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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. 

 

charnwoodstoves

We’re delighted to share the news of this year’s Charnwood Dealer Day held recently on the beautiful Isle of Wight. Thank you to all who made the trip – it was wonderful to reconnect in person after two years! It was a chance to celebrate everything that makes Charnwood special – that innovative spirit, the commitment to quality, and of course, the wonderful community we’ve built together.

Over three days, we shared a glimpse into the exciting future of Charnwood, with groundbreaking ideas that will keep our wood-burning stoves at the forefront. The real highlight, though? Unveiling brand new Charnwood stoves – packed with cutting-edge technology and, as always, stunning design.
Read on to learn more about the event and our latest stove releases!

The NEW Charnwood Skye E700

The Future of wood-burning! The Skye E700 (above) is a new intelligent micro-processor-controlled stove fitted with our intelligent I-blu technology and is 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! 

The NEW Charnwood Cranmore Insert

 

Our latest addition to the Cranmore range is our new Cranmore Insert. It features our renowned de-ashing grate and is designed to fit easily into a standard British fireplace. It boasts an output of 4.9kW, has built in external air, a convection box and a single air control for a highly efficient and clean burn. Please note: the flue diameter size is 5″ (125mm)

Charnwood Dealer Day 2024 Summary

 

This year our key message was ‘Why Choose Charnwood?’ We wanted to show you our design and manufacturing capabilities backed up by our 52 year heritage and passion for what we do. 

On Thursday we started the day with a welcome and local Hog Roast lunch at Charnwood HQ. After an introduction in the studio and the unveiling of the Skye E700 and the new Cranmore Insert, we split into smaller groups. We then worked our way around AJ Wells HQ to experience our full manufacturing and engineering facilities. Hugh, our Managing Director, gave an insightful talk on the stove industry and some of the challenges we have been facing, while other sessions included a visit to a local Charnwood showroom to demonstrate what we can offer in creating a Charnwood space. We also ran a session to make your very own enamel coaster. The day ended with a well-earned relax at the hotels followed by a dinner hosted at The Royal Hotel in the spa town of Ventnor.
 

On Friday the groups headed towards the beautiful West Wight where we held a number of activities including clay pigeon shooting, axe throwing, sauna & ice baths, a permaculture tour and a chairlift & boat ride to view the Island’s famous ‘Needles’. 

We then all reconvened at The Cow Co restaurant where we shared a delicious lunch of local burgers. Here we held our coveted ‘Black Dog’ award ceremony where we award the Premier Dealers who have shown an exceptional commitment to Charnwood over the last year.

Black Dog Award Winners!

 

 

The Arcade – Golden Dog

Direct Stoves – Top Dealer N England

RW Knight (1) – Top Dealer SW England

Croydon Stoves (5) – Top Dealer SE England

Bonk & Co (2) – Top Dealer Scotland

The Arcade – Top Dealer Wales

The Woodburning Centre (4) – Top Dealer Ireland

Woodstoves Ireland – Top Dealer Northern Ireland

TaviStock Stoves & Fireplaces (3) – Best Newcomer

A.Bell & Co. – Most Improved

Huge congratulations to you all!

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Stay tuned for more exciting news about the new Charnwood product range coming soon!

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The government’s Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 outlines its strategy for the continued improvement of regulations for burning fuel at home. It will tighten limits on new stoves in Smoke Control Areas (not banning), expand solid fuel legislation to fuels burnt outside and implement measures to encourage the replacement of older appliances with modern wood-burning stoves.

These are regulations we support and believe will make a real difference. Despite this balanced government plan, there continues to be a fair bit in the news about wood burning stoves with some sensationalist headlines, untruths and misrepresented information.

Understandably these scare-stories can cause concern, so with this blog we will show you how to heat your home with a wood-burning stove without having to worry about PM 2.5 emissions.

 

Benefits of Using Wood-Burning Stoves

Wood-burning stoves offer a carbon-neutral and cost-effective way to heat your home without relying on electricity or other fuel sources. They provide energy independence and can be used in conjunction with renewables, helping make these technologies more viable.

They are an ideal source of emergency heating and can even be used to cook food – in fact a Charnwood Cooking Plate can transform your stove giving you even more cooking options. Wood-burning stoves also last for decades, providing an affordable source of heat for low-income households as well as significant well-being benefits.

Read everything you need to know about wood burning stove cooking!

 

Understanding PM 2.5 Emissions

PM 2.5 is fine particulate matter with a diameter of just 2.5 microns, which is approximately 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. These microscopic particles or droplets present in the air can be damaging to health when inhaled in sufficient quantity and come from a wide range of natural and human-made sources.

The good news, however, is that PM 2.5 emissions have been steadily decreasing over the years despite record stove sales (please see the short video above). This is data taken directly from DEFRA and is a scientific and unbiased representation of the air quality in the UK. Whilst there is more we can all do, the evidence is clearly positive.

When you consider that a candle, cleaning spray or even making toast can produce levels of PM 2.5 in the home far in excess of a wood stove, it does put things in perspective. However, whilst it’s impossible to remove PM 2.5 completely from our lives, there are ways to minimise your wood-burning stove’s contribution both inside and outside the home.

 

Choosing the right Wood-Burning Stove

The first step to minimising PM 2.5 starts with choosing a wood-burning stove that is the appropriate size for the space and is certified to the highest possible efficiency standards.

