Particulate matter pollution from different solid fuels:
|Low sulphur coal|
Burning household waste in a wood burner or on bonfire is illegal. Garden waste should be composted or collected by your local council, as most garden waste will not be dry and will burn with a lot of smoke. Be considerate to your neighbours and community when lighting bonfires, outdoor burners and BBQs and take care not to cause a smoke nuisance.
Do not burn wood treated with varnish, paint, creosote, glue etc. such as garden fences, laminates, skirting boards, pallets, furniture; don’t burn oil/synthetic rubber or plastics and avoid burning firelighters. Burning treated wood and household waste will create harmful fumes and toxic pollutants, such as arsenic.
If you burn house coal, use DEFRA authorised smokeless solid fuels instead, which will produce less air pollution and burn more efficiently, reducing your heating costs. If you live in a Smoke Control Area you can only burn authorised smokeless fuels on DEFRA exempted appliances, or face a fine of up to £1,000.
Buy wood from a trusted local, sustainable and managed source, to reduce the environmental impact. If you want to burn the wood straightaway without seasoning, look for the ‘Ready to Burn’ logo, which indicates good quality dry wood. Find Woodsure Ready to Burn suppliers. Wood should not be too large, as using large logs can produce a lower burning temperature, waste fuel and more air pollution. Logs that are 13cm or 5 inches wide are the ideal size.
Wet, green, freshly cut wood must be seasoned before burning. Depending on size and moisture content wood should be seasoned for a minimum of 6-12 months, and ideally 2 years. Burning unseasoned wood increases air pollution and can damage your wood burner and chimney.
Dry wood should have a moisture content of 20% or less; this can be tested with a moisture meter. If you want to test the moisture content of your wood, the most accurate reading comes from splitting the log and testing the split surface. Wet wood creates smoke and particulate air pollution, which has health impacts, can damage your wood burner and chimney and heats your home less efficiently.
Wood should be stored off the ground, with air flow and rain cover. Cutting and splitting logs is easier when it is green and this increases the surface area so it will dry faster. It’s best to stack wood to allow air flow rather than heaping into a pile, and log stores should have open sides and a roof to protect from wet weather.