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World of Wood Series Part 1 – A profile of hardwood logs

The world is home to over 60,000 tree species. Their story is deeply intertwined with ours. On the most fundamental level these ascending marvels maintain the purity of our atmosphere. In a miracle of photosynthesis trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, producing lovely oxygen for us all to breathe.  Trees have also provided man with tools, shelter and of course heat. The latter purpose has been integral to our very survival over thousands of years. As the cold grasp of winter pulls on your lapels, we’d like to take some time to explore the wonderful world of wood fuel. Hardwood logs, softwood logs, kiln dried hardwood logs, seasoned; each wood has its own capabilities and characteristics. Over the next few months we will be giving you the wood-based lowdown so you can make smarter firewood choices. First up – hardwood logs.

 

To us responsibility is everything

Before we dive into hardwood logs we want to make something clear – we take our position, ethics, and role within the wood fuel industry very seriously. We understand the challenges we face and most importantly we value the vital role of the tree population within the wider environmental context.  This is why we are members of, and aligned with, the key organisations that share the same philosophy and agenda.

 

The Forest Stewardship Council® – FSC®

The FSC promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. They particularly focus on setting the standards on forest products, along with certifying and labelling products as ‘eco-friendly’. We have been FSC certified since 1999 and, in fact, we were one of the first charcoal suppliers to register with their Chain of Custody scheme. Our certification number is TT-CoC-001015 and can be verified here

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification – PEFC

Keeping ahead of the curve is important to us. So we are one of the few PEFC registered wood fuel companies. This non-profit, non-governmental organisation promotes sustainable forest management through independent third party certification. We hope this partnership will lead to a widening of certified materials that we can integrate into our products.

Woodsure

We are proud to be an active member of the Woodsure scheme. Woodsure is the UK’s only wood fuel certification scheme, a not-for-profit organisation striving to raise the quality of the wood fuel industry. The initiative encourages companies to supply the end user low moisture wood only, which helps reduce emissions during burning. At the moment we have two registered products and we are working towards registering more over the coming years.

UK forests

The United Kingdom is our spiritual and literal home. So we want to support the UK forestry industry in any way we can. We do this by buying British timber for use in all our log products including our hardwood logs and kiln dried hardwood logs.

 

You can check out our full sustainable philosophy and methodology right here  if you want to get up to speed.

 

Hardwood logs burn brightly in a fireplace

 

What should you know about Hardwood logs? 

To break things down on a basic level, there are two main types of firewood logs; hardwood logs and softwood logs. Hardwood logs are derived from broad-leaved deciduous trees. Deciduous trees are basically trees that lose their leaves in the winter such as Ash, Beech, Birch or Oak. These trees are slow growing and as a consequence produce denser timber. The density in relation to burn is key. As hardwood logs are denser they create a hot and long lasting fire, often producing hot coals that emit heat for extended periods of time. In light of these facts, hardwood logs are perfectly suited for open fires, as well as overnight heating in a wood burner. Hardwood logs are also less resinous than softwood logs, meaning less tar in your flue and less potential damage to your flue’s performance.

Moving to hardwood’s softer cousin, softwood logs come from coniferous trees that are evergreen, meaning that they keep their scale-leaves or needles all year round. Think Larch, Spruce and Scots Pine. As these trees grow much faster (possessing a 25-30 year maturation process) they are lighter and less dense. The biology affects performance; meaning lighter logs produce quicker burning times as well as lower temperatures.

 

Hardwood logs versus softwood logs. What’s the deal?  

 

We have already elaborated above on the qualities of hardwood logs and softwood logs. However it’s always good to have a succinct tête-à-tête for comparison purposes. If you’re looking for longer and hotter fires from a smaller amount of wood, then hardwood logs are the way to go for sure. Softwoods produce a very aesthetically pleasing flame and crackle sound, however they burn very quickly and produce more smoke, so you will end up using a large amount of wood in a short period of time. When it comes to getting your fire going, hardwood logs are more difficult to light than softwood. For the hottest and most efficient fire, we’d recommend using some kindling  combined with hardwood logs. The resinous nature of the former allows for quick and easy lighting, producing heat and flame to help your hardwood logs catch.

