Using Briquettes in Your Stove

Q: Which woodfuel can give great performance from your woodburner at least cost?

A: Try briquettes.

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What are Wood Briquettes?

Hotmax briquettes break down easily Wood briquettes (not to be confused with coal or charcoal briquettes) are a woodfuel made from compressed dry sawdust and/or wood chips, They will usually have less than 10% moisture content.

 

Why Use Briquettes?

  • Easy to use and transport
  • Easy to store (keep them dry!)
  • Lights up quickly
  • Breaks up easily for smaller stoves
  • For heat output, they typically are more cost-effective than logs
  • Odourless, they are great for open fire cooking
  • Use them alone or with firewood
  • Very little smoke
  • Very little ash

Forged Under Pressure

They are made by compressing wood in specialist machines under many tonnes of pressure. The pressure liquifies the lignin in the wood, and it is this which binds the sawdust/woodchips together.

Different Types of Fuel Briquettes

There is a wide range of 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

Checking Briquettes for Quality

Briquettes are not all made to the same quality and there can be big differences in products given this name.

  • As a result 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.
  • Also check that 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 have glue 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 – they are truly awful and absolutely stink; we definitely recommend these are best avoided!

How To Use Briquettes in a Wood or Multifuel Stove

Briquettes in a wood stoveJust 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 woodfuel, 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 woodfuel, usually denser than any native UK hardwood and with a lower moisture content. They are not as high in heat energy as coal, but they are the closest woodfuel 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 woodburner 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 logs or to burn them by themselves. If we’ve done our sums correctly on calorific value, moisture content and price, they typically provide more heat for your money than a similar weight of logs.

You can also use briquettes for a very good campfire, barbeque or other outdoor and open fires.

Storing Briquettes

Because our 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 the packaging to keep the briquettes dry if left outside in the rain. The plastic sacks can be easily torn or punctured. A good log store will suffice.

Buy Briquettes Online

We’ve checked out a number of the briquettes on the market and have settled on 3 different brands:

  • Hotmax (small recycled softwood briquettes)
  • Verdo (large softwood briquettes made from virgin timber)

We have also put together bundle: a carefully matched balance of logs and briquettes for the best of both worlds.

If you’d like to give them a try, individual packs can be bought at our Stroud and Frampton Cotterell showrooms, or added to your firewood order. Bulk purchases for home delivery can also be made here on our website.

More about Briquettes