Burning Wood in Smokeless Zones


Burning wood in smokeless zones can be confusing.

chimney tops and roof tops woodfuel coop

Wood is not specifically listed as a smokeless fuel, so many people assume they can’t burn it in smokeless zones. However, by using a DEFRA-certified stove (also known as an exempt appliance), good quality, dry wood can be used safely.

There’s an excellent article on The Stove Fitters’ Manual, which explains this nicely. Don’t worry – exempt appliances are not hard to find. The full list can be found on DEFRA’s website.

Get the right appliance, get the right fuel

We specialise in dry, ready to burn wood fuel, which is perfect for using in DEFRA approved stoves in smokeless zones. Lots of customers in cities enjoy using our wood briquettes because they’re easy to store, convenient and clean-burning.

Dry fuel is important. It creates less smoke and therefore fewer pollutants. Dry wood also produces more heat, because the energy of the fire isn’t spent on burning off water first. Seasoned logs are not ideal – they’re often high in moisture – often well over 20%. Kiln-dried logs are better – they’re between 10-20% moisture. Wood briquettes are best – they’re between 4-10% moisture.

In 2021, new legislation was introduced in England to prevent the sale of wet wood. We explain a bit about the Ready to Burn scheme in this post on our blog.

Why we recommend wood briquettes over kiln-dried logs

Stand alone woodburner in scandi style setting woodfuel coop
  1. Wood briquettes are drier and denser. Which means you get more heat but use less fuel.
  2. They’re clean and easy to handle. Briquettes come in easily stacked packs and take up less space than logs. They also don’t contain lots of creepy-crawlies – perfect if there’s an arachnophobe in your house!
  3. Briquettes cost about the same as logs in terms of heat output. This surprises many people, who assume briquettes must be more expensive. Find out more.
  4. They’re made from a waste by-product. Any industry that processes wood produces sawdust. Usually, sawdust is a waste product and often ends up in landfill. Wood briquettes are made from pure wood sawdust, chips or grindings and so use this waste product rather than sending it to landfill.
  5. We don’t have to fell trees for firewood, which helps preserve important habitats. Good firewood comes from hardwoods – deciduous, slower-growing trees, such as oak and ash. These are valuable habitats in the UK, and take a long time to regenerate, so chopping them down to burn is not as sustainable as many would like to think. This is likely to become more of an issue as the number of wood-burning appliances increases.

Our Top-Rated Fuels for Large and Medium Stoves

Our Top-Rated Fuels for Small to Medium Stoves

baby beech briquettes woodfuel coop
hotmax cobs loose woodfuel coop
pini kay heat logs woodfuel coop

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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.