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Alternative Logs for Wood Burners

heat logs review

A few months back we took the plunge into finally purchasing a wood burner and since then we've been enjoying many nights snuggled by the fire, enjoying it's glorious heat. And if you didn't already know - this is a pretty huge deal for us, after having spent the last six years (and more to come!) without central heating. We finally have heat and it's bloomin' amazing!!

We've been getting to grips with our log burner; learning which logs burn best for our needs, how to stack a fire and so on and so forth. Something I've read a lot about is heat logs. They're hugely popular throughout Europe and can be a more efficient and cleaner alternative to actual tree logs. They have lots of other benefits too and come in a variety of different forms. So, when Lekto Fuels asked if I wanted to sample some of their heat logs, of course I said yes.

So I was given two different types of logs as well as some natural firelighters, none of which I had ever tried befrore. I've given them a real test over the last few weeks and have compiled a review of each, so if you've been thinking about giving heat logs a try too but aren't sure whether they're right for you, then keep reading....

briquettes review

Sawdust Briquettes

These briquettes are, as the name suggests, made from a Birch Sawdust. They're cylindrical in appearance and are densely packed into around 27cm lengths. They must then be broken down into smaller sections to use, as they do expand (a lot!) during burning. The main attraction to these briquettes is their high heat output - they burn to much higher temperatures than traditional wood logs and they heat up much faster too, which means rooms heat up faster and much hotter. This is a huge advantage for us with our log burner being the only source of heating!

birch sawdust briquettes
how to use sawdust briquettes

So these briquettes can be used as an alternative to traditional logs and they are quite uniquely different. They produce a very similar and pleasant wood burning smell, which I was surprised at, but they expand like crazy whilst burning. You must break them down into smaller sections (which can be a little messy and leaves you needing to get the hoover out), before putting them into the wood stove. Whilst burning they double (and more) in size! You need to be quite careful on your placement of these briquettes as they do have a tendency to expand over the edge of the grate and fall into the glass if badly placed, which can then fall out of the stove altogether when the doors open. So, that's a little learning curve!

But of course, the main attraction of these briquettes are their seriously high temperatures. And believe me, they do not disappoint! It was literally the hottest our stove has ever been (we could barely stand near it!) and the speed to which these briquettes produced that heat was quite shocking. Traditional wood logs heat up over quite a longish time and I'm forever sat watching and waiting for that warmth to arrive, but these briquettes put all that to shame with significant heat within several minutes. They claimed to have a high heat output with fast heat-up times and they really really do! These would be perfect for frosty mornings.

Their cylindrical and slightly unnatural appearance was something I worried would look a little odd inside the burner, but once burning they absolutely do not. In fact, they produce a very steady blue flame whilst alight and are actually quite mesmerising to watch. They almost sparkle in appearance as the sawdust glows and they have their own unique charm which I really liked.

One other thing I really liked about these briquettes was that they also produce very little ash. This means there's far less build-up (nothing like traditional logs!) and the stove needs less emptying and cleaning. They also burn right through leaving nothing un-burnt which makes them very efficient too. Oh, and they're brilliantly clean to burn as well, we had absolutely no build up on the glass whatsoever!

You can see how they look in the photos below and some of the weird shapes they expand into as well (they're actually rather fun to watch)...

burning sawdust briquettes
briquettes in log burner
sawdust heat logs burning
log burner heat logs
alternative logs for wood burners
sawdust logs expanding
what sawdust looks like burning

So if you couldn't already tell, I really did like these briquettes. The difference in heat between these and traditional logs was really quite huge and I don't think you can really appreciate how great these are until you try them! So to summarise these briquettes simply, here's a few bullet points of their advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

  • Burns at a much higher temperature
  • Fast heat up
  • Easier to light than traditional logs (doesn't require lots of kindling)
  • Burns completely through leaving nothing un-burnt
  • Creates a lot less ash means less emptying stove & cleaning
  • Ash can be used as fertilizer in the garden
  • Clean-burning, did not blacken the glass in any way at all!
  • Consistent briquette sizes means you know exactly what you're getting.

