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Can you use Briquettes in a smokeless zone?

17th December 2020

A designated smokeless zone, is an area where you are not allowed to emit chimney smoke unless you are burning fuel that is authorised, or are using an appliance that has received DEFRA exemption, such as some burners, cookers, or stoves.

If you are unsure whether you live in a smokeless zone or not, you can contact your local council, where the environmental services department will be able to assist you.

If you own a wood burning stove and live in a smokeless zone, you might be confused as to what you can burn on it to stay compliant with current UK regulation.  You may need to know if your appliance is DEFRA exempt or have wondered can you use briquettes in a smokeless zone?

According to DEFRA, unless you have an exempt appliance, the fuel you burn must be on the list of authorised fuels, or must be a smokeless fuel such as:

·   anthracite

·   semi-anthracite

·   gas

·   low volatile steam coal

The good news is many wood burning stoves are exempt.

 To check if yours is, you can search the DEFRA database here. If your stove is certified as exempt, then you are permitted to burn an unauthorised fuel, such as wood.  When you check on the DEFRA website it will tell you exactly what fuels you’re allowed to burn on your stove.

There are some caveats.

You must burn only wood that is dry, as freshly cut wood or badly seasoned logs will produce far too much smoke.  This is not permitted, even if you are using an appliance that has received exemption by DEFRA.  You must also still only use the type of fuel that your manufacturer has said is suitable for use with your appliance.

It’s best to stick to either kiln-dried logs or wood briquettes to ensure you emit lower quantities of smoke as the amount of moisture will directly impact the amount of smoke that is produced.  Freshly cut logs have a moisture content of around 50%, making them totally unsuitable for smokeless zones.

Briquettes are a great choice for a wood burning stove as they burn at a high temperature, though not as high as coal, and they produce lower amounts of flue-clogging tar and ash.  They are denser than logs, so will burn for longer, as well as burning hotter.  They often have a lower number of pollutants too, so can be a more natural option, although this will depend on the type of logs you are using.

Another plus is that briquettes have a lower moisture level than logs dried in a kiln, typically of around 4-10% as opposed to 12-20%.  This is another factor that reduces smoke output, which is important if you need to burn fuel in a smoke free environment. 

We offer quality wood briquettes that are ideal to burn on wood burning stoves.  If your stove is exempt and DEFRA says you can burn Wood Logs on it, then any of our briquettes will be suitable for use with your appliance.