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Charmain Ponnuthurai’s next essay explores The Language of Objects.

He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as engravers, designers,
embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them
skilled workers and designers. Exodus 35:35

When I walk around my local neighbourhood, my eye is often caught by left objects atop walls or steps. These can range from toys to books to Tupperware and all the familiar bric-a-brac that makes up the tapestry of our daily experiences. We can perhaps imagine what stories these objects might tell us. The tactility, placement and presence of objects hold a language of their own. Our first steps in the world without the immediate use of language can be witnessed in the gestures of small infants as they chew, lick pick up any object around them. We ascertain that some objects are more favourable to them than others, simply by perception but without any confirmation through language from the child.

In his TED Lecture ‘The Secret Language of Objects’, academic, designer and consultant Craig Sampson, shares his belief that objects in themselves create subroutines, (1) a term most commonly used in computer engineering, in which objects themselves define and evolve the way we interact. Taking simple everyday items like the door knob which was invented only within the last hundred years, he explains that we use our multitude of senses when we approach even the simplest of everyday objects, such as say with a pen that we click to release the nib: do we see, hear or feel this interaction? This multi-sensory method of engaging with objects, Sampson suggests, creates a language of its own, communicated in part by the designers of these objects whose work informs not only function but their own sensibilities.

If we accept this notion that objects create their own language, maybe we can understand why they take on such meaning in our lives. This meaning ascribes to holding longevity, as they connect to the multisensory nature of memory itself. In the book Handbuilt by Potter Lilly Maetzig, she describes this vividly in a memory of eating porridge with her grandparents in New Zealand. “I felt as though we were digging for treasure. Each spoonful was an uncovering, one bite closer. At the bottom of the shallow bowl was the stark blue and white icon that I know as the willow pattern. It was the fact that I was able to eat off the willow pieces that I found so enticing and special.”

(1) COMPUTING a set of instructions designed to perform a frequently used operation within a program.
 

We find so many of our memories are formed around what may simply be described as perfunctory or material objects. There is a sense that objects, though themselves without language, can openly communicate. The setting of a fire, for example, invokes not only a feeling of warmth but changes the whole atmosphere of the moment. Objects like wood-burning stoves go beyond their functional purpose; they work to frame and change our daily experiences. The experience of the three bears in the fairy story Goldilocks saw them suspecting an uninvited visitor simply by nudges in the placement of their seating arrangements, rather than the disappearance of the porridge itself. In nature, we see the careful arrangement of say the Coots’ nest and the protective gestures by the mother and father as one guards the nest and the other collects added layers of comfort. Whilst we may not understand the language of birds, we can see that the interaction of coots passing each other twigs as a clear sign of building their home.

The language of objects can also be used as a form of protest to represent identity. In Ahmedabad, Mahatma Gandhi wove Khadi, a handspun and handwoven fabric. Gandhi believed that Khadi was not just a fabric but a means to connect the people of India to their roots, to the rural villages, and to the dignity of labour. Today we face a global refugee crisis that raises many questions about identity and currently affects 170 million people who are globally displaced. One story captured on the 21st of June for World Refugee Day is that of a woman who, out of all her possessions, chose to save her tea set. When asked why she saved that in particular, she replied that it meant that she might one day be able to share tea with others. The study indicates that refugees show the greatest kindness and human empathy and through the stripping back of every sense of home; it’s a testament to this empathy that the sharing of tea informed her decisions of which object to save.

Our deep connection with the objects we surround ourselves with is reflected by Potter Steve Harrison, who believes that an eclectic collection of objects allows for a richness not found in the uniformity of object collection. “For me, using a variety of exquisite and special objects every day creates a richness born from a feeling of familiarity and becomes something I cannot live without. An eclectic mix of pots brought together out of necessity allows for individual pieces to take on a special meaning, not through any intent, but simply because it happened that way. Change occurs when you see the same thing with infinite possibilities. Only through using them freely and without concern can their beauty be revealed. Picasso said ‘Appreciate objects and eat them alive’”

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In today’s fast-paced world, stress and anxiety have become commonplace. While there are many ways to combat these issues, you may be surprised to learn that a wood-burning stove can have a profoundly positive impact on your mental fitness and wellbeing.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the ways lighting a wood-burning stove can benefit mental fitness, including reducing stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation and mindfulness. With Mental Health Awareness Week approaching (15-21 May), there’s no better time to explore this simple yet highly effective technique.

How lighting a wood burning stove can support mental fitness   

A wood-burning stove is more than just a source of heat and can support mental fitness in multiple ways. The experience of making a fire, followed by the warmth and soothing crackling sounds it generates, creates a calming and meditative atmosphere that promotes relaxation and reduces stress. Focusing on the process of lighting and maintaining the fire can also help shift the mind away from negative thoughts and distractions.  

Wood burning can also provide a sense of purpose and connection to a timeless practice that has the potential to bring people together. Studies have shown how hearth and campfires can influence arterial blood pressure and defray the costs of the social brain through fireside relaxation. Here is a section from the study:  

‘Results indicated consistent blood pressure decreases in the fire-with-sound condition, particularly with a longer duration of stimulus, and enhancing effects of absorption and prosociality. Findings confirm that hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a multisensory, absorptive, and social experience.’ 

By incorporating wood burning into your self-care routine, you can enjoy a mindful and fulfilling experience that promotes mental fitness and overall wellbeing. 

The physical/mental fitness benefits of wood burning   

As well as providing a source of heat that is both sustainable and environmentally friendly, wood-burning can also benefit physical health. Chopping and carrying wood requires physical activity that can help improve cardiovascular health and build muscle strength.  

These benefits to physical fitness have a positive knock-on effect to one’s mental fitness: 

“There is a growing body of literature that recognizes the positive effects of exercise on mood states such as anxiety, stress and depression, through physiological and biochemical mechanisms…” 

https://www.maturitas.org/article/S0378-5122(17)30856-3/fulltext 

Additionally, the unique bone warming heat produced by your wood-stove promotes physical activity as it is a great way to ease any aches and pains of the day. For example, a long winter walk is far more tempting when you know you have a warm fire to cosy up to when you get home. 

 

Wood burning as a type of mindfulness   

Lighting a fire and tending to it requires a level of patience, focus, and attention to detail that can bring a real sense of calm and centeredness. 

As the flames flicker and the wood crackles, it’s easy to become absorbed in the sensory experience of the fire and let go of distracting thoughts or worries. This type of mindfulness practice can be particularly beneficial for those who struggle with anxiety or stress.  

 

How to get started  

With the fire lit, sit comfortably with eyes open or closed and try focusing on the sound of the crackling wood and the warmth of the flames. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment and let go of any distracting thoughts as they arise and simply return your attention to the fire. 

Explore how to successfully light a fire pit.

 

Wood burning Increases bonding and improves relationships 

Gathering around the fire with family and friends provides a sense of warmth, comfort, and connection that is often missing in our fast-paced, technology-driven world.  

Invite friends or family to join you around the fire and enjoy the warmth and connection that it can provide. You’ll be surprised how much more the conversation flows when there is a fire crackling in the background! 

Here are some quotes from some Charnwood customers: 

“My grandchildren ask for the fire to be on when they are having a hot chocolate on a frosty day.” 

“Winter evenings with friends. Whenever we have visitors during the winter, we always make sure the stove is running as this usually ensures nobody will request the television be turned on, leading to an altogether much nicer atmosphere with people actually chatting and engaging much more, rather than staring at the screen.” 

