Optimal heating

It is useful to know something about the materials when one wants to exploit the potential of various fuels to the full.

As a rule, any untreated piece of wood can be used as fuel for fireplaces and stoves. But there are differences, however. At first sight, the calorific values of pine wood and hardwood are not far apart. But if the calorific values are measured by volume, the energy density is very much higher for hardwood. It therefore needs far less storage space. Soft woods like spruce and pinewood burn faster and are therefore ideal as kindling. For slow combustion, beech and oak wood are recommended. By the way, the most beautiful flames are produced by ash wood.

Optimal purchase

If you buy your firewood in a store, you will get high quality wood all ready for burning. However, it costs less to buy wood from independent merchants, and, naturally, nothing at all if you are licensed to collect your own wood in the forest. This can be a pleasant pastime as well.

Optimal storage

One factor with a substantial influence on the calorific value of wood is moisture. This means that it is extremely important to dry the wood. Wood dealers should be able to state the exact moisture content. Appropriate measuring instruments are available for only a few euros and are useful for end-consumers too. Firewood must be stored for at least two years in a protected but airy place until its moisture content has dropped to under 20%. Pellets have a moisture content of under 10% which must not be exceeded either.

Optimal heating with log fireplaces

Fireplaces and stoves are continuously supplied with small quantities of wood once a fire bed appears. In a fireplace, a fire needs preparation. First a small quantity of an easily combustible type of wood is stacked in place and kindled. At this stage, the fire often still needs support. In most cases it needs more air which later must be gradually reduced once the fire becomes more vigorous. Depending on the type of wood, the grate shaker should be used occasionally to ensure an optimum draft at all times.

Optimal alternatives

Modern pellet stoves are an alternative to log fireplaces, especially where it is difficult or impossible to store wood. Standardized pellets made of compacted wood chips can be easily and neatly transported. The use of pellet ovens is a very recent development. Many have won prestigious design awards. As well as being highly practical, they often make a striking centrepiece, especially with a distinctive high-quality ceramic glass panel.