Real fire - what do you burn?

Hi all,

Me and OH moved into our new house a few weeks ago and we have a real fire for the first time which we are very excited about.

We've bought a fireguard and had the chimney swept so we are looking at buying something to burn.

So my question is what is best...coal or wood or something else?

We don't live in a smokeless city so that isn't a problem. Also, I know it would be cheaper to buy in bulk but we don't have a lot of space for storage so that probably wouldn't work.

Also, what else do we need...firelighters??

Thanks in advance xx
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  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 47,073 Ambassador
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    We burn wood. We usually buy the wood when we see it on offer in petrol stations or garden centres. Not very money saving as I'm sure you could get it from tree cutters or even your own garden very cheaply. You also need the small stuff to get the fire going (bought from same place) and a box of matches.

    Sometimes we cheat and throw a firelighter in, but I don't really like the smell they leave behind over the next few days.
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  • savemoney
    savemoney Posts: 18,127 Forumite
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    The price of logs has gone up in my area to 22% due to shortage because everyone wants logs now. I havent bought any his year an dont intend to pay 22% they can shove it

    We have a log burner and also a real fire. Little heat comes from a real firs its a modern type fire with a Victorian feel

    Burning logs you should buy seasoned logs not ones that are just cut down as it can be a fire risk due to the sap in the woods also dried wood burns better. It should be cut down and stored for at least a season if not longer so the wood dries out. It can be outside as long as it has cover from the rain

    I hear coal has jumped up in price too
  • 00ec25
    00ec25 Posts: 9,123 Forumite
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    we have had solid fuel for 46 years and probably are responsible for global warming ourselves.

    Coal - burns hottest, burns longest, will radiate heat, expensive to buy - especially if all you get are the silly sized individual bags sold at petrol stations, There is all sorts of coal available, suitable for open or closed fires, talk to your supplier for what you need
    ash is less of a problem than the clinkers, which can be partially reburnt, but ultimately have to be got rid of somewhere. Mind you 1 in an 18" grate fire probably leaves a pile about 2 x 2 x 2 inches so no great issue if not having a fire every day.

    wood - problem is finding a supply. My friends spend significant amonuts of time trawling skips in the village reclaiming wood and always ask if they see anyone cutting down trees etc so actually get all their fuel for free. People even bring it to them now as they are well known in the village for it - does mean they spend time cutting up whatever they get and have axes and chains saws for that purpose.
    Wood obvioulsy burns quicker than coal and will be hot only if you keep feeding the fire, but you do get some great fires going. Lots of ash but keen gardeners may appreciate it, otherwise binning it can be difficult

    firelighters! :wall: Pah! Didn't you learn anything in Scouts/Guides!
    Use a newspaper and some kindling wood, problems are most of the free newspapers are rotten paper than refuses to burn so you need a supply of decent stuff (Times, Guardian, Indi, Torygraph etc - best use for them anyway) as for kindling wood (ie sticks) go for a walk in the park/fields

    storage for you does sound a problem. We have a proper coal bunker and still buy in bulk once per year from the coalman. My friends have a less attractive wood pile which is constantly being restocked so they are often surrounded by wood chips and saw dust as well as all the attendant creatures who just love to live in slowly decaying wood.
  • elfen
    elfen Posts: 10,213 Forumite
    Wood from either the trees in the garden, from OH's uncle who lives in the New Forest, or from Oh's work
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  • savemoney
    savemoney Posts: 18,127 Forumite
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    Coal burns better but its very dirty fuel unlike logs very little ash as long as its seasoned wood

    For kindling you can use sticks or breakup old pallets often you can get them for free a couple of large pallets should last a whole Winter for kindling. I have used them to burn to but they burn to quick.

    Dont burn wood that contains paint/creosote it can cause a chimney fire so can unseasoned wood in some cases due to build up of sap

    Get chimney cleaned also
  • vansboy
    vansboy Posts: 6,483 Forumite
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    Coal is quite often 3 for 2 in Focus.

    You can try house coal as well as smokeless, to see how you get on - house coal will look 'nicer' if you want flames, but smokeless will look good once it's been burning for an hour or so.

    Also wood will let more mess into the room, if the chimney isnt as good at drawing smoke away,

  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,908 Forumite
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    Coal and wood together- coal to chuck out the heat, wood because you get better flames, otherwise the fire doesn't seem as real. So far the wood has come from my dads chopped down trees, left to season, so I haven't had to buy any.
    Too late for this year, but in future stock up on coal in the summer on the summer prices (I think the cut off is about the end of August.)

    I also use newspaper and kindling not firelighters. However the first time I tried my mums trick of putting a sheet of newspaper across the front to help it draw, I let the fire blaze up too much before moving it, the paper caught fire, and I nearly set the sitting room on fire. :o
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  • turk3y
    turk3y Posts: 99 Forumite
    im lazy and having a small fire i find firelighters and some kindling chopped from seasond logs works well,then throw coal over for added heat.

    paper and cardboard is all good for lighting it but even with kindling in my small fire its hard to get from small fire to self sufficient fire, logs from pertrol station need quatering to happily fit :( dam good fun trying tho, usually aim to try to get a whole log going once, looks like the total fire hazzard but is most appealing. Luckily there is a independant garden centre local thats quite good value, never tried the house coal as in a smoke restriction area although so few people round here use coal nobody would know or make a difference from what i can see.
  • never_enough
    never_enough Posts: 1,495 Forumite
    I like a fire & wood mix, but we're trying to burn less coal & more wood now. We'll be replacing the open fire with a wood burning stove in the New Year as it's far more efficient. No need for firelighters, they stink & make you look like a fool! ;) Rolled up newspaper & a few smaller sticks will do the job. I've found that the cardboard sleeve Amazon send a single book in is perfect to hold across the fire to help draw it (obviously any cardboard would do, but we just seem to have a lot of those!)
    Buying from a garage is the most expensive way to buy, but can be handy. I get wood given to me (was burning a friends old fence posts all last winter) or buy from tree feller. Have to season it for a year or two if it's newly cut, but we have the space. Skips as poster above says are great too.

    These guys deliver coal, wood, kindling, coal bunkers, wood stores & even firelighters (if you must!)
  • MrYorke
    MrYorke Posts: 125 Forumite
    head to some local joinery workshops and you may be able to pick up timber for free.

    when i worked at one we always had people coming in....and for shavings.
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