“Chopping wood is a great way to relieve stress! Everyone congregates around the fire and the children like to help with the kindling etc. It just creates a special atmosphere.” 

“The stove is the catalyst for family bonding, which helps with relaxation & mood improvement. It helps to unwind after a days exertions at work.” 

“You can just gaze into the fire and be taken away from the stresses of work. It gives opportunity for the family to come together and talk. Talking just seems to come easier when siting around the stove.” 

Source: The Charnwood Wellbeing Survey 2021.

 

Increased energy security lowers stress 

A wood-burning stove also has some very practical ways of reducing common life stressors. With energy prices going up and supply issues still a real concern, a wood-burning stove provides a great way to mitigate both worries. 

Here are some more Charnwood customer quotes: 

 “We love our log burner. It makes us feel warm, safe and secure. It helps heat the whole house, which has proved an asset in power cuts. Nothing beats sitting in the living room with the warmth of the fire in the depths of winter.” 

“Lighting the stove after a walk by the sea during winter is a joyful experience. Has helped to alleviate the worry of power failures as we live in an area prone to electricity outage during bad weather. Just knowing that we have our lovely stove for independent heat and low light is fab.” 

“As an electric only house, we wanted a plan b during a power cut to heat the home” 

“Having a wood burner means I am less vulnerable in power cuts. I can still have heating, boil a kettle, cook food if I need to.” 

Read more about the wellbeing benefits of stoves here .

 

Don’t forget!

Ensure you use best wood-burning stove practices to save money, reduce emissions and to stay safe! Read more here 

Look out for the Woodsure Ready to Burn label which guarantees a moisture content of 20% or less. 

For a list of approved firewood sellers in your area click here. 

 

Why Choose Us?

At Charnwood Stoves, we believe in enhancing your home environment and your well-being. Our wood-burning stoves are meticulously crafted to provide warmth, comfort, and a sense of tranquillity. With a focus on mental fitness, our stoves offer more than just heat; they create a soothing ambiance that can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Our team prioritise sustainability and efficiency, ensuring our products are eco-friendly and cost-effective. Choose Charnwood for a reliable, high-quality stove that supports your mental health and enriches your living space. Experience the perfect blend of functionality, style, and well-being with Charnwood.

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With such high demand for wood-burning stoves, particularly in the colder months, now is an ideal time to prepare for next year. We highly recommend purchasing through an official Charnwood stockist where you can be assured of excellent after-care, and you will also qualify for our dealer-backed 10-year guarantee. 

Bonus: Podcasts that contribute to our mental fitness 

Mo Gawdat:  

https://www.mogawdat.com/podcast 

Andrew Huberman: 

https://hubermanlab.com/welcome-to-the-huberman-lab-podcast/ 

Diary of a CEO: 

https://stevenbartlett.com/the-diary-of-a-ceo-podcast/ 

Rich Roll: 

https://www.richroll.com/all-episodes/ 

 

Disclaimer: The content in this blog is not a replacement for professional medical advice. Please always contact your GP for help with any mental health issues. 

 

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The next in a series of essays by Charmain Ponnuthurai is about the joy of ‘Tiny Home Living’. Charmain (Dammy) is the author of Midnight Feasts: An Anthology of Late-night Munchies, and founder of Larder and Crane cookware.

Read to the end to find out how you can experience the joy of Tiny Home Living for yourself!

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It is He who sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants are as grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in. 

Isaiah 40:22

Anyone who has experienced camping, will be able to gauge a sense of what living in a yurt feels like. Camping in the UK is strictly governed by the weather, with the most dedicated campers battling against lashing rain, high winds and dampness. Whilst struggles with bad weather may not feel pleasant in the moment, they force us to exist entirely in the moment and sense nature – in touch, sight and sound. Even within a stormy landscape we now begin to see a seemingly infinite glimmer of light, one that we would likely not notice within the daily grind of our routine.

The first yurt dwellings, known by the Mongolians who used them as ‘Ger’, can be traced back thousands of years to Central Asia. Today over half of the Mongolian population live in Gers, meaning a life led in a far more shared and communal way than other city dwellers. In 2013, the Ger became part of Unesco’s intangible cultural heritage for Mongolian customs, reflecting the fact the innate cultural richness is both physically and inherently sewn into their homes.

The circular structure of the Ger means that it can be efficiently heated, whilst the crown of the yurt allows fresh air to circulate. The structure’s conception is directed by some of the Mongolian cultural and spiritual beliefs in terms of the sense of, ‘ the eternal blue sky’ and the principle of impermanence and embracing of the moment. The outer structure of the tent reflects the wheel of the Dharma and the principles of teaching known as the ‘Eightfold Noble Path’, (Understanding, Thought, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort,

Mindfulness and Concentration), whilst the infinity knots are about the universal interconnection between all things.

The opportunity to experience nature outside the cosseted walls of our homes is opened to us by time spent within a yurt. The interior of a yurt in its circular nature, also creates a different openness to how we interact outside of the compartmentalised ways that the dominant linear philosophy of life’s expectations sets our clocks too. Camping is almost an opportunity to renew a connection to our childhoods. Where we hopefully can recount innocent childhood pleasures such as finding that favourite stick, gathering petals, examining shells for the sound of the sea, writing and drawing freely on a myriad of surfaces, first attempting to pretend to read and the endless questions of why. Finding pleasure in puddles, collecting leaves, and enjoying the dirt of the outside world are all small infinite pleasures from childhood grounded in nature.

Young children look at the world with such untainted freshness. For them, there are no thoughts of expectation or judgement. The closest we get to such unabated joy in adulthood is the experience of mandatory snow days that come up from time to time, when nature holds society in a deep silence, like a soft canopy. With an enforced slow pace on us, as we again are captivated by the slowness that such a moment in nature gives us.

As we made our journeys to school, we begin our passage to goal setting, judgement of and by, and expectation. We are influenced not only by our family expectations, but those set by school and classmates. As the pre-teen age begins this is added to with the intensity of expectations set by a myriad of social channels. Sitting on a bus or train you can probably count on one hand the number of us that travel without the aid of some technical device that isn’t taking up our attention. This conveyor belt of existence has placed us perhaps in a gilded cage of our own making where the natural world around us, is relatively unnoticed. If a robin appears at your window and pauses, you are likely to miss the resonant joy of seeing it flitter and bring us back to childhood wonder.

Children are the ultimate minimalists; we have all heard a story where the cardboard box proves more of a play item than its contents. Minimalism and interconnectedness are two principles that go hand in hand, as a somewhat answer to the overwhelming pursuit of materialism. Minimalism considers not only the quality of an object, but the joy it brings, and subsequently reducing ownership of items that don’t meet this condition. Circular living takes this further, with the inherent goal to prevent waste and ensure that how we live is aligned to the limits of natural resource use. We look to value not necessarily productivity, but how we may share, reuse and think of regeneration and others in the way we consume. We see in circular thinking an unlimited connection to nature and a way of living that reaches out to those around us.

The Danish word ‘hygge’, shows us how we may think of the whole as a concept, at the most simplest level. Hygge means cosiness: feeling warm, comfortable, and safe. The Danes depict this sense as being achieved through such simple acts of lighting a candle, baking and spending time with people you love.

As we head to the end of the year to Christmas and the darkness of winter, light becomes increasingly important. We see it within the reassurance of a roaring fire, the lit candle, the warming oven, but most especially in the light we find in each other. That light can be found just through simple acts in thinking of others and sharing what we can give to make life brighter for all whom we encounter. We can draw that ‘Ger’ living into the walls of our own home, as we take those moments just to sit still and watch the simple magnificence that we see outside our window.

