BLOG - 14/12/18

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We often get asked about the types of fuel we sell and where it’s best to use them, so we thought this week we’d run through the various coals and firewoods we have, just so you know what’s what.

Customers have very different fuel requirements, whether it’s a coal-fired boiler heating both water and the home, or a wood burning stove in the corner of the lounge. Each has its own requirements - some statutory, some purely preference. So, here goes…

FIRELIGHTERS

We have two types: ‘Flamers’ Natural (renewable, untreated wood shavings dipped in refined paraffin wax),  and Homefire’s own (kerosene/petroleum-based gel-blocks). Both work well for all fire lighting purposes, so really it’s just a personal preference.

KINDLING

Again, we have two types, essentially a bag or a box! Both are kiln-dried, so they both catch fire well. The bag is a mix of species of softwoods. The box contains sticks of Poplar - the timber of choice for match manufacturers. The box costs a few pence more - for that you get more uniformly cut sticks and single species timber. Both work well for any firelighting situation - from barbecue to boiler, so it’s really up to you.

FIREWOOD

When timber is first felled, it can be up to 60% moisture, which is ridiculously inefficient to burn (you’d mostly be generating steam!). Thereafter, it’s processed in one of a couple of different ways to get the moisture content down and make it burn more efficiently:

SEASONED

These logs are a mix of species - naturally air-dried, usually over time in a heated warehouse, to get the moisture content down to acceptable burning levels. Tested today ours were at around 24%. They burn really well when used in conjunction with coal in open fires. They can also be used in multi-fuel burners and boilers. However, in Smoke Control Zones (Waltham Forest, for example), they shouldn’t be used in DeFRA-approved wood burning stoves. These are really efficient units that burn off many of the gases and other emissions from timber, before releasing what’s left from their burning chamber into the flue (chimney). That said, if the timber is not sufficiently pre-processed, the stove won’t clean up the timber’s emissions to the extent required. This type of modern wood burner should only, therefore, burn very low moisture logs. Which brings us on to:

KILN-DRIED

These have been dried in what is essentially a huge oven until their moisture content is below 20% - this being the key figure. 20% or more and companies cannot legally call their product “kiln-dried” (even though it may have been!). Usually packaged in plastic instead of netting, they are ideal for wood burners and multi-fuel stoves - especially DeFRA-approved models. Ours are currently averaging around 14% moisture. Usually Beech and Birch.

OLIVE FIREWOOD

Although not kiln-dried, this sustainably sourced timber from Egypt and Spain is incredibly dense and is kept very dry throughout its transportation, packaging and storage processes. That means that it has very low moisture - often lower than actual kiln-dried. This morning, ours was at around 12%. It burns for a really long time, in comparison with kiln-dried, so is incredibly cost-effective. It also creates a wonderful aroma. Their density means they aren’t so easy to light from the get-go, so we recommend starting your fire with kiln-dried or coal, and then - when it’s going nicely - switch to the Olive Wood. It costs a bit more than kiln-dried, but we’ve tested it extensively in a wood burning stove and reckon you’ll use around 30% fewer logs over the course of an evening.

COAL

If you have an open fireplace or multi-fuel burner, there are really just three types of coal that’ll generally be of interest to you - Homefire ‘Smokeless’, Homefire ‘Ecoal Smokeless’ and CPL ‘Traditional House Coal’.

HOMEFIRE ‘SMOKELESS’

Gives out over 30% more heat and lasts over 30% longer than house coal, while at the same time emitting up to 80% less smoke and 25% less CO2, making it kinder to the environment too. Authorised for use in Smoke Control Zones, this coal has a very long fire life and creates an attractive looking flame. It’s pretty easy to light and burns efficiently, so it doesn’t produce much ash. This is our most popular coal product.

HOMEFIRE ‘ECOAL SMOKELESS’

This coal is made with up to 50% renewable materials, burns up to 38% hotter than traditional house coal and produces up to 80% less smoke and 40% less CO2, so it’s an excellent choice in terms of the environment. Also authorised for use in Smoke Control Zones, it is easy to light and burns for a long time.

