Environmentally friendly firewood

Do you really know where your wood fuel comes from?

Is kiln dried firewood eco friendly?

Burning dry firewood for heat is a sustainable and clean way to heat your home. However, this is diminished and can be detrimental to the environment if you consider where the trees were, why they were felled, how the logs were processed and dried and mostly how they were moved from where they grew to your log store.

The vast majority of our firewood comes from tree surgery

Felling, transporting, processing, filtering, kiln drying then sorting fuelwood logs is dangerous and expensive. Then the finished product needs to be packaged and transported to your log store. If the starting point for this process is abroad (sometimes as far as Latvia and for charcoal it can even be Africa and South America) and the price is similar or cheaper than locally produced firewood and charcoal of the same quality, it should make you wonder what the environmental impact is.

With such high transportation costs and normally at least two middle men making a profit, how can imported firewood be so cheaply produced that it can warrant the same price as local produce?  Importers make a margin by buying very large loads in containers for retailing themselves and / or to smaller companies who simply repackage or resell the crates in their area. 

How to spot imported logs

Do a Google search for 'Firewood Latvia' or 'Firewood Lithuania' and you will see the familiar timber crates of excellently stacked logs, almost always Ash, Alder and Birch (common trees in Eastern Europe). These crates are nearly all imported via lorry, then a boat, then another lorry to the wholesaler, then another lorry to the retailer if they are not taking a full container load, then yet another van or lorry to your log store often with the retailer claiming all sorts of environmental benefits having simply repackaged the logs in a bag that will probably end up in landfill. it is also possible that your big shop or Amazon bought charcoal made its way all the way from a rainforest to cook your sausages.

Nothing against Latvia, Lithuania or the product, these logs are normally of excellent quality and value, especially when you consider the cost of this massive operation and the number of parties making a profit. However, you really cannot compare the carbon footprint of these products to firewood grown and processed locally. Imported logs also carry the risk of importing disease and and harmful tree pests for the sake of a cheap supply for a retailer.

What about British grown trees? 

Large UK producers use buying power and industrial capability to grow and grow, this squeezes our network of small fuelwood firms and forces the price of round logs up. They rely on vast amounts of fossil fuel for transport both for supply and delivery. They are also far more susceptible to events such as personnel shortages and pandemics.

Specialist logs and sawn timber are one thing but covering normal firewood in plastic and putting it on a deisel truck bound for the other end of the country or further? Also 'Grown in Britain' could mean the logs have travelled hundreds of miles to be processed, then travelled all the way back as a finished product in plastic packaging and / or log bags that cannot be returned for re-use. Buying these palletised logs encourages the decline of local producers who often employ people in small woodland industries.

We don't normally supply logs in builders/bulk bags because they can only be lifted into a garden or driveway, leaving the customer to hand ball them into a store (we do sometimes but our stock size is a half bag). Inevitably once the bag is nearly empty it gets dragged the rest of the way making holes in the bottom. We use the large type barrow bags (half a bulk bag) that can be kept by the customer in a garage, shed or even outside as they have a rain cover, we can then swap them like you would a glass milk bottle. We are still using barrow bags that are 4 or 5 years old, once they are done we still take them back to make sure they are properly disposed of for recycling.

Firewood logs barrow bags
Firewood being loaded into barrow bags, ideal for storing in a garage or shed


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Want to use our kiln?

We offer space in our kiln to companies and individuals who have firewood logs that they would like to dry. You can use the service even if you are going to sell the logs in the same area as us. This is ideal for tree surgeons who sell logs but don't have a lot of space for drying. The minimum quantity is one IBC crate, we have a tele handler in the yard to unload and reload for you. It costs £1 per hour and a typical cycle for part seasoned logs is 70 hours.

It is impossible to dry firewood in the UK naturally as well as you can in a proper firewood kiln (not a shipping container with a heater or dehumidifier in it). Seasoning is fine if it's done right but this really does take forever here and will only get the log to an average (not an outside surface reading) of around 20%. Nothing wrong with that but to supply a meaningful volume of seasoned firewood you would need enough storage for 2 or 3 seasons supply. Our kiln will take 3 month seasoned logs (25 to 35%) and using our own waste and a little electric dry the logs to a 16% average in less than a week.


Certification does not mean eco friendly

We are not a member of Woodsure or any of those schemes because it is very expensive and makes no difference to how we control our quality, our returning happy customers are all that matter to us. Most of these schemes are open to retailers who never see the trees their logs are made from and often don't even know which country they grew in, all it does in theory is stop people selling wet logs which a customer can easily check for themselves if they don't trust the supplier.

We welcome prospective new customers to our facility to check before they buy our firewood, and believe there should be a free government scheme to enforce firewood standards (including a point of origin more accurate than 'Britain'). The current system favours high volume producers and retailers who use these schemes as a sales tool and ignore the mileage they are responsible for and the plastic they use.

Not everyone can afford the investment in a kiln so we rent out space in our kiln for small companies in our area that want to kiln dry their logs for sale in the same local area. You can use the service if you have your own logs for personal use or for resale. Please get in touch for details or have a look at our services section. It costs £1 per hour to put an IBC crate in our kiln.

Give local producers a chance

Being 'small' and not constantly looking for unending growth does not mean an inferior product, often quite the opposite. A small scale sawmill or wood fuel producer can sit in harmony with the timber growth in their local area and supply a great number of homes with an environmentally friendly, high quality product.

There are a lot of decent small scale kiln dried firewood and charcoal producers and retailers in the UK, and the imported product is often good quality. However, we would encourage anyone to find out how far their firewood has really travelled and how it was produced before they buy it, we think it matters.

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There are kilns and there are kilns

For charcoal especially, but also firewood, it is very important that drying takes place in a modern biomass and / or solar powered / electric (sometimes) kiln for it to be genuinely environmentally friendly. Under-dried firewood is bad for your appliance, bad for the environment and you will get less heat which is obviously the whole point of buying it. Under cooked charcoal weighs more (thats why it is often sold by the kilo) and releases greenhouse gas and smokes / flames when in use. Airflow and heat is the key but the fuel used is also very important, we kiln dry all the rubbish that processing creates, this means the heat we produce is clean and sustainable, our burner is certified for use in a smokeless zone. Some kilns use deisel or gas to dry your 'eco friendly' logs and some are no more than a container with a dehumidifier or heater, these do not achieve anything like the required penetration.