’t you burn it?

What is wet wood?

Wet wood is wood with a moisture content of above 20%.

Initially when a tree is felled it usually has a moisture content of around 50-60%, and therefore it is not suitable to burn. Through air drying over several years or kiln drying the woods moisture content is reduced. When it gets to below 20% it is classified as dry and ready to burn with maximum efficiency.

While the moisture content of the wood is usually tested with a moisture meter a more basic, rule of thumb test, is to check the noise made when you bang two logs together. When two pieces of wet wood are banged together, they make a thud sound. When two dry pieces of wood are are hit together, they make a hollow sound.

Why shouldn’t you burn wet wood?

You might be tempted by a ‘cheap’ bag of logs from the garage forecourt or a discount store, but these more often than not contain wet wood. While it may seem cheaper, buying wet wood is a false economy as not only are you likely to end up highly frustrated trying to get the logs to light, when you do finally get them going so much of the energy produced by burning will be used to remove the moisture that very little heat will be emitted. You will end up using more wood to try and generate heat, and more often than not your fire will end up just pittering out.

Not only is burning wet wood not efficient, it also can damage your stove and/or chimney. When burnt wet wood releases more ‘nasties’ which build up on your stove and chimney, leading to more visits from the chimney sweep and if left to build up they can lead to chimney fires. Chimney sweeps will always recommend burning dry wood.

Wet wood is also not great for the environment as it releases more pollutants into the environment when burnt than dry wood, this is why the UK Government has banned its sale from next year.

Are Edinburgh Wood Fuel logs dry?

Yes. All our logs have a moisture content of 20% of less. We use a combination of air drying over several years and kiln drying to ensure our logs are dry and ready for our customers to burn with maximum efficiency.