Switching from fossil fuel to woodfuel makes a lot of sense environmentally and economically. Our goal is simple: creating high quality, environmentally friendly fuel, using as little energy as we can on the way.
Why is woodfuel more 'green'?
The key reason woodfuel is more environmentally friendly is due to the timescales it takes to create the fuel. Trees take in carbon as they grow and release it to the atmosphere when they are burned, or die. Managed in a sustainable way, the trees that grow take up the carbon released when woodfuel is burnt. This is called a 'closed carbon cycle' and means there is no net increase in atmospheric CO2. This is not true for fossil fuels as there is no replenishment of oil, gas or coal when these fuels are burnt. Plus it takes millions of years to produce fossil fuels.
What are the important things to consider environmentally?
Top of the list is that woodfuel needs to be from sustainable sources to keep the fuel truely renewable. Next is to make sure it travels as little as possible - we buy timber locally and sell woodfuel locally.
We never use imported timber in our production processes and never will.
What is the difference between hardwood and softwood?
Generally speaking, hardwood comes from deciduous, or broadleaved trees (trees that lose their leaves in winter) and softwood comes from conifers or evergreen trees (those with needle like leaves that don't lose their leaves in winter).
Hardwood trees have a different internal structure to softwoods which gives them more inherent strength, however there is actually huge variation in the density of different softwoods and hardwoods making some softwoods heavier than some hardwoods! Larch for example is a very heavy softwood, it makes for good firewood but throws explosive sparks so best kept for a woodburning stove. Another intereting fact about Larch is that although it is a conifer it is not evergreen - the lovely bright green conifers sporting newly grown needles in Spring are stands of Larch!
Generally, hardwood makes for better firewood as it spits less and burns for longer.
Examples of hardwoods include: oak, ash, elm, poplar, birch and maple.
Examples of softwoods include: pine spruce, cedar, larch, cypress and yew.
Why does burning dry wood help the environment?
Although wood burning is a 'green' choice, burning 'green' wood is not. When trees are freshly felled they are known as 'green'. The moisture content of freshly felled green wood varies by species but can account for as much as 67% of the total weight of the wood. Generally softwoods have a higher green moisture content than hardwoods. Ash, has only around 33% moisture content when felled - making one of the best species for seasoning as it dries relatively quickly.
The heat generated when wood is burned is directly linked to the moisture content of the woodfuel. The higher the moisture content the lower the usable energy, or calorific value. This is simply because more energy is used to displace the water in the wood, through evaporation, before the wood generates heat.
For example burning wood at around 15% moisture content generates more than twice as much heat as burning wood at 50% moisture content. Looking at it another way... you would need to burn twice as many logs to get the same amount of heat. That's why we dry!
Dry wood also gives off less smoke and emissions, making it a cleaner, greener fuel.
Why is replanting important?
Without replanting, the carbon cycle is not closed and woodfuel cannot be considered renewable or sustainable. Before we buy any timber we check it meets our requirements on replanting. Young trees also absorb more carbon than old as they are rapidly growing. The normal forestry cycle of planting, thinning, felling and replanting sustains levels of carbon absorbtion in our woodlands.