Whilst all Ecodesign rated stoves provide improved efficiency, some are undoubtably better than others. In fact, ClearSkies 5 rated Charnwood stoves are up to 48% more efficient than standard Ecodesign. This reduces emissions by up to 90% compared with an open fire and by up to 80% compared with older, basic stove models.

This is an exceptionally clean burn which unlocks all the benefits of wood-burning while keeping emissions to a bare minimum!

Explore our broad range of wood-burning stoves available.

 

Minimizing PM 2.5 Emissions from Wood-Burning Stoves

Once you have the right wood-stove installed, the next part of the equation is using the best wood burning practices – we all have our part to play. 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.”

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

 

Using the right wood

Achieving the perfect cosy fire requires choosing the right wood. Charnwood stoves are designed to run on seasoned or kiln-dried wood with a moisture content of less than 20%, which results in a cleaner and more efficient burn. This keeps harmful emissions to a minimum and significantly improves efficiency while protecting your stove and chimney – saving you money!

Seasoned wood is wood that has been cut and usually allowed to dry for at least 6-12 months. You can roughly estimate if wood is seasoned by its lighter weight when compared to wet wood and telltale cracks in the end grain. However, to be sure, we strongly recommend using a moisture meter to accurately check the moisture content.

Alternatively, you can purchase kiln-dried wood from an approved firewood seller. Click here to search in your area.

Also explore our best firewood to burn chart in the UK.

 

Maintenance Tips for Wood-Burning Stoves

To ensure optimal performance and efficiency, regular inspection and maintenance of wood-burning stoves is essential. This includes cleaning the stove and its components, inspecting for signs of wear and tear, and examining the flue and chimney for any blockages or other issues. Here are some of the key proactive steps to take, so you can enjoy the warmth and ambiance of your wood-burning stove for years to come while keeping PM 2.5 emissions to a bare minimum.

 

Use a stove pipe thermometer

A Stove or Flue pipe thermometer is an essential piece of equipment that allows you to accurately monitor your stove’s temperature. This helps burn wood efficiently, protecting your stove and chimney, while reducing emissions and maximising heat output.

As one Charnwood customer from the 2022 stove accessory survey said, “It makes it so much easier to see if my fire is working at optimum temperature and if I need to adjust the amount of wood/air flow.”

Additionally, we recommend keeping your stove glass clean so you can monitor your fire and gauge its intensity. As you become more experienced, you’ll be able to anticipate the necessary interventions for maximum efficiency.

 

Check the seals on your stove

Ensuring the seals of your stove are secure is essential to maintaining its efficiency and keeping any smoke out of your home. Visually inspect the gasket (rope seal) around the stove door; if it is not snug against the door, replace it. Additionally, check the seal around the chimney to prevent any leakage. Taking a few minutes to check your wood-burning stove seals will help you stay safe and warm all winter long.

If you’re unsure how to check the seals, refer to your stove owner’s manual or contact a qualified technician.

 

Don’t overfill the stove – allow for air circulation

When using a wood-burning stove, it is important not to overfill the firebox. Filling the firebox no more than halfway ensures that the fire has enough oxygen to burn evenly and efficiently. A tightly packed firebox can cause the wood to smoulder instead of burning, which can lead to creosote buildup. Creosote is a highly flammable substance and can be the cause of dangerous chimney fires. For a safer and more efficient burn, make sure to leave enough space in the firebox for air to circulate.

 

Clean out ash and soot from inside the stove regularly

Regularly cleaning out the ash and soot that builds up in your wood-burning stove is key to its performance and appearance. Clogged airflow caused by a buildup of ash and soot can cause the fire to struggle and reduces efficiency.

How often you clean will depend on how often the stove is used, but generally, it is best to do a thorough cleaning once every couple of weeks during the colder months.

We highly recommend using an ash carrier to make the process much easier and mess-free!

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It is important to remember that all energy sources, including renewables, require compromise and tradeoffs to receive the benefits they provide. The key is to maximise the benefits while reducing the negatives. Wood-burning stoves are playing a pivotal role in helping families get through the energy and cost of living crises. However, we agree it is important to understand PM 2.5 emissions and to take steps to minimize them. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can heat your home with wood-burning stoves without excessive worry about PM 2.5 emissions.

 

Why Choose Us?

At Charnwood Stoves, we pride ourselves on delivering top-quality, environmentally friendly heating solutions. With over 50 years of experience, our wood-burning stoves combine exceptional craftsmanship with innovative technology to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal emissions. Our team are committed to sustainability, offering products that are both beautiful and responsible. Our dedicated customer service team is always ready to assist, ensuring you find the perfect stove to fit your needs. Choose Charnwood for reliable, stylish, and eco-conscious heating solutions that stand the test of time.

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We are delighted and honoured to have received a King’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category. The King’s Award is the UK’s most prestigious business award given to only a select number of businesses each year. The award is a recognition of the amazing efforts of everyone here at AJ Wells and Sons and also our wider Charnwood family which includes you, our customers. Thank you for all the support you have given us over the years!

Read on to learn more about why we were chosen to receive The King’s Award for Enterprise 2024

A journey of innovation and adaptation

Our story is one of constant evolution. Founded in 1972, Alfred J Wells and his 3 sons started by making metal fire escapes and railings. With the 1970s oil crisis and a shift in customer needs, AJ Wells & Sons pivoted to design and craft their first wood-burning stove and Charnwood was born. That same adaptability led them to explore vitreous enamel signage when the King’s Cross fire disaster highlighted its importance for safety and durability. These experiences instilled the importance of staying agile and embracing new opportunities, such as our stunning Vlaze super vitrified outdoor kitchens, released in 2020.

