Media reports continually reinforce what, by now, we have all heard: the health of our environment is a concern, and it’s up to each of us to do our part to help protect it.
Homeowners with wood-burning fireplaces are in a position to do just that. If they do it right.
Here are some tips to making your fireplace and your home heating activities more eco-friendly.
- This fact we know: deforestation causes serious problems by messing with the balance of toxin-absorption and the creation of oxygen, which is what trees do. Sustainable wood harvesting is a big deal today. It’s common practice now for wood harvesting companies to plant more trees than they cut down. If you cut your own fire wood, you should do the same. If you buy your wood from an outside source, it would be prudent to ensure that that source participates in sustainable wood harvesting.
Remember that, unlike fuels such as gas, propane and coal, wood is a neutral fuel. Properly seasoned wood burned in an efficient fireplace produces so little smoke that it is balanced out by the absorption of carbon dioxide by the tree – where your wood came from – when it was in its original state.
- What’s the best wood to burn? There are many different types of wood that people choose for various reasons including the speed and heat of the burn and the aroma it produces. The key to choosing wood isn’t what kind of tree it came from but rather its quality. Avoid purchasing logs that have been chemically treated in any way, because they’ll release toxic waste when burned. You want good, clean wood that is dry (seasoned) in order to create the cleanest-burning fire. Aside from actual logs that have been treated, it’s not recommended that you burn broken-up pallets, particle board or cardboard, for the same reason.
- Never burn moist wood in your fireplace. Moist wood burns incompletely and emits nitrogen oxides that are greenhouse gases that damage the ozone. Toxic nitrogen dioxide is of particular concern when released into the atmosphere through the burning of moist wood. Seasoned wood, on the other hand, produces no nitrogen oxides and burns very clean.
It can take up to a year for chopped wood to dry out sufficiently. When purchasing logs for your fireplace, look for wood that has a dark outside and is nearly white on the inside. If there’s any green hues to the wood, it’s probably too moist. You can buy a moisture meter to test your wood from hearth stores and on the Internet.
- The goal in eco-friendly wood burning is to have the fire burn hotter and longer so that gasses and particles burn up rather than travel into the air. An efficient fireplace insert is a great way to make this happen. If you have a standard open fireplace, consider an insert to make all your fires safer for the environment. Fireplace inserts exceed the EPA’s clean-air standards and burn wood so cleanly that they can often be used in smoke-free zones.
- Finally, have your chimney and fireplace inspected and maintained regularly. Chimneys with a lot of creosote buildup don’t allow for efficient wood burning. Chimneys in disrepair can let in moisture, which may cause burning wood to produce a significant amount of smoke.
Marsh’s Stove & Fireplace of Toronto is committed to helping our environment through best practices for wood-burning fireplaces. We have a full line of beautiful fireplaces and fireplace inserts to choose from along with sales associates who can advise you further on burning wood in an eco-friendly manner. Stop by our showroom at 3322 Dundas Street West, or give us a call at (416) 762-4582.