Autumn in the air


There was a definite feel of autumn in the air yesterday as the Wood Fuel Co-op team tidied up after the so-called ‘summer’ season of shows and country fairs. Folk are already hastening to sort out their winter heating options and we met many who are wanting to find out about their fuel options for new woodstoves and boilers.

Meeting so many people at the shows has been fascinating. We learn a huge amount about what people are looking for in their woodfuel and their horse bedding and there’s a lot of keen interest in the wood briquettes and pellets. The weather has been challenging: at Dumfries Show everything was in full swing when a massive thunderstorm struck and literally wiped the show out. Then last weekend, at Galloway Country Fair, the underfoot conditions were more than soggy, necessitating a lot of towing by tractors to get exhibitors on and off their pitches, but on Saturday afternoon the hot sun really brought out the crowds.

So, what wood fuels are new for autumn 2012?

This year we’ve been getting regular supplies of Hotmax, a dense, dark, pine-aroma-ed briquette which really lives up to its name, producing a good heat and especially popular with owners of small to medium stoves and open fires. It’s made from the by-products of Bedmax, their popular brand of horse bedding (which we also stock), which in turn is made from local softwood thinnings, so it has good eco-credentials. If you’d like to know more, click here for the answers to some frequently asked questions about Hotmax. They key thing about Hotmax is not to overload the stove with it, as it burns very hot and also expands somewhat.

Fire Blox Briquettes

Then we have the new Fire Blox from SWF. These are larger, rectangular blocks of densely compressed recycled timber ‘wood flour’ and they put out a good sustained heat. They’re great for keeping the stove burning for long periods and, unlike the Verdo wood briquettes (see below), they don’t expand substantially inside the stove. They work best in enclosed appliances, have less than 8% moisture content and are easy to store neatly because of their shape.

Verdo Briquettes

The ever-popular Verdo wood briquettes are here too. These long, square brqiettes are made from virgin thinnings from Scottish forests and they burn hot, and expand greatly, so they come in between the top two products in terms of performance. Because of the expansion, for smaller appliances it’s a good idea to break them in half and as for all briquettes, never overload the stove or fireplace and don’t poke the fire.

There are more products on our shelves that you might also like to try out, so do call by if you can. We do trial packs, as every stove and fire grate is different and usually some experimenting will produce a mixture of different types of wood briquettes to make the perfect burn for you. We can store your bulk-bought fuel for you in our Dumfries depot, so that you can take advantage of the cheaper prices the co-op obtains, pick up what you need whenever you’re passing and not have to give up lots of space to log storage. So if you’re trying to cut your heating costs and want a convenient, eco-friendly product as well, we look forward to meeting you down at Heathhall!

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Quick guide to choosing the best Wood Fuel for your stove and lifestyle.

Wood Fuel Co-operative

*Break - We strongly recommend you break these briquettes in half (or less for very small stoves) because they do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to overfill the fire.
*Easy to light - We always use a Firelighter and Kindling Sticks to start our fires. Most briquettes are graded four stars to light because they are quite dense and require kindling.


  • All stove and flue combinations tend to have different burning characteristics. Fuel that works well in my stove may not work so well in your stove, and vice-versa.
  • Most modern stoves are more efficient than most older stoves, meaning a modern quality stove will burn fuel more economically and generate more heat over a longer period.
  • Always try to burn fuel with a 'lick of flame'. Smouldering fuel to try to extend burn time is bad for your stove, flue and the environment due to unburned particulate matter in the smoke.
  • Be prepared to break briquettes into smaller sections to fit into your stove comfortably. Many briquettes do expand whilst burning and you don't want them to expand onto the glass.
  • The chart above indicates which briquettes are easy to break. Some are small enough so they don't need breaking. This makes for a cleaner environment around your stove.
  • All briquettes, except Everyday Value and Hotmax, benefit hugely from using kindling to light them. I suggest five kindling sticks will be sufficient, meaning a net should last 30 days.