Explore our wood-burning stove tips during the winter season.

 

Why Choose Us?

At Charnwood Stoves, we blend innovative design with exceptional functionality, perfect for enhancing any living space, including tiny homes. Our wood-burning stoves are crafted with sustainability in mind, offering efficient heating solutions that minimise environmental impact. Our team prioritise quality and durability, ensuring each stove provides reliable warmth and charm for years to come. With a commitment to customer satisfaction, our expert team is here to guide you in finding the ideal stove to meet your unique needs. Choose Charnwood for elegance, efficiency, and eco-friendly living.

 

“The most important light is the one you cannot see”  Anthony Doeer

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If you haven’t read Charmain Ponnuthurai’s piece on ‘storytelling’ click here – we highly recommend it!

If you want to experience Yurt Living for yourself, in one of the most beautiful locations on the Isle of Wight, then check out our range of wonderful self-catering holiday accommodation at Moor Farm.

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It’s wonderful the weather has turned towards spring and summer, but for wood-burning stove users there can be mixed emotions about saying goodbye to the regular warmth and light of their stove. A helpful ritual this time of year is giving your stove a well-deserved Spring clean, so you know that it is ready and in perfect condition for next winter!

Read on to learn how to keep your wood-burning stove in tip-top condition.

 

Wood burning stove spring cleaning tips and guidance

Cleaning your chimney

Chimneys need regular cleaning to prevent creosote buildup and to reduce the possibility of a chimney fire. How often you clean the chimney depends on the amount you use your stove, the type of wood you burn, the type of wood-burning unit you have and the way you operate the unit. We recommend cleaning your chimney on a yearly basis as a minimum, with springtime being the perfect opportunity after a long winter.

We recommend hiring a professional chimney sweeper for the first chimney cleaning and ‘health check’. Use this as an opportunity to learn and see if this is something you would be willing to do yourself moving forward. A Charnwood stove is fitted with a drop-down throat plate allowing you to sweep through the appliance with minimum mess.

Please note if a chimney fire does occur, follow these steps to reduce your losses:

Call your local fire department immediately and give them your name and address.

If there is a fire in the stove or fireplace box, extinguish it with a multipurpose dry-chemical extinguisher. As some of the chemical travels up the chimney, it may extinguish the chimney fire.

Also explore our top tips around how to have a wood-burning stove without a chimney.

Cleaning your stove’s surface

A wood-burning stove is a great aesthetic complement to your home even when not in use. To clean the exterior of your stove, all you need is a soft brush and a vacuum cleaner to wipe away and remove any soot or dust.

If you use a cooking plate and have made a little more mess, then a stove cleaning product and a lint-free cloth works well. All cleaning is best undertaken when your stove is unlit and cool.

 

Maintaining your stove’s glass

Burning well-seasoned, dry logs on your stove will help reduce the amount of soot build up that occurs on your stove’s glass. However, occasionally soot will accumulate, especially if you have been using firewood with a moisture content over 20%.

There are a few methods that can be used to wipe away soot listed below:

· Charnwood Schott dry wiper

· Fine wood ash and damp newspaper

· WD40 and a lint-free cloth

For more details read our in depth article on how to clean wood-burning stove glass

It’s important to clean your stove’s glass frequently to reduce the amount of dirt that builds up. If you do this regularly, you won’t have to attempt scrapping stubborn dirt and risk scratching and weakening the glass surface.

 

Empty your ash pan

When leaving your stove unused for extended periods it is worth emptying out the ash pan as well as the firebox completely. Removing the throat plate and opening the air inlets allows a flow of air through the stove that helps prevent any rust forming.

With some care, any dust escape into the air can be minimised during ash removal. We recommended opening your windows for a short period afterwards to allow the air in the room to circulate.

 

Inspect the door and flue seals

Take the opportunity when cleaning your wood burning stove to inspect the rope seals on the doors and flue. The seals can succumb to everyday wear and tear, so it’s important that these are checked frequently and changed if necessary.

If these or any other parts of your stove need replacing, Charnwood offers a range of spares for all current Charnwood stoves, as well as most legacy models, in our spares shop.

 

A fresh coat of stove paint

If after inspecting your stove closely you notice some scratches or general marks of wear and tear, it is worth considering some Charnwood stove paint. Whether it’s a quick touch up or a complete colour change, we offer cans of our heat resistant stove paint in the 8 Charnwood colour options. This is a simple yet brilliant way to give your stove a new lease of life.

Before painting your stove, you should make sure that the surface is dry, clean and free from any grease. Before spraying your stove we recommend masking off the glass and handles and gently rubbing down any areas to be retouched with a Scotchbrite pad.

You can purchase Charnwood heat resistant stove paint from your local Charnwood stockist.

 

Take care of your stove so it takes care of you

Regular maintenance in conjunction with a yearly deep spring clean is the best way to extend the life of your stove and make sure that performance remains at an optimum level. When you consider all the benefits a wood-burning stove brings to our lives, it’s a no-brainer to give it the TLC it deserves so that it’s ready to keep you warm through next winter and beyond.

Also explore our wellbeing benefits of log burners.

 

Why Choose Us?

At Charnwood Stoves, we take pride in offering more than just wood-burning stoves—our team provide a lifestyle. With our unwavering commitment to quality and innovation, we deliver stoves that not only warm your home efficiently but also add timeless elegance to your living space. Backed by decades of expertise, we understand the importance of easy maintenance and durability.

Our stoves are designed to withstand the test of time, ensuring hassle-free operation and peace of mind for years to come. Choose Charnwood Stoves for reliability, performance, and the assurance of a cleaner, greener future. Join countless satisfied customers who trust Charnwood for their heating needs.

Get in touch with our team today.

 

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There is a misconception among some in the media that people are installing wood-burning stoves purely for aesthetic appeal. However, the reality is there are many reasons including energy independence and security, significant well-benefits, supplementing other renewables, off grid living etc. The fact a wood-burning stove looks nice and makes a home feel like a home is usually just a bonus.

 

Well-being benefits  

When people do talk about ‘aesthetics’, however, they are often underestimating just how sizable this benefit can be. The Charnwood Wellbeing Survey 2021 showed wood-burning stove owners enjoyed significant well-being benefits. While this is connected to how a stove ‘looks and feels’ the effects on the people and families are far from superficial. 

Studies have shown how hearth and campfires can influence arterial blood pressure and defray the costs of the social brain through fireside relaxation. Here is a section from the study: 

‘Results indicated consistent blood pressure decreases in the fire-with-sound condition, particularly with a longer duration of stimulus, and enhancing effects of absorption and prosociality. Findings confirm that hearth and campfires induce relaxation as part of a multisensory, absorptive, and social experience.’ 

Here are some quotes from Charnwood customers discussing the well-being benefits of their stoves. 

“You can just gaze into the fire and be taken away from the stresses of work. It gives opportunity for the family to come together and talk. Talking just seems to come easier when siting around the stove.” 

“Watching the stove in full display is almost hypnotic and has great relaxing properties. It also has a back to nature feel and without any electrical devices in the room is perfect for de-stressing.” 

“Fire is deep within the human psyche and sits in a happy place in our limbic brain. You get lost from the day to day in a fire – it’s a little bit of wilderness in the order of the day to day.” 

“The stove just provides a much-needed atmosphere on a cold winter’s night. You feel relaxed, cosy and there is something about it that just welcomes you into the living room. I couldn’t live without it.” 