 

Can I burn hardwood logs?

By using your Sherlock Holmes-esque powers of deduction, we hope you can determine that the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Wood burners, stoves, fire pits, fire places and open fires can all get the hardwood log treatment no worries at all.

 

How to burn hardwood logs?

It’s tempting to believe that you can just chuck on a load of logs, grab a matchbox and blast your fire into existence. However why not add some method behind the fire making? What we’re trying to say is that there’s a process to follow if you want the best results from your fire. Here are four quick steps.

 

  • Lay a base foundation for your fire using a few bits of loosely rolled or scrunched newspaper.
  • Add a generous handful of kindling, using smaller pieces first then a few larger ones afterwards. Lay the pieces in different directions rather than all the same way.
  • Now add your hardwood logs. Place your smaller logs first and end with the largest. Stack them on top of one another in an almost zigzag fashion, creating pockets of air between the logs to facilitate airflow and increase the potency of your burn.
  • Now light your paper balls, kick back and chill. The fire will take care of itself.

 

 

A quick minute on moisture

Different woods have different initial moisture content levels. This is usually determined by the tree species and where the tree grows. Before being turned into firewood, this wood has to be dried out – creating logs containing a 30% moisture level or less. Why? Well the higher the moisture content, the more energy is used up to boil and evaporate the water before burning, meaning less available energy for your actual fire. Picture smoky scenes plus a dirtier, colder and more sporadic burn. Back to the drying out process, there are two main processes. One is seasoning, which basically involves leaving wood in the open air, exposed to normal atmospheric conditions. This is quite a time consuming process and can take up to two years for some tree species. The second process is kiln drying. This involves placing wood within a chamber (kiln) where air circulation, relative humidity and temperature can be controlled. By changing the temperature inside the kiln, the moisture content of wood can be reduced to a target point. In summation you should only burn hardwood logs with a moisture content of 30% or less. The level is usually indicated on the product labelling. If you are still unsure, simply bang two logs together. If you hear a higher pitched and brighter ‘clank’ rather than a dull and lower pitched ‘thud’ then you are good to go.

 

 

Where to buy hardwood logs? Where can I find Kiln dried hardwood logs?

Before you go rushing to the nearest forest axe in hand (seriously please don’t do that) we have some great news for you. You can find all the hardwood logs you’ll ever need at bigkproducts.co.ukOur Kiln Dried Hardwood Logs FSC® Grown in Britain are all FSC certified and Woodsure Ready to Burn accredited. With a consistent moisture level of below 20%, high heat output and long lasting burn, they are an ideal partner for stoves, chimineas, fire pits, pizza ovens, cookers and of course open fires. Looking for something a little more classic? Check out our 10kg Seasoned Hardwood Logs FSC® Grown in Britain.  Each log is 100% grown in the Britain, FSC certified and capable of delivering long lasting heat. These hardworking chaps have warmed houses and hearts for decades. We know some people are all about convenience. So if you’re big on efficient storage for your firewood then our Kin Dry Hardwood Logs in a Box is the solution. So now you can indulge in some box based Tetris while getting the most out of your storage space. Naturally it goes without saying that these birch logs are all FSC certified and Woodsure Ready to Burn accredited, with a consistent moisture level of below 20%. Happy hardwood days!

 

Looking for a saving? Get stuck into hardwood log pallets

 

When you buy in bulk your wallet becomes The Incredible Hulk – meaning it is has more buying power due to all the savings. OK that was a pretty terrible analogy. We were in it for the rhyme scheme if we are being totally honest.  Back to the woody juiciness. We have a Bulk Bag of Kiln Dried Hardwood logs for just £115 . Looking for something bigger?  A quarter, half or full pallet of Kiln Dried Hardwood logs should do the trick. Prices range from £108.64 –£357.76 bringing you some serious savings and heat to boot. Finally we’ve also given our Seasoned Hardwood Logs FSC® Grown in Britain the pallet treatment, starting from £100.64 for a quarter pallet . Your bank account thanks you!

Wood you like to bring the heat this winter? Now you’ve got the weaponry.

Take care