One constant over time and across our businesses, however, has been a drive to make a positive difference. We create products that are built to last, designed to be easily repaired, and that are kind to the environment – a reflection of our core values and commitment to sustainability.

The AJ Way: Our guiding principles

 

Our faith and our family values are at the heart of everything we do. The AJ Way, our company philosophy, embodies this spirit. Our company objectives are to Transform Lives and Delight Customers, and the prestigious recognition of the Kings Award hopefully demonstrates our progress towards these aims. We strive to improve the quality of life for everyone we touch, by creating high-quality products and nurturing a positive work environment. We care sincerely about the environment and are working diligently towards our Net Zero 2050 commitment.

Our international success is a testament to teamwork

We understand the importance of striking a balance between our domestic market and our export endeavours. The UK remains incredibly important to us, offering stability and a familiar landscape. However, exporting has been key to our growth and provided valuable diversification and growth opportunities.

We now operate extensively throughout Europe and trade with South Africa, North America, Japan, and Australia. Our success abroad wouldn’t have been possible without our fantastic team and dedicated partners. Building trust and strong relationships is paramount to our success in each location and in each market, we’ve been blessed to find partners who share our values and vision.

We have also gained valuable insights and knowledge from operating internationally. For example, the demand for external air features in Japanese stoves led to an innovation that benefited customers worldwide. In Australia, an increased focus on efficiency, understanding design preferences and meeting logistical challenges, has fueled rapid growth while providing ideas and knowledge that translate well to other markets.

Investing in the future and striving for excellence

 

At AJ Wells & Sons, we’re committed to continuous improvement to ensure our products stand out in a crowded marketplace. While market share figures can be interesting, our true focus is on exceeding our own targets and achieving dominance in specific markets. 

Our recent investments in advanced laser profiling and robotic welding equipment, ensure we remain at the forefront of British manufacturing. We’re also investing heavily in our people by fostering a culture of innovation and development. Looking to the future, we’re exploring other markets, seeking ways to expand our reach and positive impact. 

Some of our other highlights of 2023/24 

Here are some of the other highlights, news and outstanding projects our businesses have been involved with in 2023/24.  

AJ Wells 

The Surface Design Awards 

 

We were delighted to win top spot in the Commercial Building Exterior category at the Surface Design Awards 2024! A.J Wells and Sons designed, developed, manufactured and installed the beautiful vitreous enamel external soffit on the sixth floor of the award-winning project, at The Rowe, Whitechapel, London.

Brent Cross West Station

 

A.J Wells and Sons are proud to have manufactured and installed the stunning vitreous enamel paneling of Giles Round’s artwork at Brent Cross West mainline train station. Renowned British artist Giles Round was commissioned to create a captivating artwork to adorn the station’s interior. Titled “Time passes & still I think of you,” this expansive architectural frieze graces The Arbour, the station’s eastern entrance, marking the fifth public artwork commissioned for Brent Cross Town.

Read more here 

Charnwood

 

At Progetto Fueco 2024, 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 microprocessor-controlled stove set to revolutionize the way we burn wood. The E700 uses electronic control to constantly monitor the fire and make automatic adjustments to ensure wood is always burnt cleanly and efficiently. It offers users the convenience of just loading the fire, setting the room temperature using the Charnwood app and letting 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!

Read more about the many benefits of owning a wood-burning stove

Vlaze

 

This year we introduced our upgraded Vlaze Adapt outdoor kitchen cabinetry. Innovative 60 and 120-module units offer endless configurations making it easier than ever to design and install your perfect outdoor kitchen diner. New internal features like pull-out bins and smooth-gliding drawers, maximise convenience. Plus, our grill cabinets seamlessly fit slide-in gas grills, expanding your cooking horizons. With the summer not far away it’s time to let the fresh air, sunshine, and the aroma of delicious food create unforgettable moments with family & friends.

Read more here

We also revealed our new Nature Collection organic colour range which is perfect for those who want to add colour, but seek a more subtle approach. Soft, stylish, natural shades blend seamlessly with your garden environment and help create a truly unique and tranquil space.
 

Here are some detail shots of Sage, Clay and Chalk – subtle shades in glorious vitreous enamel!  

A message of gratitude  

Like most businesses, we have faced many challenges and uncertainties over the last few years and as we highlighted in our application it has been our faith in Jesus which has proved to be our rock. This King’s Award for Enterprise is a tremendous honour and a humbling recognition of the incredible dedication and hard work put in by our entire AJ Wells & Sons family. We’re incredibly grateful to our team, our partners, and our loyal customers around the world. Here’s to many more years of crafting exceptional products, building strong and meaningful relationships, and making a positive difference! 

You can get in touch here to discuss your project. 

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I spent the weekend clearing and chopping a large Eucalyptus which had blown down in storms a few weeks ago. It was a magnificent tree and one which we were sad to see come down. Its beauty, however, went beyond its imposing stature. As logs were cut and split ready for stacking and seasoning to provide heat at a much later date, the beauty of creation’s ability to store energy was demonstrated in its fullness. Energy storage has always been a human challenge, but this tree had done it perfectly. Earlier that day I had been at Parkrun and the subject of wood burning had been raised in light of the Scottish government’s reported ‘ban’ on installing wood burners in new builds (which has caused problems for the Scottish Government): “It is just crazy, where is the common sense in that” a local businessman said to me. Indeed, as I looked at the logs I had just cut, I agreed – where is the common sense of not using this stored energy for heat? It is local, widely available, and it is nature’s gift. When we look out of our window we may see a number of energy sources – maybe some sun, sometimes the effects of wind, but almost always trees.  