Find out more about the wellbeing benefits of log burners.

Energy Security (Stoves provide a real sense of security) 

There are many other wellbeing benefits that come from owning a stove including the peace of mind people get from feeling they have proper energy security. 

“We love our log burner. It makes us feel warm, safe and secure. It helps heat the whole house, which has proved an asset in power cuts. Nothing beats sitting in the living room with the warmth of the fire in the depths of winter.” 

 “Lighting the stove after a walk by the sea during winter is a joyful experience. Has helped to alleviate the worry of power failures as we live in an area prone to electricity outage during bad weather. Just knowing that we have our lovely stove for independent heat and low light is fab.” 

 “Back up for central heating given no of power outages,” 

 “As an electric-only house, we wanted a plan b during a power cut to heat the home” 

 “more efficient than previous coal fire and, in extremis, if gas supply fails or is too expensive, will provide warmth.” 

 “Having a wood burner means I am less vulnerable in power cuts. I can still have heating, boil a kettle, cook food if I need to.” 

As you can see, even when considering just the aesthetic appeal of wood-burning stoves, this isn’t purely a superficial quality as some with agendas would like you to believe. The well-being benefits associated with wood burning, even infrequently, are significant and provide people with an important tool for dealing with stress and extracting greater joy from daily life. 

Also explore how a wood-burning stove can help reduce your energy bills.


People install a wood-burning stove for the multiple benefits outlined below. The fact there are so many is the REAL reason people choose to install a wood-burning stove. 

-Renewable source of energy  

-Local fuel 

-Lower start-up costs 

-Independent of weather variability 

-Supports other renewables 

-Promotes sustainable living practices 

-Provides energy independence & security 

-Significant well-being benefits 

-AND YES, they look great too! 

We understand the well-publicised desire to improve PM 2.5 emissions from all areas of society, including wood burning. However, modern wood-burning stoves are part of the solution, and it would be far more productive to acknowledge ALL their benefits and not look to invent narratives to manipulate public discourse. 

There’s no denying that a wood-burning stove looks great, but it is far more important to acknowledge how it makes you feel. 

 

Why Choose Us?

At Charnwood Stoves, we understand the allure of a wood-burning stove extends far beyond mere functionality. Our commitment to quality craftsmanship and timeless design ensures that each stove we produce not only provides efficient heating but also becomes a centerpiece of warmth and comfort in your home. With decades of experience in the industry, we pride ourselves on delivering stoves that blend tradition with innovation, offering sustainable heating solutions that stand the test of time.

Choose Charnwood for unparalleled reliability, exceptional performance, and the assurance that your investment will enhance your living space for years to come. Join countless homeowners who have made the decision to elevate their lifestyle with a Charnwood wood-burning stove.

 

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This blog is a review and closer look at the results of the Charnwood Wellbeing Survey 2021. A survey of over 1200 wood-burning stove users and the impact of stoves on their wellbeing. The vast majority of stoves owned by participants utilise Charnwood’s modern clean-burn technology and are EcoDesign ready.

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In recent years we have seen a move towards a greater understanding in society of mental health and the need for self-care. The lockdowns only brought this more into focus and it was no coincidence that stove sales rose steeply during this time. It was clear from our conversations with customers that there was a strong relationship between owning a stove and a happier home.

We recently conducted a survey of stove users to better understand the significant and unique benefits that wood-burning stoves provide their owners and family’s wellbeing. The response was phenomenal with 1227 users (we thank you all) providing deep insight into the wider benefits of owning and using a stove.

A whopping 93% replied, definitively, that their stove has a positive impact on their wellbeing, while the bar graph below shows the range of ways these benefits manifest.

Participants were then asked to elaborate on their choices, and we were overwhelmed with the response. You can view the Charnwood Wellbeing Survey Results here.

Here are some of the best responses that provide some wonderfully deep insight into life with a stove.

The benefits of a wood-burning stove to wellbeing

“The wrap round warmth the fire provides improves the feeling of well-being that no other heating system seems to provide.”

“The world seems much better with a stove! It has huge mental health benefit, particularly during pandemic “

“I live alone and work a very stressful and emotionally draining job. Coming home to my stove provides so much comfort, even in the absence of having someone to come home to. Literally couldn’t live without it.”

“I find the process of building and lighting the fire therapeutic and sitting watching the flames is very relaxing.”

“It helps me to switch off after work and also to consider things more clearly and calmly. It seems to warm my soul as well as my feet!”

Increases bonding and improves relationships

“My grandchildren ask for the fire to be on when they are having a hot chocolate on a frosty day.”

“Winter evenings with friends. Whenever we have visitors during the winter, we always make sure the stove is running as this usually ensures nobody will request the television be turned on, leading to an altogether much nicer atmosphere with people actually chatting and engaging much more, rather than staring at the screen.”

“After a day of sledging and building snowmen and having snowball fights with the family it was very relaxing and comforting for us all to warm up in front of the fire.”

“Chopping wood is a great way to relieve stress! Everyone congregates around the fire and the children like to help with the kindling etc. It just creates a special atmosphere.”

“The stove is the catalyst for family bonding, which helps with relaxation & mood improvement. It helps to unwind after a days exertions at work.”

“You can just gaze into the fire and be taken away from the stresses of work. It gives opportunity for the family to come together and talk. Talking just seems to come easier when siting around the stove.”

Digital detox – an antidote to the digital age

“Helps to switch off from the technology that takes over our everyday lives. You feel a sense of achievement when the first sparks ignite.”

“It’s extremely relaxing to sit by the fire and watch the flames dance away. So much so in fact, that we opted to cancel our Netflix subscription and we simply don’t watch it any longer. We’d much rather sit and watch the fire instead!”

“Sitting round the fire has become a special tradition. We’ve removed our technology from the living room and now have the fire and bookcase”

“We watch the flames not the TV (even the dog likes to sit and stare)”

“I sit on the sofa watching the flames. It’s better than watching tv”

“Mesmerising flame watching takes us away from our worries and concerns. The room has a focus that isn’t a screen and gives warmth with it.”

Stoves provide a real sense of security

“We love our log burner. It makes us feel warm, safe and secure. It helps heat the whole house, which has proved an asset in power cuts. Nothing beats sitting in the living room with the warmth of the fire in the depths of winter.”

“Lighting the stove after a walk by the sea during winter is a joyful experience. Has helped to alleviate the worry of power failures as we live in an area prone to electricity outage during bad weather. Just knowing that we have our lovely stove for independent heat and low light is fab.”

“Back up for central heating given no of power outages,”

“As an electric only house, we wanted a plan b during a power cut to heat the home”

“more efficient than previous coal fire and, in extremis, if gas supply fails or is too expensive, will provide warmth.”

“Having a wood burner means I am less vulnerable in power cuts. I can still have heating, boil a kettle, cook food if I need to.”

They cultivate a deeper connection to nature

“Worked in forestry for 36 years, just a natural thing to do, can’t beat a real fire.”

“Chopping and stacking wood is very calming and lets my mind focus on that one task. Building, lighting and getting the fire to the perfect temperature does the same and gives a real sense of achievement. It all makes me feel closer to nature.”

“For me, sitting around a real fire has a deep connection to something ancient.”

“There’s something deeply Primeval about lighting a fire and benefiting from its heat. Every time you light it there is a deep sense of satisfaction”

“Splitting logs gets me outside and keeps me active, which is good for my body and mind. There’s also a great sense of satisfaction in getting the wood pile ready for winter, and I’ve also learned a lot about different types of wood and how to manage trees sustainably.”

