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Understand the new Clean Air Strategy rules

We interrupt your usual Big K blog based BBQ programming with this special update. In conjunction with the government’s Clean Air Strategy, new restrictions on the sale of coal, wet wood and manufactured solid fuels for home burning have come into force from 1st May.

Across the UK, the air that we breathe is clearer now than it has ever been. Travel back in time with our blog about the great London smog for a little background context. However we still face many challenges when it comes to improving air quality. These new rules are another important step on the journey to happier and healthier lives for us all.


some kiln dried wood is chopped in a pile


What’s changed?

You may have seen some misleading click bait headlines out there in the digital ether. So let us bring you the facts. From now on:

  • Sales of bagged traditional house coal and wet wood (wood with an internal moisture level of +20%) in units under 2m3 are now unlawful to the retail trade and domestic user
  • Wet wood in larger volumes must be sold with advice on how to dry it before burning.
  • All manufactured solid fuels must now have a low sulphur content and only emit a small amount of smoke.
  • In addition, a new Ready To Burn certification scheme will see products certified and labelled by suppliers to ensure that they can be easily identified, and retail outlets will only able to sell fuel that is accompanied by the correct label.


What does this mean for me? Can I still use my log burner and fireplace?

Before you chain yourself to your log burner in protest, or start looking for the nearest skip with tears in your eyes, take it easy. Of course you can still use your log burner and fireplace. The government recognises these sources of heat as the heart of many a home. You simply are required to use cleaner alternative fuels such as kiln dried wood, heat logs and smokeless coal. All of these options, due to their lower internal moisture content, produce less smoke. This is the aim of the Clean Air Strategy. Defra backs up this fact indicating that burning dry wood produces more heat and less soot than wet wood, reducing smoke and emissions by up to a whopping 50%. Basically a cleaner and more efficient burn is kinder on both the planet and your wallet.

We’re big on clarity here at Big K and we know that important points can sometimes be lost in paragraphs. That’s why we have knocked up this simple question and answer table to make everything clearer than a morning drop of dew.


Stacks of dried wood are piled high with an axe in the foreground


What’s the difference between wet wood and dry wood?

The terminology spells things out pretty obviously. Wet wood AKA green or unseasoned wood, is basically just wood with an internal moisture level of 30% plus. When wet wood is burned, the increased moisture creates more smoke and emissions during combustion than dry wood. Moving on: dry wood, also known as seasoned wood and kiln dried wood, is wood that has undergone a drying process of some kind to reduce internal moisture levels. Seasoned wood is wood that has dried in natural environmental conditions over a long period of time, usually producing an internal moisture level of between 20% and 30%. Kiln dried wood is wood that has been dried in an artificial environment within a kiln, delivering internal moisture levels of 20% or less.


So just to be super clear, are they banning wood burning stoves?

Do not fret Big K Fam. The answer to this question is a resounding no. When it comes to wood burning stoves and log burners, the long-term objective is simply to eradicate the use and installation of the poor performing ones.


Will I still be able to burn wood?

This is a definite affirmative yes. The principal aim of the new Clean Air Strategy regulations is to eliminate the burning of wet wood and fuels with higher emission percentages.


What about the logs I have now? Can I use those this coming winter?

Again this is a gargantuan yes. If you have any wet wood purchased before 1st May 2021, you are allowed to burn it at your discretion. However you cannot purchase any wet wood moving forward.


Our wood and smokeless coal meet the new Clean Air Strategy requirements.

At Big K we like to be ahead of the curve. We’re not saying this out of ego; rather we believe that foresight is a necessity – especially in a challenging industry like ours. That being said, we’ve been selling wood, heat logs, instant light logs and smokeless coal that already meet the new Clean Air regulations, so it’s business as usual for us. Perhaps you are not so familiar with our heating range? Or maybe you need a little refresher? Join us for a quick overview of our hardworking heating options.


 Kiln Dried Hardwood Logs FSC® grown in Britain

If you’re looking for a cleaner and more consistent burn from a renewable wood fuel, then we definitely suggest that you get up close and personal with these dry characters. All of our Kiln Dried Hardwood Logs FSC® are 100% grown in Britain with dependable and consistent internal moisture levels of under 20% The low moisture levels makes the heating as drier wood is easier to light, producing a high and long heat out put with less smoke and a cleaner flame. But this is just the tip of the nice-berg. Every Kiln Dried Log is FSC certified and Woodsure Ready to burn accredited, so you can relax knowing that you are complying with regulations and making a small step to help the environment too!

Compressed Saw Dust Heat Logs,
Human ingenuity delivers all kinds of amazing creations. We think our Compressed Saw Dust Heat Logs are one such example. These 100% natural compressed heat logs are highly sustainable as they are derived from by-products of managed forests and recycled wood. And as a bonus they contain no additives or binders either. Every log is perfect for open fires, stoves and log burners, leaving little ash so clean up is a breeze. The cherry on top? A magnificently low moisture content of sub 8% so you’re well under the new Clean Air Strategy threshold with these bad boys.


Instant Light Fire Logs

What if we told you could enjoy start and enjoy a roaring fire with just one match – and burn a log that meets the new wood fuel regulations? This isn’t some log based utopian fantasy. Introducing our Instant Light Fire Logs and Instant Light Crackle logs. Both of these hassle free options are made from recycled sawdust and wax, burning for about two hours each. All you need to do is light the wrapper and let the Instant Logs do their thing. They are authorised for use in smoke control areas and perform magnificently in open fires, fire pits and bonfires. The difference between the two choices? Instant Light Crackle logs recreate the sonic snap and pop of a conventional log fire.


Smokeless Coal

Traditional Coal is out of the picture. Smokeless coal is the way now. Big K Smokeless coal is fully authorised for use in smoke control areas and is well beneath the new emission limits set by the changes to the Clean Air Strategy. Whether you are using an open fire or coal burning cooker, room heater, or a multi-fuel stove, you will experience 80% less smoke than traditional coal, as well as a 5-6 hour burns time. To summarise our smokeless coal is efficient, cost effective, and more environmentally friendly than traditional house coal, due to its lower carbon emissions. Job done.


Low moisture wood is chopped and organised in a pile.


We do hope that we’ve brought you up to speed with the new Clean Air Strategy regulations and what these changes could mean for you. We’re always here to help, so if you have any questions please feel free to contact us on social media or email at [email protected]. Finally we have left you a little table with a product authorisation breakdown for quick reference.

Are things clearer now?


Product Product Code Defra Certification Authorised in smokeless zone
Instant Light Crackle log LGWCR Ready To Burn Authorised to use in any appliance
Firelog LGW10 Ready To Burn Authorised to use in any appliance
Kiln Dried Logs LG01KD Ready To Burn Authorised to use in Defra approved appliances only
Heatlogs LGEHAT Ready To Burn Authorised to use in Defra approved appliances only
Smokless Coal SCF10 Ready To Burn Authorised to use in any appliance