Holiday Break #11 The Cleaner, Greener Fire

in Air Quality,Build Green - Air

The occasion, special. The fire, delightful.

On this ‘almost-complete’ edition of our 12-part series, set the mood with your fireplace and worry less about pollution and impacting your neighborhood air quality.

Soon families will be snuggling up in front of a roasting fire to open gifts. (Got those stockings hung yet?) If you want to avoid messy dirty cord wood, your eco-friendly firewood alternative is man-made compressed logs.

Engineered Fire Logs

Alternative fire fuel isn’t’ a new idea. Brown coal lignite bricks, for instance, have been burned in Europe for generations.  Today, the basic principles remain the same: leftover wood, sawdust, nutshells, and agricultural fibers that used to be treated as waste is mixed with wax and/or compressed into bricks, ‘split wood’ or logs.

While they produce heat, engineered fire products are not quite as hot as regular cord wood, but they burn much longer. Compressed logs for example contain about the same btu content as a cord of Douglas fir or Pitch pine.

American-made fire logs may be burned in all types of open-hearth fireplaces and are UL Classified for use in UL Listed factory-built fireplaces. Others may be burned in wood stoves or wood furnaces.

Here are some improved earth-friendly choices:

  • Long burning, Brightest Flames Log: Duraflame Gold Biggest, brightest flames for 3 to 4 hours. Listed by maker as an accepted product with the Chimney Safety Institute of America.
  • Crackling Fire LogDuraflame Stax Shaped like split wood and can be used in wood stoves. Burns with the same charred appearance and crackling sounds of a wood fire but produces half the pollutants of an equivalent wood fire. Start with two then add another log later to prolong the life of the fire.
  • Carefree wood stove/furnace use: Eco-Bricks are pressed hardwood sawdust briquettes or bricks that burn longer than the same weight in firewood logs.
  • Campfire and Cooking logs Duraflame Roasting Logs burn 60% cleaner than firewood. Made of wood charcoal, recycled sawdust and bio-wax. One 5 lb. bundle of 4 logs compares to a typical 24 lb. bundle of firewood.

Compact to Store and Less Mess

Overall, engineered fire logs are easier to light and take up less storage space. Much cleaner to handle than dirty, bug-prone cordwood, these products don’t require seasoning and are ready to burn right away.

Bricks and Crackling Fire Logs start best when you kindle a fire under them just like any fire wood. While they do produce creosote, very little ash is left behind.

Cleaner Air

Fire logs are more efficient and burn more completely than firewood so significantly fewer pollutants are emitted than a comparable wood fire. Makers claim 80% less fine particles; 75% less carbon monoxide; 90% less hazardous air pollutants.

One Clean Air Agency enlisted scientists at Omni Environmental Services to test Duraflame logs air emissions against Douglas fir cord wood. They found the engineered logs emitted less than half as much volatile organic compounds (VOC), less than a quarter of carbon monoxide, and one-third of total particles as did the fir-fueled fire.

Part of the Christmas magic for me as a kid was laying in the dark under the tree by the fireplace and watching the lights dance across the ceiling. It was pure holiday delight for me!

What fireplace memories do you have?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

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Kenroy Home 91685PN Aerial 5 Light Chandelier May 8, 2014 at 11:20 pm

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admin June 3, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Thanks for the heads up – Internet Explorer can be finicky to format at times.

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