Despite the clear benefits of using wood as a fuel source, there has been much anti-wood-burning talk recently, not least in Scotland. So, are we losing our common sense? Are we disregarding nature? At Charnwood, environmental responsibility has always been a core value and driver of our business as we try and make a difference in what we do. We want to listen, we want to engage with the voices that are contrary to our views, indeed that is the way we learn. There is a proverb from the bible which says:  

“Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.” (Proverbs 9) 

We initially held back from engaging with the anti-wood burning lobby on social media. However, we eventually felt compelled to start pushing back on some of the misleading and untrue claims made by the Wood Burning London and Global Action Plan campaigns. As we started to engage more, we realised that there were a lot of different viewpoints, some of which we hadn’t considered fully before. In light of this, we wrote:  

‘Shared Goals, Cleaner Air: Reimagining the Wood Burning Debate with Healthy Dialogue & Believing the Best in Each Other’ 

In this, we argued we needed to start believing the best in each other in order that we work together for positive solutions. In truth, this has been really hard. We have always sought to be polite – to engage well and be constructive. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, this is rarely reciprocated. In hindsight, maybe we should have paid more attention to the first part of the proverb: 

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you” 

We were certainly mocked, insulted, abused and hated! We are apparently representatives of the ‘Stink Industry’, our customers are ‘stokers’ and we have been given a new brand name ‘CharrredWood’. We were called liars, condescending and not genuine…. The claims went on, abuse was thrown our way and when we did invite more meaningful debate away from X we were accused of having bad motives and wanting to discredit people. When there seemed to be genuine concerns and we offered to engage in detail away from social media to find solutions, in most cases, those with the issues refused the offer of help and even called us creepy for offering! Our motives and funding were questioned, and we were accused of acting in bad faith. Some users have even learnt how to use AI images to produce grotesque anti-wood-burning memes. It was tempting to want to reply aggressively, but we tried to resist.  

We know there are strong voices on both sides, and social media can breed one-sided arguments while amplifying negativity. But the intensity of the anti-wood burning sentiment online from certain groups was still a little unexpected. Engaging felt a bit like venturing into a lion’s den – or maybe a nest of angry wasps – we got our fair share of stings! Our words were sometimes twisted, and our motives misconstrued. 

Here is one example of a social media post that highlights some of the challenges to the debate. An unwillingness to recognise the very real differences between different stoves and other forms of woodburning is not constructive. Obviously ‘good’ is subjective, but we think it is a justified adjective when you consider a modern stove, burned correctly, is up to 80% more efficient than an old stove and 90% more than an open fire. Additionally, emissions from modern wood stoves, when used correctly, are negligible. Burning dry wood (e.g. Ready to Burn certified) in an Ecodesign-compliant stove (e.g. clearSkies certified) makes up just 0.09% of total UK PM2.5 emissions. Source: NAEI (1). 

Also, scaremongering tactics regarding an increased cancer risk to stove owners misrepresent the facts and is very unhelpful to all. This report undertaken by Dr Amanda Lea-Langton, (2) senior lecturer in Bioenergy Engineering at 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 

-Use of modern wood-burning stoves may help to improve air quality inside the home due to the natural draught created during wood stove operation that pulls air from the room into the appliance and from outside. (Even the findings from the London Wood-Burning Project (3), who are anti-woodburning, back this up: “Use of the clearSkies Level 5 stove demonstrated some benefits for indoor air quality. Indoor PM2.5 did not increase when adding fuel to the stove once lit… At times there was actually a decrease in indoor concentrations of PM2.5 when adding fuel.”) 

-Other sources of particulate matter in the home, such as cooking, can release much higher levels of PM compared to modern, enclosed wood-burning stoves, and could therefore have greater health risk potential 

Despite the hostility online, the experience did provide some value. We do recognise people’s concerns and understand some of the frustration. What was very apparent is that many of the most vehement anti-wood-burners have had very bad neighbourhood experiences of wood-burning. Pictures of smoky chimneys are too frequent, and, in all honesty, we would be complaining just as much if we had to live next to some of the chimneys in question. Undoubtably, there is a very real and present problem with the way that some people are burning their wood fuel which is something we rarely hear as most of the people we interact with at Charnwood HQ love their stoves. They find it has improved their health and well-being, keeps them warm and provides energy security – but we acknowledge that our experience on X has revealed there are others who have been very negatively affected by bad burning. 

So where does this leave us – what do we do? We are passionate about wood-burning heating, to us and to many it seems like common sense. It makes use of a local, natural and renewable fuel source that encourages the planting and managing of forests and woodland which is important for improving biodiversity (4). We make Charnwood stoves here on the Isle of Wight, we employ local people and one of our company objectives is to make a positive difference to the local community. Sustainability is a core driver in our business, and we continue to seek ways to minimise our environmental impact. We are confident of the many benefits of wood-burning, however, we are not oblivious to the downsides and burning anything can produce bad particles.  Although the improvements in burning technology have overall reduced wood smoke emissions significantly (1), if you have a neighbour who is burning badly, this is of little comfort.   

