Wood Briquettes are a high performing, low cost wood fuel suitable for multi-fuel fires and stoves but used in the wrong product they can cause long lasting damage to your appliance. Read on to learn more about this fuel source and the best ways to use it effectively.
WHAT ARE BRIQUETTES?
Wood briquettes (not to be confused with coal or charcoal briquettes) are a wood fuel made from compressed dry sawdust and/or wood chips. They will usually have less than 10% moisture content.
Wood briquettes are much hotter, cleaner, longer burning and more economical than traditional logs. … Briquettes also recycle a pure wood waste product, which means less going to landfill. It also means that trees are not having to be felled specifically to make firewood.
Compressed wood briquettes are more efficient than logs as they are very energy-rich and very dry. While coal might be a very energy dense fuel, giving out a lot of heat and burning slowly, it is also the most polluting.
Wood briquettes burn up to 50% hotter than logs but as not as hot as coal, meaning they can cause lasting damage when burnt exclusively in a wood-burning stove as these products haven’t been designed to deal with such temperatures.
WHY USE BRIQUETTES?
Briquettes host many plus points: they’re easy to use and transport, easy to store,
light quickly and break up easily for smaller stoves. They are also typically more cost-effective than logs and can be used alone or with firewood.
As they are odourless, they are great for open fire cooking and give off very little smoke and ash too.
There are of course many different types of fuel briquettes on the market in various shapes and sizes under a wide variety of names. Apart from shape and size, principle variants include:
Type of wood: hardwood, softwood or a mixture. Hardwood briquettes are denser and will burn that bit longer
Size of particles: the smaller the particles, the tighter and denser the briquette
Pressure exerted during manufacture: the greater the pressure, the denser the briquette resulting in a longer burn time and higher heat output.
CHECKING BRIQUETTES FOR QUALITY
Briquettes are not all made to the same quality and there can be big differences in products given this name. Because of the variation in density, some briquettes are a lot crumblier than others and fall apart more easily. Such briquettes also just “fluff” out and leave lots of ash behind when they’re burnt.
When purchasing briquettes, you should always check the packaging is waterproof and completely covers the contents. If the briquettes get wet, they expand and break down and are no longer fit for burning.
Briquettes should consist of 100% wood. They are often made from waste wood, so the pure wood ones have very good environmental credentials. Avoid any briquettes which haveglue or any other chemicals present. Watch out for a small number of products, often sold as packs of one or two “logs”, which consist of paraffin – or other accelerant – mixed with saw dust – these are best avoided!
HOW TO USE BRIQUETTES IN A WOOD OR MULTI-FUEL STOVE
Just as small kindling sticks catch fire more quickly than larger logs, it’s the same with briquettes. Use smaller briquettes when you want to get the fire started or need a quick burst of heat. Use large briquettes when you’re looking for a longer, slower burn.
As with any wood fuel, the denser the material the longer it will burn, however the greater the effort that is required to get the fire started. Briquettes are essentially high-energy wood fuel, usually denser than any native UK hardwood and with a lower moisture content. As mentioned, they are not as high in heat energy as coal, but they are the closest wood fuel to coal on the market. It’s sensible when first using them to bear this in mind and only use a few on your fire until you get used to the heat output. You really do not want to over-fire your wood burner and distort the metal work!
They are 100% wood so burn just like wood with a very pleasing flame. Don’t hesitate to mix them with other logs or use them on their own. You can also use briquettes for a very good campfire, barbeque or other wood-burning outdoor and open fires.
Because briquettes are so dry, they readily absorb water which then makes them crumble apart. It’s therefore very important to ensure the sacks of briquettes are stored in a dry place – please don’t rely on packaging to keep the briquettes dry if left outside in the rain. Plastic sacks can be easily torn or punctured and once wet briquettes cannot be burnt.