Solid fuel appliances are either wood burning or multi-fuel models. Multi-fuel models will have a Grate and Ashpan because coal needs air fed from underneath in order to burn well; and wood burners will simply burn their fuel on the floor, because wood does not need that extra air supply. If a stove is fed with soft, rapidly burning fuel, then it may overheat and damage internal components and the flue. Such unsuitable fuels include house coals, softwoods such as pine, and manufactured wood such as pallets, furniture offcuts – these will contain oils, resins and other impurities and would burn well on an open fire but too fiercely in an enclosed appliance.
Hardwoods such as Ash, Beech, Birch etc. are best for continuous burning. All wood must be seasoned before use – a newly cut-down tree will contain up to 80% water, so needs to be split down to suitable size logs and left to dry until the moisture content is around 20%. This will take around two years, or kiln dried wood can be purchased where the drying process has been accelerated.
Only anthracite coals should be used in multi-fuel stoves – as with wood, softer dirtier coals will burn too fast and fierce. Your local coal merchant should be able to offer good advice as to which makes are locally available.
It is perfectly acceptable to run a multi-fuel stove with a mixture of coal and wood.
Please visit our how to identify good firewood video for more information.