Viewing posts from the Environmental category

Wet Wood – Why You Should Avoid It Like The Plague!

9 out of 10 wood-burning stove suppliers will tell you that ‘wet wood’ is the single most common issue that causes their customers to complain about their stove. Why?

It is widely accepted Globally that burning damp wood causes the following:

  • It dramatically reduces heat output. How? By reducing your efficiency on your stove by over 50%. Check out these test results from www.soliftec.co.uk (Efficiency tests).
  • It blackens the glass on your wood-burner.
  • It clogs your flues with tar which can lead to extremely dangerous chimney fires.
  • It costs you more. Lower efficiency means more fuel to try and achieve the same heat. You could be spending as much as double on damp wood to get the same heat as you would from dry.

However, this is not the worst of it.

The British Government announced in February 2020 that it will be banning the sale of wet wood. This ban will take effect from 2023. Why?

Wet wood with a moisture content exceeding 20% will be banned (along with coal).

The reason is that these fuels are among the most polluting to our atmosphere.

Read the Guardian news report here: “House coal and wet wood to be phased out by 2023…”

We have no excuse here in South Africa. We can dry wood, relatively quickly in our climate (6-12 months) compared to Europe.

We ran a few home tests a couple of years ago on a couple of varieties of fire wood available in Cape Town. The results were interesting:


Ecodesign 2022 – The Future For Wood-burning Stoves

The very latest in clean-burning technology!

The European Union (inc the UK) have adopted new rigorous standards for bio-mass heating appliances referred to as Ecodesign which includes wood-burning stoves and pellet stoves. This standard will be enforced with effect from 1st January 2022 which seems a long way off so why mention it now and what is the relevance for South African heating appliances?

Why is Ecodesign Relevant?

Wood-burning stoves are now providing cleaner and more efficient ways to burn solid fuels. Wood is the popular choice of fuel here in South Africa. South African homes (both modest and grand) favour solid fuel heating and wood-burners are popular.

The new Ecodesign regulations focus strongly on raising not only the ‘efficiency’ of a wood-burning or biomass stove but (more importantly) lowering the emissions of hazardous gases and particulates that cause air-pollution.

Particulates from a variety of pollutants (inc wood-burning stoves) cause this:

Smog hovers regularly over Cape Town. Wood burning contributes to this major health risk in South Africa.

Here is a regular sight over Cape Town. Yellow smog created by a variety causes, one of which (not the greatest by any means) is wood fires. Other cities throughout South Africa face similar issues.

Up to 20,000 deaths per annum are attributed to air pollution in SA (according to 2016 statistics from the World Bank). Whilst South Africa may lag behind Europe in terms of its environmental policy, it is only a matter of time before South Africans are obligated to make adjustments in order to clean up the atmosphere over their cities.

Given the enthusiasm for wood-burning stoves now in SA, it is only appropriate that part of your investment decision when considering which stove to purchase should include how ‘clean’ it REALLY is.

The new Ecodesign regs will mean that any solid fuel heating appliance sold in Europe will be required to dramatically reduce it’s impact on the environment. How?

  • Thermal Efficiency. A minimum standard of 75% on all stoves. This is not difficult to achieve if you are happy to compromise on particulate emissions. It is quite a different story when you have to reduce particulate emissions at the same time as raising efficiencies.
  • Carbon Monoxide Emissions. This poisonous gas is emitted during the burning process. The current standard for acceptable emissions has been dramatically reduced by close to 90% from the previous figure! This is no mean feat for the stove manufacturers to achieve!
  • Particulate (Dust) Emissions. Less than 40mg per cubic metre. Again, a dramatic reduction in the current levels of particulates allowable under current EU standards will be required.
  • Organic Gaseous Carbon compounds (OCG) and Nitrogen Oxides. Both these contributors to poor air quality have been limited further by the new Ecodesign parameters.

The good news is that all responsible European manufacturers (like Charnwood) who wish to distribute their products in Europe and Africa will be required to meet these standards so your European product should comply by default at some point in the future. Products from outside the EU or UK will not be required to comply and some (hopefully very few) European manufacturers may choose to forgo the regulations for products sold outside the EU, although this would be very irresponsible.

The BEST news is that Charnwood already produce a series of stoves to meet the rigorous standards of Ecodesign 2022 NOW! The range includes the following models with more being added:

Charnwood Blu range - Ecodesign ready

By purchasing a Charnwood ‘Blu’ edition stove you are making the responsible choice in solid fuel heating!


Click below to see how the Ecodesign ready Charnwood ‘Skye’ operates:



Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning claims about 4,000 lives a year in the U.S. (figures for SA not available). In addition, about 10,000 people are made ill by lower levels of exposure to carbon monoxide (US).

What is it?

Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion. The less complete the burning (combustion), the more carbon monoxide is generated. One of the reasons carbon monoxide is so deadly is that you generally can’t see or smell it: rarely do its victims have any warning. Low levels of poisoning tend to cause flu-like symptoms, so that people think they are just catching a cold. More advanced poisoning can cause vomiting and headaches and even death. Carbon monoxide is deadly because it tricks the body into thinking it is oxygen. The body actually prefers carbon monoxide, choosing it over oxygen when both are present in the atmosphere.

Once in the body, carbon monoxide goes everywhere in the body, including the brain. Children, in particular, are quite susceptible to brain damage after relatively low levels of exposure.

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Are wood burning stoves ‘green’?

This is a question that varies to a certain extent based on the context. In terms of ‘Is a wood burning stove green compared to other solid fuel heaters’ – there is reason to wholeheartedly state “yes” in response. Why?

  1. Wood is a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel.

“Carbon Neutral’ basically refers to off-setting the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere (which is bad as CO2 is the primary contributor to Greenhouse gases) with Carbon Dioxide removed from the atmosphere during a given process (which is good as it helps to reduce Greenhouse gases). For a process to be ‘carbon neutral’, it should leave no more CO2 in the atmosphere than was there prior to the process.

In wood-burning terms the positive argument is that a tree will consume CO2 as it grows and release it again only when it is combusted. It will not release MORE CO2 than it consumed provided it is allowed to grow and mature. Therefor it can be considered ‘carbon neutral’.

Carbon Neutral

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