Is it better to burn wood or coal? | Kindwood

Is it better to burn wood or coal?

Is it better to burn wood or coal?

Fuelling the fire

Finding a suitable source of heat has been first on humanity’s agenda since the dawn of our existence. Wood burning dates back to the start of our time on Earth, and coal burning, while a more recent fuel source, has still been around for thousands of years.

Whether over a coal or wood fire, the two sources are often compared based on their pros and cons, but the truth is, when it comes to residential fires, one fuel will usually suit a person or family more than the other. Here, we’ll compare the two to assist in identifying which is more suitable in your case.

Burning coal

There are multiple reasons coal has remained such a favoured heat source over the years. It’s compact and stores easily, burns steadily, and when you buy it from a single supplier, it’s predictable that each batch will burn the same. Coal can be expensive to buy in the smaller quantities that residential use requires at any given time, but when bought in bulk, the price can level out.

However, as a fossil fuel, coal is a finite resource and over-consumption uses up the world’s resources at a rate the planet cannot replenish. When it is used, coal causes air pollution and is a leading cause of acid rain because it produces harmful elements which are released into the environment. Mining coal has a significant impact on the environment: polluting water tables, long-burning coal-seam fires and changing the surface above the mine which can damage buildings and farmland.

Burning wood

Comparing burning wood to burning coal, wood can be slightly more variable in heat production. Different woods will also burn at different temperatures because even the same tree burns differently depending on how dried its timber has been before being set alight. Having said that, modern wood fuel is much improved and kiln dried logs are now a firm favourite amongst fire-lovers. The wood is consistently dried, ideally to below an average of 20% moisture content, and therefore the fuel is more consistent overall. It’s also a cleaner burn because of this, producing less smoke, a long-lasting burn time and delightful heat output.

When it comes to the environment and sustainability, wood produces lower levels of carbon dioxide emissions and additional pollutants than coal when burnt. Modern methods of cultivating and harvesting trees are also much more sustainable than previously known to be: firewood can actually be very sustainable if you choose sellers who only endorse thinning projects from coppicing plants (cutting back to encourage more growth) and don’t contribute to deforestation. Sourcing locally to reduce the mileage of your logs as well as choosing sellers who use zero plastic are also good ways to ensure your household’s firewood has the least impact possible. 

Wood can also be used to create sustainable man-made charcoal. In our case, Kindwood Norfolk Charcoal is created in a zero-emission retort at Stanhoe Farm from a natural mix of locally sourced hardwoods. Our resources (like all of our firewoods) come from managed woodlands, minimising their environmental impact. It’s a sustainable and natural charcoal product, and the blend heats fast, lights freely and produces a wonderful level of heat. 

Which fuel is for you?

If you prefer a fuel that always burns hotter, then coal may be the right fit for you. However, if you’d rather use fuel that still burns incredibly well and is reliable, as well as renewable and has a lesser impact on the environment, then it’s advisable to opt for firewood for your home. The firewood industry now knows enough about drying wood to create hot-burning, consistently dried logs from sustainable sources. In this case, it’s more about finding the right firewood provider to meet your needs to build the best possible fire for residential use.

Whether you’re building your fire inside or outside your house, in a fireplace or in a fire pit, finding the perfect fuel for you is the key to happy fireside living. Overall, while there may have been clear advantages for burning coal in the past, choosing modern and sustainable wood fuel is a better option for many people in the market for fuel today.

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