However, we do need to be realistic about energy solutions and apply common sense to each situation. There will not be a one-size-fits-all solution. Heat pumps are the solution being pushed by governments at the moment, but the uptake has been really poor. Where around one million gas boilers are fitted every year there were only around 60000 heat pumps sold last year (5). Despite the best efforts of governments, consumers have been reluctant to install them and many who have, are left disappointed. I was talking to a local heating engineer a couple of weeks ago and he was telling me how he now has customers asking him to remove their heat pumps and instead install a gas solution. In Germany, part of the success of the AFD has been its opposition to heat pumps (6). Although heat pumps can work very well, they have limitations and when policymakers ignore these genuine concerns and try to push a one-size-fits-all solution, we can see it backfire. But in the same way that we need to be careful about over-pushing one solution, we also need to be careful about restricting other solutions because of their perceived negatives. Should we ban electric cars and battery storage because the metals used often come from mines using child labour? (7). Should we ban solar panels because most are produced in China using Uygur forced labour and some of the chemicals used are toxic (8)? And should we ban all solid fuel burning because of the problems of emissions in some cases? All of these are valid questions which are likely to make us feel uncomfortable, and our lived experiences will determine our responses. But instead of banning things and reducing our energy security and flexibility, should we not mitigate the negatives so we can take advantage of the positives? 

All energy sources have upsides and downsides – are they low carbon? Are they emission-free at the point of generation? Are they emission-free at the point of use? Is the energy source sustainable? What about the manufacturing impact of the equipment? What about the recyclability of the equipment? In the UK we often congratulate ourselves on being well on our way to having sustainable energy, however as Sir Dieter Helm, Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Oxford points out much of this has been because we have deindustrialised (9). For example, closing the steelworks at Port Talbot won’t mean that we consume less steel. It will just mean that the environmental and carbon impact of the steel we use gets moved to another country often with less human and environmental protections than our own. The same could be said for importing wood pellets from North America to power the Drax power stations – we still use and generate the carbon here, even if it is offset where the trees are grown. We need to use the ‘common sense’ test, and both of these examples fail miserably. 

Now more than ever, with so much instability in the world, we need a pragmatic and diverse energy mix that is resilient to future demands. We believe burning wood on modern wood-burning stoves is an overall small, but important part of this. By using logs from locally managed forests, and burning properly with locally made, long-lasting equipment which can be easily recycled at the end of its life, wood-burning stoves are one common sense solution for many situations. At Charnwood, we are investing in new technology which mitigates the negatives of wood-burning emissions. We have just launched the Skye E700 which uses electronic control to constantly monitor the fire and make automatic adjustments to ensure wood is always burnt cleanly and efficiently. The results are remarkable and build on the already large steps forward we have made in clean burning technology. What is more, wood burning compliments heat pumps very well. Whereas heat pumps struggle in cold weather, combining a heat pump with a stove works well and could increase heat pump uptake if encouraged. Indeed, in Norway, if a heat pump is installed a provision must be made for a flue to take a stove. 

So, let’s use our common sense as we think about heating. We are continuing to invest in new technology which will allow us to burn wood more cleanly and efficiently. We know it is sustainable and a brilliant solution for many situations that have suitable wood fuel available. As an industry, we need to continue making improvements in our appliances to ensure overall air quality improves, but we also need to work together with other stakeholders to ensure that local instances of bad burning are eradicated. This might mean tougher penalties, improved education and it may include a stove swap-out programme to replace old appliances with cleaner ones. It may also mean other things, but to do this we need positive and constructive engagement. Will we get criticism? Of course, we will, and we will expect it – just take a look at the comments below when we post this article on social media! Sustainability, the environment and air quality are important issues, so we welcome constructive debate and criticism, we want to see real improvements so this time we just might not respond to the mockers. Instead, our efforts will focus on innovation and development to overcome the challenges of wood-burning while further amplifying its many benefits. 

 

References: 

(1) https://naei.beis.gov.uk/data/data-selector-results?q=189517 

(2) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/22-04-11-Indoor-air-final-V5-AL.pdf 

(3) https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/environmental-research-group/London-Wood-Burning-Project-Report_final.pdf 

(4) https://www.smallwoods.org.uk/en/advice-and-information/the-economics-of/ 

(5) https://www.heatpumps.org.uk/statistics/ 

(6) https://www.politico.eu/article/robert-lambrou-alternative-for-germany-heat-pump-election-climate-change 

(7) https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/phone-electric-vehicle-congo-cobalt-mine-b2277665.html? 

(8) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-57124636 

(9) https://alastaircampbell.org/2024/04/69-the-brutal-truth-about-net-zero-and-how-to-vanquish-climate-populists-with-dieter-helm/ 

charnwoodstoves

Charmain Ponnuthurai’s next essay in their series explores Imagination, Play and Materiality.

“And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose to play” Exodus 32:6

What if, contrary to Charles Bradley’s song, ‘No Time for Dreaming,’ we do need to spend more time dreaming? Author Rob Hopkins of ‘From What is to What If’: Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want’ and founder of Transition Towns, says that the decreasing trend in the use of our imagination is having a detrimental effect on our lives. It prevents, for instance, the ability to solve social inequality and address issues such as the climate crisis in any meaningful way. We have replaced idle time, a visit to the library, lighting a campfire, talking to a stranger, spending creative time in the kitchen or going for a walk with a constant plug to the device in our hands. The time lost in connecting to our imagination and ‘playing’ not only affects the future ahead of us, but is also contributing to the pandemic of loneliness and a feeling of disconnection between each other. Our access to finding an answer online, seems to be perpetuating a potential pandemic of ‘What is the meaning?’

