Is there a woodburning stove expert here that can tell me what
combustible fuels are 'no-go' for burning in a domestic woodburning
I am primarily concerned about burning anything that will damage the
newly installed stainless flue.
I would particularly like to know if it is ok to burn clean, unprinted
plain cardboard boxes, newspaper etc?
I have a neighbour who burns anything and everything.
I'd assume the difference between 2 year seasoned wood (apart from
price) is the quantity of soot produced and the number of toxins you
release if you put bad stuff on.
Things that will produce toxic fumes (certain synthetic materials,
agent orange) , things that are an explosion risk (flammable liquids,
petrol, gunpowder, IED's etc.) or may burn more quickly than is safe
(flammable powders/dusts etc)
Only massive overheating, such as a chimney fire, might shorten it's
The ink etc in colour magazines really stinks
and is probably poisonous
to us and to the planet.
As is plastic and the glues in chipboard.
Burning nitrogen can make cyanide,
and burning plastics make dioxins,
which are poisonous in parts per million
Also i believe Elder wood is poisonous,
which is why they said it was bewitched.
In article , Tom says...
We've got a wood burner and tend to use household paper based rubbish,
newspapers, magazines etc to help light it. A small amount of plastic
waste e.g. sweet wrappers, yoghurt pots are good to get the fire going
too, but don't use a lot or open the door while any plastic is burning
as the smoke tends to stink up the room.
The primary heat source is logs of course, which we have delivered. It
is best to use logs which have aged for a couple of years for the sap to
dry out or they may smoulder rather than burn.
We also burn twiggy garden waste, hedge clippings, shrub and rose
clippings etc, but allow then to die off outside and dry for a few
months before using them. Beware using brambles - some twiggy waste such
as these tend to give off a lot of flammable gas before actually
igniting. I think it may be acetylene gas? Anyway you can sometimes get
a big whoosh and blue flame as the liberated gas ignites, which blows
smoke out the side of the door and through the air vent! In the worse
case scenario it could even blow the glass out of the door explosively -
so take care what you burn! Try small quantities of each material first
to see how they burn.
We burn anything and everything on our multifuel. Rubbish, building
debris, plastic, mdf, you name it.. Dry logs best however, and produce
least ash. Was worried about the concrete cast in situ flue lining but
seems OK I've swept it a few times.
On Tue, 16 Oct 2007 06:11:55 +0100, The Natural Philosopher
I can post you a nice picture of a single skin 316 stainless flue pipe
pockmarked with rust perforations and a tell tale light green stain on
the floor below if you wish.
pyrolysis offgas: the volatiles given off as the compounds that form
wood (chiefly cellulose, hemicelullose and lignin) break down in the
The worst case scenario is when you return home from work in your wet
anorak and decide to chivvy the fire, which you left smouldering on a
full load of fresh wood. Swing the door wide open and take a gasp of
breath in surprise as the smoke suddenly ignites in the presence of
air. The burning anorak adds to the lung damage. It couldn't happen
but it did, I can't remember the chap's name but he was a lorry driver
working for a firm called Blacks out of Oxford, they hauled wood and
were funeral directors IIRC.
Perhaps you can see why I cannot help but agree with HETAS when they
insist on 6" double skinned flue to above eaves height, even though it
often trebles capital outlay for a wood burning device. It's a bit
harder to abuse a natural gas boiler.
Was advised by our HETAS registered installer (and an all round good
- Creosoted/pressure treated wood (pressure treated wood spits like a
- Unseasoned wood
- Slow burning unless you give it a good "blast" afterwards
- Coal (ie lump coal - smokeless is OK)
Basically you are avoiding a build up of creosotey/sooty deposits in the
chimney which can rot the liner due to their acidity.
He also recommended leaving the door of the stove ajar if it's not going
to be used for a week or so - keep the air going through the chimney to
I know it sounds all a bit much but having spent £500+ on the woodburner
and £1200+ on the flue etc. I think it seems reasonable to follow his
advice - backed up with a little bit of Googling too.....
Just me (and the installers) humble opnions!
Some solid fuels produce hydrocarbons which condense in the flue (coal tar?) -
they don't ignite in
the main fire. Also you can get moisture buildup if the airflow isn't great.
And of course, paper and cardboard burned on their own produce lots of ash,
which quickly puts the
fire out - try and mix it with wood.
they don't ignite in
which quickly puts the
One other possible problem that no-one else has mentioned. A very fierce
burn in my woodburner (doh! I'd mopped up a small kerosine spill with
kitchen towels) softened the mastic that locked the cowl onto the top of
the stainless liner. I wish it had roasted a pigeon (sorry - ring dove)
at the same time, but no such luck! The co-incidental high wind then
blew the thing off.One of those jobs I must get round to. Crack out the
scaffold tower and roof ladder.