Guest post by Laura Phillips
If you’ve got a chiminea, a fire-pit, or a wood-burning stove, you’ll know that few things really match the romance, comfort, and heating efficiency of a real fire, and choosing an environmentally responsible heating solution for your home or garden can go a long way towards cutting your fuel bills, reducing your carbon footprint, and making your home more eco-friendly.
If you’re using wood as fuel, while you can select wood which has been ethically sourced, you must remember that burning wood – particularly if it has been improperly seasoned – releases creosote and particulates which can accumulate inside your chiminea or stove. Charcoal offers a cleaner burn, but once again, you have to make sure you’re buying from a company which promises to replant the trees they fell and is ethical in the way they produce the charcoal. It’s a more expensive option, but it’s much better for the environment.
Fortunately, there are reliable alternatives to wood and charcoal fuels, and they’ll help you reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.
You can find heat-logs at very reasonable prices, and they’re made from 100% waste sawdust, so they don’t contain any harmful chemicals or binding agents, and nor do they release creosote or particulates. They also produce very little ash, which can be recycled in the garden. Since the sawdust is very dry, these little logs also burn at a higher temperature than wood, making them effective for heating, and they will also burn for a longer period. They’re surprisingly cheap and very eco-friendly.
You can also find fire logs, made from recycled wood or paper and bonded with wax. These are good for burning outside and will burn for a long time, and are a good no-mess solution for outside fires and cast iron and clay chimineas. They are generally designed to be used one at a time, so they’re great for using on a smouldering fire.
There are other options for recycled fuel – and inspiration may be closer than you think!
Making Your Own Fuel
If you’d rather make your own fuel, you can pick up a Logmaker for making fire-ready logs from general household and garden waste. This fuel can then be stored for later use and not only is it free, it’s a viable alternative to recycling or composting. Depending on the type of Logmaker you buy, you can either make dry paper logs, ready for burning right away or for storing, or wet-and-dry logs, which will need to be dried before use.
You can pick up a surprising amount of combustible waste around the house which would either end up in the landfill or would need to be shredded or recycled. Apply a little common sense and you’ll find a wealth of potential fuel around your home. Shredded paper, junk mail, cereal packets, egg-boxes, torn up toilet roll tubes, nut shells, teabags.
You can also make more compact and versatile wet-and-dry logs from soaked and compacted waste. These wet-and-dry logs will need to be left to dry before use, but when they’re ready, you can store them in a dry place for later, and they’ll take anything from soaked paper to a variety of garden waste. The beauty of using garden waste as fuel is that it’s carbon-neutral, as the plants have absorbed as much carbon as they’ll release when burned, and there’s no need to worry about damage done to the environment through packaging or transportation. Wood shavings, sawdust, dry leaves, twigs, and dry plant clippings, are all good, and you can also use everything you’d use in the dry Logmaker. If you want to burn green garden waste, simply allow it to dry for a few days in the sun (or ventilated under clear plastic in the winter) before use.
Here are some ideas for gathering your own fuel:
- Fallen autumn leaves – tidy up your garden and make fuel at the same time!
- Green garden clippings – e.g. woody shrubs, trimmings from the herb or vegetable plot, twigs and soft green foliage.
- If you have a lot of thick, woody cuttings, such as branches from bushes or hedges, or smaller tree branches, these can be used for fuel as well, but they should be split and dried briefly first.
Both types of logs should burn for approximately one hour, depending on their composition. Burning household and garden waste is a great way of getting useful energy and heat out of something you would have either thrown away or recycled, and it’s an absolute must if you want reliable, cheap, eco-friendly fuel to heat your home or garden. Making your own fuel or buying recycled fuel is much kinder to the environment, and it can even save you money, so it’s a win-win situation!
Laura Phillips writes for Chiminea Shop UK, a specialist supplier of cast iron chimineas and other eco friendly products.