“Watching the stove in full display is almost hypnotic and has great relaxing properties. It also has a back to nature feel and without any electrical devices in the room is perfect for de stressing.”

Also find out the top 5 garden fire pit benefits.

Making special occasions even more special

“Christmas Day spent with all the family and grandchildren gathered around our stove brings happy memories all year round.”

“Christmas especially. The stove just provides a much-needed atmosphere on a cold winters night. You feel relaxed, cosy and there is something about it that just welcomes you into the living room. I couldn’t live without it.”

“It’s a ritual on Christmas morning to rekindle the stove, and to unwrap the presents without a fire is unthinkable. There’s something magical about children in their pyjamas sitting on the rug in the cosy space in front of a blazing stove.”

“My young nephew visited at Christmas & we built the fire together. It was the first time he had ever lit a real fire. We celebrated with toasting marshmallows! It wasn’t just building a fire – it was building a memory.”

Conclusion

This survey is the first of its kind (that we know of at least) and brings real weight to the argument in favour of wood-burning stoves beyond their already strong heating and environmental credentials. When having the debate on the viability of various home heating solutions, we should recognise the powerful effects that wood-burning stoves have on wellbeing – effects that no other heat source can replicate.

If mental health and wellbeing are, as we believe, important considerations that are rightfully getting more attention, then it is vital that this is properly considered when arguing for and against all types of energy solutions. Let’s be clear, the experiences discussed above are nothing short of what makes life worth living – we shouldn’t downplay or underestimate the important role wood-burning stoves play in people’s lives and the positive knock-on effect to society.

Find out more about the wellbeing benefits of log-burners.

 

Why Choose Us?

Charnwood stands out as your premier choice for wood-burning stoves, offering unparalleled benefits for your wellbeing and home environment. Here’s why you should choose us:

1/ Premium Craftsmanship: Our stoves are crafted with precision and care, ensuring durability, efficiency, and timeless aesthetic appeal for your living space.

2/ Health and Comfort: Experience the soothing warmth and ambiance of our stoves, promoting relaxation and comfort while creating a cosy atmosphere for you and your loved ones.

3/ Eco-Conscious Design: We prioritise sustainability, offering stoves that are eco-friendly and energy-efficient, contributing to a healthier planet while enhancing your indoor air quality.

4/ Trusted Heritage: With a legacy of excellence spanning generations, Charnwood Stoves is a trusted name synonymous with quality, reliability, and customer satisfaction.

Choose Charnwood Stoves for superior craftsmanship, unparalleled comfort, and a commitment to your wellbeing through our wood burning stoves.

 

Read More:

The Truth About Wood Burning Stoves and Air Quality

charnwoodstoves

We’re thrilled to report back on another successful show at Progetto Fuoco, one of Europe’s if not the world’s most important biomass heating fairs. This year’s event took place from February 28th to March 2nd, and was held in Verona, Italy. There was a huge turnout and a renewed sense of optimism within the biomass heating sector.

Our team, alongside our fantastic Italian partners Zetalinea, were delighted to showcase our full range of products to an enthusiastic audience. This included our popular Bodj fireplace accessories, the ever-reliable and beautiful Vlaze heat shields and hearth plates, and of course, our impressive selection of British made wood-burning stoves!

The Charnwood Skye E700 EU Debut

 

This year’s star attraction was undoubtedly the debut of our brand-new Skye E700 wood burning stove, which wowed attendees. The Skye E700 is a new intelligent micro processor controlled stove set to revolutionize the way we burn wood. Load the fire, close the door, set your room temperature using the Charnwood app and let the stove do the rest. Maximising efficiency is now as simple as that – we can’t wait to see how this game-changer impacts the industry! 

High efficiency heating & cooking  

 

The Haven, Charnwood’s newest cook-stove also received considerable interest, attracting visitors with its stylish looks and impressive 90% efficiency rating. This translates to a coveted 5-star rating in the Italian market, solidifying the Haven as one of the cleanest burning and most efficient models available today. 

Combining the charm and functionality of a traditional range with the very latest efficiencies and clean burn technology the Haven features an oven, hot plate and a large glass window for a beautiful view of the fire. The integrated thermometer allows for greater temperature control and cooking accuracy. It offers a surprisingly versatile and delicious way of cooking, allowing you to create soups, roasts, cakes, bakes and more! 

Enhancing your fireplace with style and safety 

 

Beyond the impressive stoves themselves, on display were a range of complementary products to elevate your fireplace experience. Among these were the stunning Vlaze heat shields and hearth plates, designed and crafted in Britain by our very own A.J. Wells & Sons.  

Vlaze boasts a luxurious, porcelain enamel surface that comes in a variety of designer finishes and sizes. This exceptional material is not only beautiful but also incredibly durable, withstanding extreme heat to safeguard your home. Vlaze is the original and best wood burning stove heat shield and the perfect Charnwood pairing. 

Bodj fireside 

 
Bodj fireside accessories are handmade, sustainably sourced, and beautifully designed for the ethical and style-conscious home. The Lotus log holder (pictured above) is based on the petals of a Lotus flower. This sculptural log holder is both stylish and ergonomic. The ironwork frame is tightly woven with rattan and is ideal for logs and kindling. It goes so well with your Charnwood stove! 

A huge thank you 

Finally, we want to thank everyone who visited our stand throughout the event. Your enthusiasm and interest in our products continue to inspire us.  A special thanks goes out to the Progetto Fuoco team and to our partners Zeta Linea for their continued collaboration and support. We can’t wait to do it all again with you!  

Don’t forget to check out the video from the event

Progetto Fuoco 2024 from AJ Wells & Sons Ltd on Vimeo.

 

charnwoodstoves

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of talk on wood burning centered around ‘No Burn Night’. 

As a stove manufacturer we certainly have a vested interest and have been pushing back on claims which we have felt to be unfair, misleading or untrue. Much of this debate has spilt over onto social media where it has often been less than savoury! Of course, we all know that social media is never the best place to have these in-depth discussions. 

Often in debates we tend to try and demonise our opposition, we try to (mis)represent their arguments on our terms, often to discredit their motives, and aim to crush them and be the victors of the argument. We saw this during the Brexit debate, on both sides, – issues were simplified, positions were demonised, mistruths were told, and it is probably fair to say from whatever perspective you come from, that the results have been a bit of a disaster. When it comes to the debate on air quality it is too important to allow this to happen. So, what if we take a different approach? What if we tried to believe the best in each other and the motivations behind what we are all trying to achieve?! 

There is a risk here – surely if we try and understand the other side, give them the benefit of the doubt even, won’t they take advantage and undermine our position further? Surely, the first rule of negotiation is to go in hard and then maybe meet in the middle. Well maybe, but what if we try to do things differently? Indeed, the prize is surely one worth having as this debate centers around an important issue: the environment and more specifically air quality. Something that we all believe is vitally important. 

What are the arguments on both sides?  

One of the first Charnwood stoves replacing a more polluting open fire 

In writing this, we are aware that we approach this from a position of vested interest, so let’s start with us. We manufacture, amongst other things, wood burning stoves and have done so for around 50 years. We employ around 180 people here on the Isle of Wight and export to around 20 countries. We are a family business and work with other small, often family-run businesses up and down the country who sell and install our stoves. We started making stoves because there was an oil crisis and at the end of the 1970s, Dutch Elm disease had killed many trees. This wood was often burnt on open fires, which was neither efficient or clean. That inspired the founders to start making stoves to burn the wood better. Over the years we have found ways to dramatically improve performance, so we get more heat and less smoke from the wood we burn. 

