Useful Information

Hardwood or softwood?

What is the difference between hardwood and softwood? Hardwoods are any broad-leafed, deciduous trees, such as Beech and Elm, while softwoods are conifers including Cedar and Fir.

When it comes to the economical side of burning wood in stoves, hardwood is more economical than softwood as it burns slower. It is all to do with the density of the different types so softwood is half the density of hardwood, which results in it burning on average twice as fast. This means you will need twice the quantity of softwood.


No matter what type of wood you choose for your stove, it is important that the wood is dried or seasoned before you burn. Wood that hasn’t been dried wastes much of the energy created while burning by removing water from the log and producing steam.
Non-seasoned wood contains a high amount of water of anywhere between 65-90%, depending on the type. We recommend that wood is seasoned for at least a year, or preferably two before burning.

You can dry out your own wood in a wood store if you have the facilities, otherwise ensure you buy seasoned wood from your supplier. The best kiln dried wood has a moisture content of less than 20%. Testers are readily available to measure moisture content.


  • While all woods burn better when seasoned, in general the best woods for burning in your stove are the ones you are most likely sold in your area. Here are our recommendations:
  • Apple – Burns slowly with a small flame and produces a pleasant scent.
  • Ash – Considered the best wood for log burners; it produces a consistent flame and good heat output.
  • Beech – Very similar to Ash.
  • Birch – Produces a strong heat output but can burns very quickly.
  • Hawthorn – A firewood with a slow burn and strong heat output.
  • Horse chestnut – This wood is burnt well in wood stoves as it can spit. Produces a good flame and strong heat output.
  • Oak – This wood has a high density and produces a small flame and very slow burn.
  • Robinia – A good burning wood with a slow burn and strong heat output. Can produce a lot of smoke but in a stove this of course is not a problem.
  • Thorn – A consistent flame and strong heat output without producing too much smoke.
Burley Stoves video

Smoke Control Areas

Smoke Control Areas and the Clean Air Act 1993

The Clean Air Act of 1993 allows local authorities to declare certain districts, or certain parts of a district, as a Smoke Control Area or ‘smokeless zone’. This act states that emitting smoke from the chimney of any building or from a furnace or fixed boiler in a Smoke Control Area is considered an offence. Another offence is the acquisition and use of unauthorised fuel, unless it is used in a DEFRA Approved, or Smoke Exempt appliance, which is exempt from the general applications within a Smoke Control Area. These appliances are required to undergo intense testing during the authorisation process, and should always be operated according to the specifications and instructions of the manufacturer.

Some of the largest designated Smoke Control Areas include all of Belfast, London, and Manchester. Some smaller, yet still significant Smoke Control Areas include The Midlands, North West, North East, and South Yorkshire in England, as well as the Central and Southern regions of Scotland. These areas you are only allowed to burn smokeless fuels, as wood fuel is only allowed to be burnt in a DEFRA Approved stove. However, if you burn wet or unseasoned wood, which may cause excessive smoke, in a DEFRA Approved wood burning stove you will still be using the stove in an unlawful fashion.

Burnwood Chimneys will advise if this Act affects you at the time of our no obligation free survey and in all cases in the county of Dorset is not an issue.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide (CO) results from burning gas, coal, oil, wood, and other carbon-based fuels, and is a poisonous gas with no taste, colour, or odour. Generally, victims of CO poisoning are not aware they have it until their health begins to deteriorate and they are diagnosed with it. However, in some severe cases, CO poisoning can cause fatalities because of its colourless, tasteless, and odourless nature, and due to its symptoms often being mistaken for flu or food poisoning.

There are some cases of CO poisoning which are because of poor management of wood burning or multi-fuel stoves. Here at Burnwood Chimneys Ltd we make sure all our customers are safe and aware of the dangers but ensure a fully competent installation.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It has been a UK Building Regulations requirement since October 2010 to fit a CO alarm with every installed stove. Any stove that is not fitted with a CO alarm could potentially be harmful to the health of your family as it is no easily detected without an alarm. It has become increasingly important to ensure that all stoves are tested and checked according to CE standards to ensure the continued safety of you and your family. As a result, through a high-profile, governmentally funded initiative, along with the Stove Industry Alliance and HETAS, Trading Standards is set to highlight the potential dangers of non-CE tested stoves, or stoves which claim to be CE tested, but in reality, are not.

Burnwood Chimneys Ltd have years of experience in all stove makes and will only recommend high quality makes to ensure maximum safety for is customers.

Unchecked and Neglected Stoves

Simple checks performed by manufacturers will allow them to provide you with a timescale and a list of items that need to be checked in accordance with this timescale. They will also provide you with detailed instructions on how to replace certain consumable components. Lee Davies Fireplace and Brickwork Specialists will be able to assist you with a range of checks and maintenance to ensure your stove is working safely.

Blocked Chimneys

Burnwood Chimneys Ltd recommend you have your chimney swept regularly alongside burning seasoned wood to ensure you are maximising your stove heat output plus keeping your flue in good condition therefore minimising ‘clogging’. Additionally a birdcage cowl is often used to keep out nesting birds.

Inadequate Ventilation

Since October 2010, Building Regulations have implemented stricter criteria where ventilation requirements are concerned. Here at Burnwood Chimneys Ltd we will advise at the free no obligation survey of any requirements on ventilation.

Stoves and Extractor Fans

Under UK Building Regulations, it is not permitted to have a wood burning or multi-fuel stove operate in the same room as an extractor fan. This will again be assessed at time of survey and any recommendations provided.