Common mistakes to avoid for optimal burning

Why is optimal burning important?

For those who are eco-conscious but depend on a wood burner or solid fuel appliance, choosing the right fuel is essential. It is important you make an informed decision for the safety of your property and for the health of your family. The consequences of burning the wrong fuel can be nothing short of catastrophic should a fire break out, or can equally result in hefty fines.

Not only that but burning the wrong fuel can have a detrimental effect on the environment. The increased emissions from wet wood, and the toxins released from treated or painted wood have a huge impact on the environment and air quality around us.

In fact, there have been several instances of fines being issued for the burning of illegal fuels. Including, one Gloucestershire man who was fined £330 after admitting to burning treated wood in his home.

What common mistakes should you avoid?

There are steps you can take to proactively mitigate the potential hazards and ensure a safer environment for both your home and loved ones…

  1. Don’t Burn Wet Wood

When wood with a moisture content higher than 20% is burned, up to five times more emissions are released. This is especially important for those in living in a Smoke Control Area, as fines can be incurred. You should look out for the Ready to Burn certification mark to ensure your fuel is dry and ready to use.

  1. Avoid Putting Cardboard on the Fire

Despite the seemingly tempting nature of burning easily combustible materials like cardboard and paper, it is crucial to refrain from doing so. The act of tossing paper and cardboard into the fire can have undesirable consequences. These materials can generate copious amounts of smoke, leading to potentially detrimental effects such as chimney blockages and significant damage that can incur substantial costs.

  1. Give Painted or Treated Wood a Miss

Wood that has been painted or treated should be avoided at all costs. This includes those offcuts and unwanted pallets you’ve been trying to find a use for. Keep those for a DIY project, but never throw them on the fire.  When heated up and set alight, the chemicals in the paint, treatment or wood preserver can be released, resulting in toxic fumes being emitted into the environment and the home. This can be dangerous for all, but especially those with compromised respiratory systems.

  1. Steer Clear from Coal

In May 2023, the sale of traditional house coal was banned in England. As coal is one of the most polluting fuels that can be burned in the home. It is vital therefore to steer clear of this harmful fossil fuel. Again, don’t forget to look for the Ready to Burn certification mark to help find a suitable and more sustainable alternative. Approved smokeless fuels will also feature the certification mark.

  1. Never Throw Rubbish on the Flames

Only suitable and legal fuel should be used in your appliance. You should not use it as a makeshift incinerator for any household rubbish or debris that needs to be disposed of. Burning items that have not been certified and could contain a mix of chemicals and materials can be very dangerous for all involved, or even those living close by.

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


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