CPL ‘TRADITIONAL HOUSE COAL’

One of the most popular fuels for open fires and some other coal burning appliances (boilers, for example). Easy to light, it burns with a long and strong flame, and has a low ash content, making it easy to clean up after each use. Note, however, that this product is NOT suitable for burning in Smoke Control Zones. The 25kg bags have slightly larger pieces than the 10kg.

OTHER COAL

PHURNACITE SMOKELESS

Regarded as the number one smokeless fuel for cookers, room heaters, and stoves. Manufactured for over 50 years, Phurnacite remains the country's first choice of high performance smokeless fuel. The clean-burning briquettes pack together into a tight fire bed that gives a long lasting, consistent, and controllable heat. In the right conditions, Phurnacite will burn for up to 18 hours.

TAYBRITE SMOKELESS

Taybrite is an adaptable, multi-purpose smokeless fuel for use in a wide range of appliances, including open fires, room heaters, multi-fuel stoves, and boilers It’s easy to light and burns cleanly, with excellent heat output. Taybrite represents excellent value for money and is approved for use in Smoke Control Zones.

ANTHRACITE BEANS

Welsh Anthracite Beans are a naturally occurring, deep mined smokeless fuel. Ideal for use in solid fuel appliances such as gravity feed boilers.

Anthracite is a long-lasting fuel which burns with a low, intense flame, and produces very little ash. They are a reliable solid fuel, giving off a uniform flame at consistently high temperatures - they’re also pretty easy to clean up after. Approved for use in Smoke Control Zones.

ANTHRACITE GRAINS

Smaller pieces than Anthracite Beans, Anthracite Grains have a consistent size and quality. A naturally smokeless product, it’s a long lasting, low flame, low ash product that’s ideal for gravity fed and hopper fed boilers. Suitable for burning in Smoke Control Zones.

ANTHRACITE LARGE & SMALL NUTS

Again, a naturally smokeless fuel, this time ideal for use in cookers, boilers, and other closed appliances. They pack together tightly to create an intense, long-lasting fire bed.They burn with a high heat and low flame, and leave little ash behind. Again, suitable for use in Smoke Control Zones.

BRAZIER SMOKELESS

Brazier is an economy smokeless coal, recommended for use on all types of open fires and multi-fuel stoves. They’re made from the same materials as our 25kg Homefire Smokeless, but come in smaller pieces, so they’re perfect if you have a small grate or stove (on a boat, for example). Also authorised for use in Smoke Control Zones.

HEAT LOGS AND BRIQUETTES

SNUG-A-FIRE PEAT BRIQUETTE (BALE)

These peat briquettes are made from 100% natural materials with no additives. A traditional fuel, perfect for use on open fires and multi fuel stoves. They create a real roaring fire, with that lovely aroma, reminiscent of Irish peat fires (if you’ve ever sat in a village pub in winter in Ireland, you’ll probably know what we mean!). Not authorised for use in Smoke Control Zones.

HOMEFIRE HEAT LOGS (SHIMADA)*

These are a relatively new product to the market. They offer a fantastic alternative to standard kiln-dried firewood. Made from 100% compressed recycled wood, with no additives or chemicals, they’re ideal for wood burners, multi-fuel stoves, open fires, chimeneas and fire pits. Extremely low moisture (ours are currently at around 1-2%), they produce a really attractive, high energy flame and are very easy to light. Authorised for use in Smoke Control Zones.

*No - we have no idea what ‘Shimada’ means either…

HOMEFIRE 'INSTANT LIGHT' FIRE LOG

As the name suggests, these are a brilliant 'log in a bag’. You just light the bag for a smokeless, odourless fire which burns for 2-3 hours (just like the ‘instant light’ bags of barbecue charcoal).

You don’t need  kindling or firelighters if you’re using these - and they’re pretty efficient, so there won’t be much ash left when you’re done. Use them on their own, or to help get your wood burning, multi-fuel or coal fire started. Suitable for use in Smoke Control Zones.

Next week, we’ll be back to gardening advice!

As ever, if you have any questions, please do get in touch.

The Lancasters Team

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