So what can we do to reignite our imagination deficit? One possibility is through unstructured play. We all have memories of childhood games, but new research by The School of Life shows that they are an indication of what intrinsically holds interest for us as we grow into adulthood. We maintain that sense of play as we become adults, and researchers argue that it is this that makes us individual as a species. Our ability to be creative and come up with new innovations is what sets us apart from the animal world.

Is it just in the Western world that we have lost our sense of playfulness? Within the Thai language, a happy heart is described with an innate connection to playfulness. Translations include, literally, to be of a, ‘ blooming heart’, ‘being full in the food sense – in the heart’, ‘and invoke a sense of delight, joy and being lighthearted. How can we too reintroduce play into our otherwise so uncertain and responsibility laden adult lives?

One of the simplest ways is by looking around us at nature. There is, of course, an innate playfulness throughout the animal kingdom, you just have to throw a ball to a dog, to see the eager anticipation and the endless joy of the ball going back and forth. There is a playfulness to the way a squirrel stops in its tracks, looking around furtively as if we might think it invisible before darting off. On a brief lunchtime walk, I was pulled out of my thoughts by a child in a primary school, leaning through the gate and asking me my preferred footballer from a choice he gave me. This playful exchange conjured my imagination, and pulled my mind away from the thoughts and concerns of that day. This is an everyday occurrence for animals and children, who are so ready to play, not constricted by time or place. There is a kind of openness against the burden of efficiency to creating new pathways to think about something and maybe just smile!

Of course, as adults, we may receive some strange looks, if we engage in such acts as dancing down the street, or playing catch with dogs! But there are many other ways we can engage with our playfulness. One simple way is through food and cooking for others. If we aren’t regular cooks, this can seem like a task that we have to gear ourselves towards, but we can take some inspiration from Mary McCartney’s book ‘Feeding Creativity.’ In this book, she cooks with her interviewees and recounts playful, rather than perfectly choreographed, food scenes. In one particular example, with David and Catherine Bailey, she says “using Catherine’s electric hand whisk to whip the cream, it soon became a chaotic scene, I managed to flick cream all over myself and kitchen. So instead I resorted to my backup squirt can of whipped cream. The trifle looked perfect. We sat together, spoons in hand, and tucked in. It had been a while since we had spent time together, and it was a reminder of how much I enjoyed making this book. It’s been an opportunity to catch up with loved ones, even the grumpy ones I adore!”

Part of our ability to be playful is stored within objects that we might normally view as inanimate. Studies by psychologists say that, whilst objects are not human, they are part of a representation of the dialogue within the environments we inhabit. They contribute to our cognitive function. We might be able to consider this idea on a simpler level with the Thomas Heatherwick campaign on observing ‘How buildings make us feel’. Taking this to our interior environments, we can gauge a change in mood from the way a room is lit, or the glowing warmth of a fire after a long day, giving us, through the dancing flames, an opportunity to reflect, pause and simply be in the moment. In that moment, we are allowed to engage with our imagination and feel the playful joy of what surrounds us.

Another way of finding our imagination is through colour. Design Studio Raw Netherlands hosts the podcast ‘Conversations in Colour’, which always begins with the question, “If you were a colour, what colour would you be?’ Most answers relate to emotion, season, lighting, personal energy and geography. Undeniably the common thread is that colour brings you into a focussed moment, where the mind can be quieted for a moment. Through our Vlaze worktops and kitchen surfaces, we offer both a textural and colour palette that invites you to use the surfaces for simple acts such as kneading dough or chopping vegetables. We hope to bring a warmth of joy to your culinary adventures and inspire some time for everyday dreaming.

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1) Treehouses have such an interesting history as safe dwellings for tribes such as the Korwoaj in Papua New Guinea and as representations of freedom and beauty in the Renaissance gardens of the 16th Century. What do treehouses mean to you?

We see Treehouses as a magical escape from everyday life and a chance to tap into the inner child’s sense of adventure. Our Treehouses are in a beautiful and private location, surrounded by trees and nature and with no WIFI our guests can really switch off from the hustle and bustle; a real treat in this day and age.

2) Can you tell me a little about what inspires the interiors of your treehouses?

We wanted to give each Treehouse a unique character and feel. Integrating the landscape and views into this was paramount to the design; the huge windows and sympathetic timber cladding draw the landscape into the interior. Goldfinch with its botanical wallpapers and muted greens has a wonderful woodland feel. Chiffchaff has a more rustic bothy vibe and the Scandi chic, Wren, uses natural materials and textures throughout.

3) What inspired the names of your tree houses?

The birdlife around The Treehouses at both Leckie and Lanrick is spectacular so we took inspiration from some of the species that can be seen here. Our guests loving making use of the bird books to identify all the different birds.

4) The landscape of Perthshire is inescapably beautiful. How would you describe to to someone that has not visited what they may expect?

Despite being within an hour of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Stirlingshire and Perthshire feel incredible remote and wild with rolling hills and beautiful lochs and woodlands. The Trossachs National Park is stunning and right on our doorstep giving our guests the chance to explore the hills and lochs they are home to.

5) How important are the wood-burning stoves to the treehouse experience?

