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What are Briquettes?

Wood briquettes are manufactured logs made up of compressed wood byproducts and make a great alternative to traditional firewood logs.  They are ideal if you have a wood burning stove and are looking for an efficient and effective form of fuel.  They also have the added bonus of being very easy to store.

There are a number of different types of briquette to choose from and to find the right one for you, it’s useful to think about what you want from your fuel.  Some briquettes will quickly heat your space with hot flames and others will burn slowly, offering a heat source for longer.

Briquettes for a wood burning stove are also known as heat logs.

How are wood briquettes made?

Wood briquettes can be made by compressing together hardwood, softwood or a mixture of the two.  It’s important to look for high quality briquettes which only contain 100% wood, without any other ingredients.  The lignan molecules in the wood melt under intense pressure to bind together the wood and the dust, forming a dense solid block. Briquettes can also be formed from other materials such as charcoal, peat and coffee.

What are the best quality briquettes?

The best quality briquettes are made from 100% wood, which is free from contaminants like glue or paint.  The production process is also key to creating top class briquettes as intense pressure is needed to form them.  This is essential for high quality briquettes as denser logs have longer burn times and retain their shape well.  Poorly compacted briquettes may appear cheaper, but their quick burn time makes them an expensive option in the long run.  These briquettes can also burn at a very high temperature and have the potential to damage some wood burners if the heat output is too high.

It’s also worth looking out for a hole in the centre of the briquette which encourages the airflow needed for a consistent burn which keeps your fire aglow. As all wood briquettes have different characteristics, the ‘best’ briquette for you will depend on your aim and your stove. However, a high quality wood briquette will always prove to be a more cost effective and efficient choice over cheap alternatives.

Can you burn briquettes in a wood burning stove?

Yes, briquettes are a fantastic fuel for a wood burning stove and are an alternative to high quality logs.  Similar to logs, some briquettes can also be broken up to provide a kindling option when lighting a fire.

How do you use wood briquettes?

In the same way as you would with a log fire, you would use smaller pieces of briquette as kindling to encourage the flame, adding larger pieces once the fire begins to establish.  Look out for high quality wood briquettes that will allow you to break off smaller pieces without crumbling.

Are briquettes better than logs?

Briquettes create a different type of fire to logs and can allow you to build a fire which fits with your needs.  For example, if you want a fire that is quickly alight and has a good heat output, you could select a briquette which would offer you that.  Another type of briquette might give you a long lasting fire which may even stay aglow overnight making it a practical choice in a space where the fire is the main heat source.  Briquettes can also be burned alongside logs, giving you flexibility around the type of fuel you want to use.

Most briquettes have less than 10% moisture, however the best quality briquettes have less than 5% moisture, making them a highly efficient form of fuel. Lower moisture fuels light quicker and burn more effectively, meaning you make fewer trips to top up the stove, saving money and effort. In addition to this, briquettes can save you storage space compared to logs as one of the best quality briquettes is roughly the energy equivalent of 3 - 4 traditional logs. Similar to logs, it is essential that briquettes are kept dry as they are very vulnerable to any moisture.  If wood briquettes get wet, they can swell up and all their fantastic benefits will be lost.

Benefits of wood briquettes

Wood briquettes are quickly gaining a reputation as a fuel of choice for many people and it’s easy to see why.  The benefits include:

  • They’re a cost effective form of fuel for a log burner.  For every pound spent on fuel, wood briquettes produce 50% more heat compared to logs
  • They are chimney and flue friendly.  The low moisture content reduces the chances of your chimney or flue becoming clogged compared to higher moisture fuels
  • They take up less storage space than traditional logs
  • They are easy to light and can provide a long lasting fire
  • They are a more environmentally friendly form of fuel than fossil fuels and they are often made from wood which would otherwise end up in landfill
  • They are odourless and produce very little ash and smoke
  • They are a flexible form of fuel which can be used indoors, outdoors and in combination with logs

Are briquettes bad for you?

No, good quality wood briquettes use only 100% wood so are the equivalent of making a fire with high quality, kiln dried logs.  Wood briquettes are also odourless and give off very little smoke. Sometimes wood briquettes can be confused with charcoal briquettes which give off carbon dioxide as they burn and should not be used indoors.  Burning charcoal briquettes is best suited to barbecues and other outdoor activities.  Wood briquettes are a more flexible fuel as they can be used indoors and outdoors and can fuel your stove, campfire and chiminea.

Are wood briquettes smokeless?

Wood briquettes are not a smokeless fuel.  However, if you are in a smoke controlled area and have a DEFRA approved appliance, then you can burn high quality briquettes.  This is all to do with the low moisture content in dense and dry briquettes which minimises any smoke produced.

How do I store wood briquettes?

Careful storage of wood briquettes is essential as exposure to any moisture will cause them to expand and will ruin their burning efficiency.  Ideally, they should be stored indoors in as dry an environment as possible.  If they need to be stored in a building such as a garage, then elevating them up off the ground and safely away from any dripping water will help to protect your briquettes.