But why burn wood at all?  

Well, wood is a plentiful natural and renewable resource that reduces our reliance on fossil fuels. It has been used for heating and other things for millennia. Forest management is also vitally important – well-managed woodland is good for biodiversity and is lost if it is not managed well. We also see forest fires tragically result from not managing forests, such as those in California. 

Energy has, throughout history, been the key to power – the British empire was built on coal. Then came oil and we saw the rise of America, Russia and the Middle East. As we move into a low carbon economy, we see access to rare earth metals that make batteries as critical, and it is China who have taken the lead in this race. Those who control access to energy hold power. But wood is different and it’s plentiful which means it cannot be controlled by any large player. 

In this image a modern ultra-efficient Charnwood Island Stove has replaced an open fire

So, clearly, we think wood has many advantages. “Of course you do”, you might say! But we are also aware that to heat from wood it needs to be burnt, and burning things creates smoke. In the UK, traditionally it has been open fires which have been the primary method of heating, and it has always been our argument that burning on a stove is far better – more efficient and with significantly less emissions (3). Over the years we have continued to invest in equipment to keep improving even further.  

SO, what is the problem with wood? 

If we look at those that don’t like wood burning we hear a very different story. It is perhaps unfair of us to try and explain the opposite position, but notwithstanding our obvious bias, we will try and Steel Man their position: Wood when burnt produces, amongst other things PM2.5 – these are small particles that are not good for us and when breathed it can cause health problems. These health problems are hotly debated as the body will deal with a certain amount of PM2.5 (and different types) but it is claimed that it can cause respiratory disease, and even dementia. In fact, all types of burning will produce these particles to greater and lesser extents. The term PM2.5 describes the size of the particle rather than the composition, and its composition depends on what is being burnt. More research is needed to understand the relative toxicity of the different types of particles. If we take the position that there is no safe level of PM2.5 then logically it must follow that we should not burn things – and wood is included in this. 

What do anti-wood burners think of pro wood burners   

Again, this is difficult to answer and there are many views. But it is probably fair to say that they think we are an industry with vested interests whose desire to make money overrides the damage we do to the environment and air quality. Of course on a local and personal level if you are living next to someone who is creating a lot of smoke by burning wood badly, maybe on an open fire, old appliance, using bad wood or even unregulated burning outside it is really not pleasant and rightly this should be stopped.

What do pro-wood burning people think of anti-wood burners 

It is easier for us to answer this one! We often feel misrepresented and frustrated by the lack of distinction between different types of wood burning. Wood burnt on a stove will generally be much cleaner than that of wood burnt on an open fire or outdoor appliance. It is essential to differentiate between various forms of wood-burning. Chief Medical Advisor Chris Whitty in his report acknowledges this saying, “For air pollution emissions, there is substantial difference between the different open fire and stove designs, the age of the appliance and how well maintained it is, and the moisture content of the wood, for those who want to burn wood.”(2) 

We can often also feel aggrieved because for us (and some other stove companies) the reason we got into making stoves was to improve air quality and the environment. So, we feel as if we are being shoved out of our own party! We want to improve air quality by better burning, and we feel through misrepresentation we are frustrated in this mission. We strongly believe that we are at risk of seeing air quality worsen by not getting people to burn better.   

Ecodesign-compliant stoves are up to 90% more efficient than an open fire and in London 70% of wood burning still occurs on open fires. (1) If people were widely encouraged to switch to one of the many modern and efficient wood-burning stoves available, it would massively reduce urban PM 2.5 emissions. In fact, the latest wood-burning figures released by Defra appear to show this taking place across the country as reported by the SIA:  

“What is clear from the latest data is that, despite an increase in stove sales, domestic emissions have come down. This points clearly and conclusively to the improvement in air quality that can be achieved by replacing open fires and older stove models with modern, Ecodesign design compliant stoves such as clearSkies certified appliances.” (4)   

Finally, it must be said that on some fringes of our community, there is also a feeling that we are up against bigger powers (in much the same way that those who don’t like wood burning feel we have large commercial interests). We are in fact quite a small industry made up of a lot of small and medium-sized companies. There is often a feeling that the anti woodburning lobby is being funded by big players (perhaps fossil fuel companies) who have a vested interest in having control over energy. There is also a subset who feels that governments don’t like wood burning because they cannot tax it! 

Believe the best 

So, there is distrust on both sides – and although there may be good reason for some of it, we share the same motivation: we both want to improve air quality and the environment. Of course, we are taking different approaches towards this. Some want to ban burning, while in our company we want to improve it. But we mustn’t forget, during these debates, that our goal is the same – cleaner air!   

Can we work together?  

If we share the same goal can we help each other? Is the pragmatic approach mutually exclusive to the idealistic one? Is the idealistic path really threatened by the pragmatic one? Can we work together? 

Could we think of it as more of a relay race where the goal is clean air? To get there we all need to work together to get the biggest improvements first and then keep improving. For our industry it means using technology to keep improving stoves, it means working constructively with legislators to implement meaningful and challenging standards which are enforceable and actually make a difference. We need to be really honest about where this is not happening and be prepared to take tough decisions. For those whose goal is to see all burning banned it might mean first putting their efforts into stopping the worst kind of burning – unregulated indoor and outdoor burning. Difficult conversations need to be had; goodwill needs to be shown on both sides, we may not agree on everything but we share the same goal and we can support each other in those things we do agree on. The prize is worth it, so let’s choose to believe the best in each other and together make a difference!

______________ 

Further reading that explains in more detail why we strongly feel a collaborative approach is required: 

https://www.charnwood.com/news/wood-burning-stoves-co-heating-future-a-nuanced-look-at-pm-25-emissions/ 

https://www.charnwood.com/news/wellbeing-benefits-log-burners/ 

https://www.charnwood.com/news/harnessing-the-power-of-wood-fuel-a-sustainable-approach-to-home-heating/ 

 

References: 

(1)https://www.clearskiesmark.org/about-us/certification-system-explained/ 

(2)https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1124738/chief-medical-officers-annual-report-air-pollution-dec-2022.pdf 

(3)https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/summary-results-of-the-domestic-wood-use-survey 

(4) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/wood-burning-emissions-decrease-in-record-year-for-stove-sales/ 

charnwoodstoves

At a time of multiple global crises when thousands of people have been thrown into fuel poverty, wood-burning stoves are playing a vital role in helping families survive these troubled times. So, it’s wrong and dangerous for certain newspapers to misrepresent data to blanket criticise a heat source that is helping so many. We agree that updating open fires and old wood-burning stoves will make a massive difference to PM2.5 emissions. However, we ask you to be discerning and take a closer look at the data which reveals that modern ultra-efficient stoves are a big part of that solution.

Our heritage (why we’re passionate about wood-burning stoves)

 

In 1972, Alfred J Wells and his two sons started a small engineering business in Niton on the Isle of Wight specializing in tractor and machinery repairs. A combination of the 70s oil crisis and the spread of Dutch Elm disease in the UK led the trio to produce a small wood-burning stove as an alternative way to help people heat their homes efficiently.

Our founders were the original environmentalists who knew that responsibly sourced wood is a carbon-neutral fuel that is local, sustainable and reduces the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels. Their cutting-edge stoves were a cleaner and more efficient way to burn than open fires, significantly reducing emissions.