The wood burning stoves are an integral part of the treehouse experience. Being in Scotland, the weather can be less than desirable but having the wood burning stoves makes the treehouses not only incredibly cosy but also adds atmosphere.

In the winter months we always try and light the stoves before our guests arrive, it creates a beautifully warm and welcoming environment which instantly makes our guests feel at home.

 

You can find out more about these stunning Treehouses here.

charnwoodstoves

We at Charnwood appreciate the work Mums for Lungs does in advocating for clean air. We share their concern for healthy homes and the environment. However, some recent information they released on wood burning does not reflect the latest available data which shows significantly reduced emissions from advancements in wood-stove technology and responsible fuel practices. Let’s explore some key points raised in their leaflet: 

Air Quality Concerns: 

MfL Wood burning is a leading cause of PM2.5. Emissions of PM2.5 from domestic wood burning increased by 56% between 2012 and 2022, to represent 22% of overall PM2.5 emissions in 2022. This is more than all UK road transport exhausts (18%).” 

The term ‘domestic wood-burning’ continues to mislead.  The public understandably associates this catch all term most readily with wood-burning stoves – despite it being a combination of emissions including open fires, outdoor bonfires and old stoves. The actual contribution of modern wood-burning stoves is estimated by the UK government’s official figures at just 1-2%! (1)   

And when good fuel practices are undertaken this reduces even further. (2) 

As reported by the SIA “Last year…PM2.5 emissions from Ecodesign stoves burning dry wood fuel accounted for less than 0.1% of the UK total.” 

 MfL “There is no such thing as clean burning. The newest Ecodesign, Defra compliant stove emits six times more PM2.5 per hour than a Euro VI heavy goods vehicle.” 

This stat has repeatedly been shown to be flawed and has caused much unnecessary concern.   

Closer inspection reveals the data used to create this stat excludes brake and engine wear and in fact, just one Euro 6 HGV produces 13 times more PM2.5 emissions than an Ecodesign wood-burning stove over 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.” (3) 

It is fair to say that a 90% reduction in emissions, which is what modern wood-burning stoves offer, is clean burning. With 70% of wood burning in London taking place on open fires, modern stoves could reduce those emissions by 90% and that would certainly clean up the air dramatically! 

Furthermore, it is important and pragmatic to say that the reality is there is no pure way to keep warm. Every heating solution, from gas and electric to wind, solar, heat pumps and nuclear involves tradeoffs and compromises. The key is to optomise these solutions and use them intelligently together to provide us with greater energy security and wellbeing. Read about wood-burning stoves co-heating future here. 

Costs: 

MfL “Wood burning is costly…” 

Prices of all types of fuel constantly fluctuate and are dependant on many factors including availability and how much you buy. Wood is consistently one of the cheapest fuel sources available and as recently as 18 months ago was widely considered the cheapest fuel source! (4) What is constant is that wood is the only fuel source that you can collect yourself for FREE and is not subject to spiking due to global crises in the way that gas and electricity is. It also provides energy independence and security from outages caused by various factors from storms to supply issues.  

Environmental Impact: 

MfL  “Wood burning is not a climate friendly way of heating a home. Burning wood releases more greenhouse gases than gas, oil or coal for the same amount of heat.” 

Wood is a renewable fuel source compared with fossil fuels that take millions of years to produce. Additionally, acquiring the remaining fossil fuel supply requires increasingly destructive methods such as fracking and deep-sea oil drilling. Wood fuel, on the other hand, can be sourced locally and in harmony with the environment.   

Sustainably harvested wood fuel can absolutely be considered climate-friendly because trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, offsetting the emissions released when burned. However, we acknowledge that responsible forest management and efficient burning practices are crucial to ensure true sustainability.  

MfL  “Leaving trees to grow and mature creates forests which capture more carbon and sustain a richer variety of species” 

Managing woodland is vital for healthy forests and increasing biodiversity. Coppicing is an ancient woodland management technique dating back to the stone age used to ensure regular supply of timber and firewood and improve forest health. It involves felling trees at their base to create a ‘stool’ where new shoots will grow. Coppicing today is often used as a way of improving the health and biodiversity of a woodland area by opening it up to the sunlight and allowing a wider range of plants to flourish. 

The National Trust say “Today, we use it at many of the places we care for to create a range of habitats for plants and wildlife – dramatically increasing the diversity of species that thrive in these areas.” (5) 

According to the Woodland Trust’s 2021 report (6), the UK’s woodland cover has more than doubled in the last 100 years, reaching 13.1% of the total land area and forest coverage is set to continue increasing which provides a host of benefits, including:  

Carbon Sequestration: Wood absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows. When wood is burned responsibly, a closed-loop carbon cycle can be created with the carbon dioxide released being reabsorbed by new trees.  

Biodiversity Enhancement: Woodlands are the habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, including many insects and birds. When done sustainably, harvesting wood encourages new growth and benefits biodiversity.  

Local Jobs: Wood fuel production and distribution creates jobs and supports economies in rural areas. This is crucial for maintaining the vibrancy of local communities who in turn invest in looking after their woodland areas. 

____________ 

We understand concerns about PM2.5 and we want to continue playing a key role in improving air quality. Modern wood-burning stoves are NOT the problem and the latest data shows that they can in fact massively improve air quality. 

We would encourage everyone to come together to focus on the real issues that can make a genuine difference. Let’s encourage people to reduce bonfires, switch from open fires to modern wood-burning stoves, and burn wood responsibly and efficiently. This would make a huge difference while protecting our energy security.  

