We love wood. We love the smell of it, the magical lightness of a well-dried piece of timber, the way it crackles when it burns. We love the satisfying sound of a good, sharp axe splitting a log, and the sense of wellbeing that comes from a well-stocked woodpile. We think about wood the way some people think about good coffee, and we're always on the lookout for new and efficient ways to keep ourselves warm with our favourite type of fuel.
A few years ago we came across the stuff we like to call eco fuel: pure wood shavings and nothing else, dried and pressed into 'logs' of varying sizes. Our interest was piqued immediately: usually these eco logs are made up with wood that's a waste product and would ordinarily go to landfill, so it ticks the eco-friendly box in a big way. Added to this, finding compact logs that still pack a punch was another win.
Since then we've tried a lot of different kinds of eco fuel in our stoves, and our current eco fuel is the best we've ever tried. Some leave horrendous amounts of ash in the stove (we're looking at you, miscanthus grass), and some expand when they burn, which can be dangerous if the stove is packed too tightly with fuel. Some take forever to catch light and end up smoking you out while you try to build your fire. We can now safely say that we've found the best eco fuel out there: it's efficient, it burns hot and it's really easy to use. If that's not enough for you, here are some more of the benefits of eco fuel:
- This fuel is incredibly clean-burning, so it won't clog up your flue. This makes it a great fuel to use with the Frontier, as the narrow 60mm flue can be prone to getting blocked if you're burning wet or resinous wood.
- It produces almost no ash, which means you (or your guests) don't need to clean out the stove every day. This is especially handy in a small stove which would fill up with timber ash quickly.
- It's super-dry, with a moisture content of just 5% (normal kiln-dried logs are around 20% moisture).
- The logs are perfectly sized for small stoves with small doors, like the Shepherd or Traveller.
- It's consistent: you get the same quality and the same moisture content in every piece. Kiln-dried timber varies wildly in quality depending on where it's come from, so it's hard to guarantee you're getting great fuel every time.
Why does moisture content matter?
When you burn wood, the moisture in the timber needs to be evaporated before the wood can be combusted. This means that when you add it to the fire, a lot of the fire's energy is used up in evaporating the water. This means less heat is being radiated into your space to keep you warm: it's inefficient, and means you need to use more fuel for the same amount of heat output. If you pay for your timber by weight, if the wood isn't incredibly dry you're just paying for water, which won't keep you warm when it burns.
Burning really dry wood is better for the planet and easier on your wallet, so the lower the moisture content, the better.
But I already have logs!
If you have a good supply of logs, either from your own woodland or a generous neighbour, then eco fuel is probably not the most economical choice for you; although they can be a great way to supplement wood that isn't quite dried yet. **Update: be sure to be clued up about the recent legislation on the government's move towards clean air and cleaner fuel**
Our eco logs burn very hot - almost like coal - and will keep a fire in for a long time, which is especially useful if you're keeping an off-grid space cosy and you need the fire to stay in through the night. Some people like to burn a mixture of coal and timber to keep their fire going longer, and eco fuel can be used in place of coal for this purpose.
The whole package
To go with our eco super fuel, we sourced some great natural firelighters made from wood shavings, which smell lovely (no nasty chemical smell) and are really easy to light, and good quality kiln-dried kindling to help you build the perfect fire. If you want to give our amazing eco fuel a go, try our 7 Day Eco Fuel Box, which comes with enough eco fuel, kiln-dried kindling and natural firelighters for a week of cosy fires.
Remember, all our stoves come with a free eco fuel starter kit, so you can try our fuel for free and decide if you like it.