In May 2021, as part of a clean air initiative, the British government began phasing out the sale of wet wood for fuel in the UK. This has led to many people asking, what is considered wet wood and why shouldn’t it be burned? In this guide, we look at why using wet wood in a wood burning stove may be harmful.
What is wet wood?
Wet wood is wood that has a moisture content of between 20-60%. The moisture content of wood is usually determined by how recently it has been cut, and whether it has been seasoned to reduce the water content as much as possible.
What happens if you sell wet wood?
As the new legislation came into effect in 2021, retailers caught selling wet wood will receive a fixed penalty notice. It should be noted, however, that businesses that sell wood on a small-scale (less than 600m³ a year) have until May 2022 to comply with the new rules.
If wet wood is purchased in a quantity above 2m³ in volume, it may have a higher moisture content, but the wood must include instructions and advice on how to dry the wood safely.
Why is wet wood harmful?
When wet wood is burnt it releases a pollutant called fine particulate matter (or PM2. 5). If inhaled, the small particles can damage your lungs and other major organs in the body.
In addition to health concerns, when the pollutant is present in your chimney it can mix with other emissions and increase the likelihood of a fire, further putting your household at risk. It will lead to excessive tar build up within the Liner/ Flue system and Stove, which will also cause the Glass to become thick with dirt.
Can you dry wet wood?
IMPORTANT: It is not safe to dry or store wet logs next to your stove or fire because they can catch fire, and the moisture release could cause mould spores to form in the room.
If you require a large quantity of wood, for example, if you have multiple wood burning stoves you need to fuel, you can purchase a large volume of wet wood and dry it yourself. Tips for drying wet wood include…
Store the logs in a dry, secure space, ideally in sunlight to help the wood dry. In our experience, a lean to building with slatted floor e.g., pallets, will help the logs dry faster. Please note that logs will only dry correctly if they have already been cut to size and split to the required size of your stove.
Buy or cut your wood to the correct size for your stove. Smaller logs to help reduce moisture content faster. The more surface area a log has, the faster it will usually dry.
Drying logs inside can take around two years. If you require wood immediately, you may be better suited to purchase a smaller quantity of wood that is marked as ‘Ready to Burn’. A good law of thumb is that timber takes a year per inch plus one year to air dry properly. This is of course species dependent as timbers vary in density. E.g., a 4-inch-thick log of Oak would therefore take 5 years to Air dry fully.
If you would like more information on what is wet wood or the correct fuel to burn in wood burning and multifuel stoves, give Caledonian Stoves a call and speak to a qualified experienced Arborist who can answer all your Wood related questions.