Are you using appropriate fuel for your log burner?

The environmental impact of wood-burning stoves has been a much-debated topic in recent months and the governments recently published Environmental Improvement Plan has confirmed that domestic burning (including wood and multi fuel stoves) will not be banned. 

As a leading biomass and solid fuel heating organisation, HETAS support cleaner and safer choices in reducing the impact wood burning has on air quality – especially while solid fuel remains a vital heating solution for countless households in reducing their energy costs. This month The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Public Attitudes Tracker for winter 2022 that looks at Heat and Energy in the Home, identified a shift in behaviour from the traditional method of heating a larger space to targeting smaller spaces, with an increase in those choosing solid fuel heating.

If you use a solid fuel appliance it’s important to ensure you are using an appropriate fuel for your stove. Unwanted pallets that are no longer in use can be a great source of recycled wood for your home DIY projects. We are occasionally asked if pallets are suitable for burning in your stove. Here’s our take on burning different types of wood such as pallets. 

It is always worth checking the manufacturer’s instructions on what fuels are the most appropriate for your stove. HETAS would always recommend you burn the best fuel available to you, choosing fuels that have been tested and certified. Don’t be tempted to burn scrap wood i.e. old fence panels, pallets, etc; these may have been treated with wood preserver when they were made, which can give off harmful fumes when burnt in any kind of volume.  

Some wood pallets are treated with chemicals when manufactured, which can be toxic if burnt. Check for marks or stamps on the long sides of the pallet. Markings to look out for include MB, which means the pallet wood has been treated with Methyl Bromide. This is harmful to humans and the pallets can release toxic fumes if used as firewood. Pallets will also contain nails which shouldn’t be finding their way into your stove. 

Recent enforcement 

After residents complained of a “pungent and acrid” smell in Gloucestershire, a man had been issued a £330 fine after admitting to burning treated wood in his home. The man pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an abatement notice issued under Section 80 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and owned up to burning wood which had been treated with chemicals. 

The Gloucestershire resident was burning the waste wood for the provision of heating and hot water – but the wood contained toxic chemicals such as paints and creosote which give off emissions that are extremely toxic to humans, animals and the environment. He was initially served with an abatement notice requiring him to stop burning the waste wood on 22 August 2022, after a local resident contacted the council’s environmental health officers to report a particularly pungent and acrid smell coming from the property. 

After a further complaint was made to the environmental health team on 23 September 2022, the resident was found to have breached the notice and enforcement proceedings began, leading to a fine of £200 as well as being ordered to pay £50 towards prosecution costs and a Victim Surcharge of £80. 

We want to ensure you are not only using the right fuels but reducing your environmental impact from domestic burning and avoiding any breaches of legislation. For stove users there are several regulations that impact your choice on burning wood and solid fuels. 

Finding the right fuels for your stove

Our top tips for choosing the right fuels. 

  1. When buying firewood or briquettes for immediate use, look for the Ready to Burn certification mark. These fuels will have a moisture content of no more than 20%. Wood sold in volumes up to two cubic metres in England must be Ready to Burn certified. This scheme is administered by Woodsure 
  2. If you are sourcing your own firewood or buying in bulk (over 2 cubic metres) please ensure you have suitable means to dry the firewood until it is seasoned and ready to use. 
  3. If you burn manufactured smokeless fuels, check the Defra Authorised Fuels list for an appropriate fuel.

All sales of traditional house coal will be banned in England from 1 May 2023. 

If you’re still using house coal (also known as bituminous coal) to fuel your stove or open fire, it’s time to prepare and choose an alternative by 1 May 2023, as it will be illegal for businesses, including Approved Coal Merchants, to sell house coal for domestic burning in England. The Air Quality (Domestic Solid Fuels Standards) (England) Regulations 2020 outlaw the sale of wet wood and house coal as the most polluting fuels. 


Learn more about the upcoming ban on house coal. 

The HETAS Advice Hub has a range of tips and advice to ensure you get the most out of your stove. 


HETAS, Severn House, Unit 5 Newtown Trading Estate, Green Lane, Tewkesbury, GL20 8HD