Now in its 50th year, A.J Wells has grown from humble beginnings to making Charnwood a leading global stove brand. We are a proudly British business, sourcing raw materials here in the UK and providing significant local employment. We remain motivated to push innovation well beyond Ecodesign standards and lead industry developments towards manufacturing the most efficient wood-burning stoves possible.

 

So, is PM 2.5 from wood-burning stoves damaging our health?

Inside the home

PM 2.5, or fine particulate matter, are microscopic particles or droplets present in the air that can be damaging to health when inhaled in sufficient quantity. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has established that the safe daily average limit for PM 2.5 in the environment should be ≤ 10 µg/m3 (1). As a point of reference, the air in Central London averages between 18-25 µg/m3.

A study conducted in the US in 2019 that featured in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, examined 137 homes and found that the average daily level of PM 2.5 particulates in homes was 6-7 µg/m3 while those with a wood-stove was just a fraction more at 6-8 µg/m (2). A tiny difference that is well within the WHO safe level.

This doesn’t surprise us, as we know that a correctly functioning wood stove draws air, smoke and particulates out of a room and up the chimney. However, best wood-stove practices are vital in achieving these low levels and something that we are passionate about teaching our customers and other wood-stove users alike.

Read more about best-wood stove practices to save you money and reduce emissions!
 

Outside the home (addressing the HGV scare story)

Data is too often twisted and cherry-picked to bolster a blinkered argument. For example, comparing the emission rates between wood stoves and HGVs has caused much unnecessary concern. Claims that a wood-burning stove is worse than 750 HGVs make a good headline but is shockingly misleading.

Closer inspection reveals that their data excludes brake and engine wear and in fact, just one Euro 6 HGV (let alone 750) produces 13 times more PM2.5 emissions than an Ecodesign wood-burning stove over the course of a week’s real-world use. Furthermore, emissions from HGVs are emitted at ground level (nearer head height) while wood smoke is dispersed more safely, higher up via a chimney flue.

The SIA say, “ The claims are based on simplistic calculations using permitted rates of emission and do not consider either real world use or non-exhaust emissions. Furthermore, these permitted emissions rates rely on vastly differing measurement protocols and techniques. It should also be noted that there are several unreferenced assumptions, and the report does not appear to have been independently peer reviewed.”

Read more  about wood burning stoves and HGV emissions.

 

Not all wood-burning is the same

Another common error is to lump in modern efficient stoves with all other forms of domestic wood-burning, including open fires and outdoor bonfires which are far more polluting (3).

However, a high-quality ClearSkies rated stove that is properly installed and serviced and is burning properly seasoned wood fuel, reduces emissions by up to 90% compared with an open fire and by up to 80% compared with older, basic stove models.

Additionally, logs that are sourced from properly managed woodland can be a sustainable practice that works in harmony with our forests. In fact, copsing is key for wildlife proliferation and the future of our woodlands.  

When the UK government released its 2020 figures for PM emissions the data showed that the overall percentage of PM2.5 attributable to domestic indoor burning (including open fires and old stoves) was 17%. More importantly, it showed that modern Ecodesign compliant wood burning stoves were contributing just a tiny 1-2% to emissions. (4)

Trusted Chief Medical Advisor Chris Whitty in his latest report acknowledges this saying, “For air pollution emissions, there is substantial difference between the different open fire and stove designs, the age of the appliance and how well maintained it is, and the moisture content of the wood, for those who want to burn wood.” (5)

Therefore, a far more pragmatic and impactful approach to reducing PM 2.5 levels would be to target the significant percentage from open fires and old stoves by actively encouraging people to switch to the very best modern wood-burning stoves!

Also explore everything you need to know about eucalyptus wood.

 

Not all stoves are equal either (Ecodesign is just a start)

 

It’s also important to note that not all Ecodesign wood-burning stoves are the same. The figures above are based on the most basic Ecodesign models on the market. However, ClearSkies 5 rated Charnwood stoves are up to 30% more efficient than standard Ecodesign.

That’s a super clean burn! Yet we continue to innovate and believe we can increase efficiency and reduce emissions even further in the near future. After all, 10 years ago Ecodesign was considered difficult to achieve and here we are already beating that standard – we are excited about the innovations to come.

Explore our Ecodesign stove FAQs.

 

No pure way to keep warm

The uncomfortable truth is that it’s impossible to remove PM 2.5 completely from our lives and a level of risk must be accepted if we are to function as a society. When you consider that roasting a chicken in the oven or even making toast can produce levels of PM 2.5 in the home far in excess of a wood stove, it helps put things in perspective!

It is also clear that, despite how things may be presented, there is no 100% clean and easy home heating solution. While each option has merits, they also have their limitations and challenges.

Find out more on how wood-burning stoves are the most inclusive home heating solution.

 

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps have been championed by the government as the leading home heating solution, however, they have high start-up costs while full efficiency during the cold seasons cannot universally be reached. Electricity is required to run the heat pumps, which unless 100% renewable means they are not carbon neutral. Even when renewable energy is used, these energy sources also have their limitations and challenges as we detail below. However a great solution can be heat pumps in conjunction with a wood-burning stove – in fact we do this in our offices – as the heat pump provides background heat with the wood-burning stove topping up the heat for the cold days.

 

Solar panels

Solar panels are dependent on the sun which means that they cannot be fully relied on. Batteries used to store solar energy require lithium mining, while the manufacturing, installation, transportation, and maintenance of solar panels produce 0.18 pounds of CO2 for every kW hour. Solar panels also have toxic metal components containing cadmium and lead and are hard to recycle. (6)

 

Wind turbines

Wind turbines can be devastating for birds and other wildlife, while they are also weather dependent meaning a constant supply is impossible. There is also much resistance from individual communities due to how they affect the beauty of the countryside.

 

Nuclear

Modern nuclear plants are a promising option for cleaner electricity; however, they have a difficult past which means there will always be societal resistance and a level of risk will always be there. They also produce highly toxic waste which requires careful management.

 

Natural gas

Natural gas is a non-renewable fossil fuel and as global stocks continue to decrease, fracking is increasingly being relied upon. Fracking can be highly damaging to the environment and can contaminate local groundwater supplies. It has been blamed for leaking millions of tons of methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide and is also associated with releasing airborne hydrocarbons that can cause health and respiratory issues.

Also explore log burners vs gas burners.

 

A hybrid co-heating solution that can help unleash other renewables

 

We are not saying these technologies are all bad, in fact we have made a significant investment in solar panels on our factory roof producing over 1GW of energy to date. We are just pointing out that all energy sources require compromise and tradeoffs. The key is to maximise the benefits while reducing the negatives.

This is what ClearSkies standards achieve. Unlocking all the benefits of wood-burning while keeping emissions to a bare minimum.

 

A reminder why wood-burning stoves are a vital part of the equation:

-They can produce heat for long periods, unaffected by weather variations

-Allowing them to work in conjunction with wind, solar and other energies helps make these renewable technologies more viable

-They provide energy independence and security

-Are an ideal emergency/low-frequency heat source

-Allow single-room heating rather than heating the whole house/empty rooms

-Responsibly sourced wood is a carbon-neutral fuel as it gives off the same amount of carbon whether it is burnt or decays naturally. The carbon released from burning wood is balanced out by the carbon absorbed by the tree during its lifetime

-Ability to source fuel locally and without fracking, deep-sea oil drilling and excessive transportation

-A good quality stove can last many decades and provide an affordable source of heat for low-income households

-The right to repair. Most components used within a Charnwood stove are modular and can be replaced when or if they wear out, further extending the life of your stove

-Significant well-being benefits have been reported from wood-stove users

We believe that the optimum path forward is a co-energy solution that involves combinations of renewable technologies AND modern efficient wood-burning. When insufficient sun or wind prevents solar panels and turbines from working, an ultra-efficient wood-burning stove is there to provide a reliable source of heat. People can more confidently embrace renewables when they have a wood-burning stove to fill in gaps of supply.