Remember there is no 100% clean technology. Every heating source has its positives and negatives. Modern wood-burning maximises the many positives while drastically reducing the negatives. 

For those open to working together to ensure the cleanest possible air for everyone, please read our blog: Shared Goals, Cleaner Air: Reimagining The Wood Burning Debate With Healthy Dialogue & Believing The Best In Each Other 

 

References: 

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

(2) https://www.charnwood.com/news/sia-report-wood-burning-emissions-decrease-despite-record-year-for-stove-sales/ 

(3) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/sia-responds-to-wood-burning-stove-and-hgv-emission-comparison/ 

(4) https://stoveindustryalliance.com/wood-fuel-now-the-cheapest-domestic-heating-fuel/ 

(5) https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/discover/nature/trees-plants/what-is-coppicing 

(6) https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/51705/state-of-the-uks-woods-and-trees-2021-thewoodlandtrust.pdf 

charnwoodstoves

Fire has captivated humans since the dawn of our existence, becoming a cornerstone of human progress, shaping technologies, and our societies. Its warmth is life-preserving and life-affirming, offering not just physical comfort, but also a sense of togetherness and well-being. It’s a symbol of community, a gathering point for storytelling and shared experiences.  

Read on to learn more about the origins of fire and why it continues to captivate us 

Fire’s role in human development 

The earliest evidence of fire use dates back hundreds of thousands of years and was more than just a source of warmth – it was a catalyst for change. Firelight lengthened the usable hours of the day, allowing early humans to venture out of the darkness and push back against nocturnal predators. More importantly, it unlocked a treasure trove of possibilities: 

Cooking 

Raw meat became cooked meat, a transformation that improved digestion and unlocked new nutrient sources. Where as 100% of a cooked meal is metabolised by the body, raw foods yield just 30 or 40 percent of their nutrients. Cooking is believed to have played a crucial role in the development of larger brains, a hallmark of early human evolution. 

Crafting tools 

Fire’s transformative power also extended to shaping our tools. Wood, hardened by fire, became more durable for crafting spears and other hunting implements. Fire also allowed early humans to work with metals, leading to the creation of even stronger tools and weapons, which further advanced their ability to hunt and acquire resources. 

Bricks and pottery 

Fire transformed clay into sturdy bricks and functional pottery revolutionising construction and food storage. These innovations laid the groundwork for permanent settlements and the rise of early civilisations. 

Fire: The heart of the community 

Beyond practical applications, fire has woven itself into the fabric of human culture. The flickering flames became the focal point for gatherings, fostering a sense of community and shared experience. Stories were told, traditions were passed down, and social bonds were strengthened around the warmth of the fire. Studies have shown how hearth and campfires can influence arterial blood pressure and defray the costs of the social brain through fireside relaxation. 

Fire also held a profound symbolic meaning across cultures. For some, it represented purification and transformation while for others, it acted as a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms. It was both an awe-inspiring and comforting force and a constant presence in the lives of our ancestors. 

Balancing fire with progress 

In the modern world, our relationship with fire has become somewhat more complex. Air pollution concerns associated with open fires and older, inefficient wood-burning stoves, have come to the forefront and gained a lot of press.  

While alternative heating methods have emerged, and environmental awareness has rightly grown, the desire for the unique warmth and ambiance of a fire remains deeply ingrained in us. Fortunately, innovation has not abandoned fire. Modern technology offers solutions that allow us to enjoy the benefits of fire while minimising any negative impacts. 

Ecodesign compliant wood burning stoves 

Modern Eco Design wood-burning stoves significantly lower emissions compared to their predecessors – up to 90% compared with an open fire! They optimise efficiency and dramatically reduce smoke and particulate matter released into the atmosphere. 

In fact, it has been found that burning dry wood (e.g. Ready to Burn certified) in a Ecodesign compliant stove (e.g. clearSkies certified) makes up just 0.09% of total UK PM2.5 emissions. Source: NAEI.  

Clearskies 5 stoves 

Even better are ClearSkies 5 Stoves which are 30% more efficient than Ecodesign. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Imperial College London a ClearSkies 5 stove was shown to improve air quality in the home, even when refueling.   

As the UKs leading wood-stove manufacturer we are continuing to develop the technology and know we can improve efficiency even further still! 

Sustainable forestry practices 

Responsible forestry practices ensure that trees harvested for fuel are replaced, maintaining a carbon-neutral cycle. Locally sourced wood fuel helps support small businesses and reduces the carbon footprint of fuel transport. 

Wood fuel is an important component of the woodland management cycle and plays a key role in maintaining woodland diversity, health and resilience. Choosing wood from well-managed woodlands allows you to enjoy the warmth of fire with peace of mind. 

Renewable energy sources 

While fire continues to play a role in our lives, renewable energy alternatives like wind, solar, and geothermal power play an increasingly crucial role in meeting society’s energy demands. However, we strongly believe in wood-burning stoves co-heating future, which involves filling in inevitable gaps in supply, aiding the transition to renewables and providing energy security in an uncertain world. Read more here: 

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

_______________ 

 Fire has been a constant companion throughout our journey as a species. At Charnwood, we believe that fire, when harnessed responsibly, can continue to be a source of comfort and progress. By embracing cleaner burning technologies, burning wood correctly and supporting sustainable forestry practices we can ensure that we continue to benefit from the power and life affirming magic of fire.