 

Let’s pull together and collaborate

We understand the general concern with PM 2.5 emissions and welcome stringent regulations, but it is vital we target the appropriate sources. Wood-burning critics are right to point out the issues with open fires, outdoor bonfires and poor-performing stoves. However, we urge you not to muddy the water by targeting modern ultra-efficient stoves along with them – the differences are vast!

We also fully accept that wood-burning best practices and burning appropriate fuel are vital. That is why, on top of the information we continue to share, we are developing a free training program for all our customers as well as anyone who wishes to inform themselves.

A grown-up debate that is nuanced and considers a wider range of factors is essential. Otherwise, we risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater and finding ourselves in an even more compromised position regarding our energy security.

We can achieve so much more if we come together, and we urge those of you who resonate with this to help spread a positive message.

 

Why Choose Us?

‘At Charnwood Stoves, our team offer wood burning stoves that represent the pinnacle of quality craftsmanship and innovation. Our stoves are designed with a focus on sustainability, ensuring they not only provide warmth but also minimise environmental impact. With meticulous attention to detail, we strive to create products that exceed expectations in performance and efficiency. Trust Charnwood Stoves for reliable heating solutions that prioritise both your comfort and the planet’s well-being.

 

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_quality_guideline

(2) https://www.nature.com/articles/s41370-019-0151-4

(3) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/domestic-indoor-wood-burning-emissions-significantly-lower-than-previously-thought/

https://stoveindustryalliance.com/sia-response-to-mums-for-lungs-comments/

(4) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/domestic-indoor-wood-burning-emissions-significantly-lower-than-previously-thought/

(5) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1124738/chief-medical-officers-annual-report-air-pollution-dec-2022.pdf

(6) https://solarpowerfocus.com/disadvantages-of-solar-energy/

 

Other useful sources of information:

https://stoveindustryalliance.com/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/summary-results-of-the-domestic-wood-use-survey

https://stoveindustryalliance.com/new-research-finds-almost-half-of-pm2-5-emissions-from-domestic-burning-come-from-outdoor-sources/

https://stoveindustryalliance.com/sia-response-to-mums-for-lungs-comments/

charnwoodstoves

The SIA have written a fantastic blog to address the anti-woodburner’s misleading, ambiguous and, in some cases, untrue media campaign. It was released in time for Clean Air Night to give consumers a chance to get both sides of the story. Here we will share the key information as we want to amplify their important voice in this ongoing debate.
 

The claims made here by the London Wood Burning Project (above left) and cleanairhub.org.uk (above right) rely on the grouping of all methods of burning wood (including garden bonfires & firepits) at home. However, the data from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) shows us that burning dry wood on an Ecodesign compliant stove accounted for less than 0.1% of total UK PM2.5 emissions in 2021.

Modern stoves offer a range of benefits and you can get both sides of the story and learn more about that here.

Just like the posts above, the term ‘wood burning’ in this post (below) is deliberately ambiguous and takes no account of the type of appliance or quality of the wood fuel.
 

There is reliable evidence that using dry wood and other sustainable solid fuels can help consumers reduce their home heating bills. A recent study by Gemserve for Homefire found that households with gas central heating that adopt zonal heating using dry wood fuel could save up to 7% on their annual heating bill and up to 11% using smokeless solid fuel in the same way.

The same study also found that using renewable, sustainably sourced wood fuel instead of fossil fuel gas results in typical carbon savings of over half a tonne of CO2e / year.

You can read more about this study here
 

The claim (above) that a wood burning stove is six times more polluting than an HGV is hugely misleading.

The claim is based on a report by the European Environmental Bureau published in 2022 that looks at the amount of emissions given off by generating a GJ of heat in a stove compared to the emissions releases generating a GJ of power in an HGV.

The claims made by the study rely on a simplistic calculation using permitted rates of emission. The study also fails to factor in the non-exhaust emissions of the HGV.

What we end up with is an apples and oranges comparison that fails to consider the impact of real-world use. According to a 2020 Defra report, on average stove users light their stoves for between 3.7 and 4.5 hours a day during the winter months. An HGV can be driven by the same driver for up to 9 hours per day, and the vehicle potentially operates 24/7 up to 365 days a year.

This means that over the course of 1 week’s real-world use a Euro 6 HGV actually produces 13 times more PM2.5 (271g) than an Ecodesign stove (20.16g). You can read more on this comparison here.
 

This claim (above) by campaign group Mums for Lungs is ambiguous and relies on the reader not seeking any further information on the data.

The data from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (NAEI) which breaks down UK PM2.5 emissions by activity and source, shows us that in 2021 cigarette smoking accounted for 12 times more PM2.5 in the UK than burning dry wood on an Ecodesign compliant stove did.

Some of the adverts by the cleanairhub.org.uk, part of Global Action Plan, in support of Clean Air Night even contain false claims (see below).
 

This is one example. Contrary to the information given in this post, wood logs have the lowest carbon emission factor of any domestic heating fuel at 0.01kg CO2e per kWh. That’s 1/20th the carbon emissions of natural gas or electricity, and 1/29th that of oil.

Burning dry wood is a modern, Ecodesign compliant stove is a low carbon way to heat you home and can play a key role in helping the UK to meet its net zero objectives.

You can find out more about the benefits of choosing modern stoves here.
 

This statement (above) is false. Woodland management is needed to ensure healthy forests and the ecosystems they support.

Wood fuel is a key component of the woodland management cycle and the economies attached to it. Using wood as fuel also plays a vital role in maintaining woodland diversity, health, and resilience. Locally sourced wood fuel helps support small businesses and reduces the carbon footprint of fuel transport.

You can learn more about the importance of woodland management here
 

This is another misleading statement (above) and one which is actually disproved by the findings of a recent Imperial College study which found that a “clearSkies Level 5 stove demonstrated some benefits for indoor air quality” and that “the biggest increases in PM2.5 concentrations indoors did not relate to indoor wood or solid-fuel burning but instead were a result of cooking…”.

A literature review by commissioned by the SIA and carried out by the University of Manchester found no scientific evidence for adverse health impacts from exposure to the indoor air typically associated with modern, enclosed wood burning stoves.

You can read more about this here

And lastly for something positive. We could not agree more with this post and there are significant reductions (up to 90%) possible in the emissions created by domestic burning by switching from open fires and older stoves to modern, Ecodesign compliant stoves.
 

The SIA encourages all solid fuel stove users to educate themselves on the importance of:

Using the right appliance – if you use an open fire or an older stove it is time to upgrade. A modern Ecodesign compliant stove releases up to 90% less emissions than an open fire and up to 80% less than many older stoves.

Ensuring your stove is fitted by an appropriately qualified competent person e.g. HETAS or OFTEC registered.

Always use good quality fuel. Look for the Ready to Burn logo and never use chemically treated wood or burn waste on your stove.

Get your stove serviced and your chimney swept at least once a year. We recommend NVQ qualified sweeps for this.

You can download this page as a PDF here.

These blogs by SIA members are also well worth a read:

Charnwood Stoves

Certainly Wood

Charlton & Jenrick