Disadvantages:

  • Briquettes expand during burning and can burn over the edge of grate and fall out if not careful.
  • Can't be stored outside as these must stay dry
  • Not as visually charming to store on show

Bark Briquettes

These heat logs, made from bark, boast very long burn times. I'm talking up to 8 hours! Yes, seriously! No traditional wood log can rival that! Unlike the briquettes above, these logs are meant to be used as a supplement to either traditional logs or the sawdust briquettes, and they cannot be used until a fire has well and truly been lit and going for at least an hour or so. They're designed to be placed onto glowing hot red embers and require very little air intake whilst they steadily burn for several hours.

bark briquettes lekto fuels
lekto fuels review
bark heat logs review

So my first impression of these weren't quite as draw dropping as the sawdust briquettes and they did take a little bit of time to get to grips with. My first 'test run' was a bit of a fail after I left it too long to place the briquettes onto the stove and it just wasn't hot enough for them to burn properly. But after a successful second attempt I could really see how these work.

The key to burning bark briquettes is to make sure you place the briquettes onto a very very hot fire, just before any flames go out and whilst the embers are still glowing hot red. You must then leave the air intake open for around half and hour whilst the briquettes gently flame, before closing the air intake down. A low air intake is how these briquettes work best, so it's vital your stove has adjustable controls for burning these. I think it takes a bit of trial and error to know just how much to turn down the air controls by and I'm certainly still learning this part a little. But once you get it right - these are absolutely perfect for an overnight burn.

From my experience of these logs so far, I haven't manage to achieve a full 8 hours, but I have reached the 6 hour mark. They wont necessarily flame for the full 6 hours, but they'll maintain a good heat whilst burning over this time and glow vibrant red. I use the word 'good heat' because whilst it was hot, after a few hours that level of heat definitely drops a bit, so it didn't seem to stay at its hottest for the full 6 hours. But whether this is down to trial and error I don't yet know. I have read some wood burners work better for overnight/long burns than others - and a key part of this is how effective the air intake controls are. I know our burner doesn't boast being great for an overnight burn, so perhaps this is somewhat down to our burner rather than the logs. But they still definitely stayed burning WAY longer than any traditional log we've burnt and actually, it was really quite relieving not having to constantly add fuel to the fire. Ever had to pause a movie to keep up the work of a fire? You wont be having that problem with these! These require such little maintenance, it's brilliant!

Another quirk of these briquettes is their smell! They definitely do not have the traditional wood burning smell you might expect - they smell strangely aromatic instead. I think this might be a love it or hate it kind of thing. I wasn't that keen on it to begin with, but by the end of my test-runs I unexpectedly was really beginning to like it. Their appearance is also quite charming - I think they actually look a little bit more coal-like whilst burning red and as they begin to grey they look very similar to traditional logs.

bark heat logs in wood burner
how to burn bark briquettes
bark heat logs in wood burner
what bark briquettes look like burning
how to burn bark briquettes

If you've been struggling with achieving an overnight burn with traditional logs (I have tried and epicly failed!) then I definitely recommend giving these a go. They most definitely burn at good temperatures for several hours and are uncomparable to any traditional log for that. They do take some trial and error (unless you're already a pro when it comes to fire!), but I think they're definitely worth it. Your pets will certainly be thanking you for some nighttime heat at least! Again, here's some bullet points of the briquettes summed up...

Advantages

  • Burns for up to 8 hours
  • Great for easy overnight burn
  • Burns completely through
  • Ash can be used as fertilizer in garden
  • Less briquettes to store as you will use less as they last longer.
  • Aromatic Smell (Love or hate?)
  • Consistent briquettes sizes means you know exactly what you're getting.
  • Cubed means they're very easy to stack.

Disadvantages

  • Needs to be placed on an already lit fire - can't be used to start a fire, so these are just a supplement.
  • Must be used with a stove with good air intake controls
  • Not as visually charming to store

I really enjoyed using both briquettes - I definitely preferred the sawdust ones for their very high heat output as this was really very beneficial to us! The stove was the hottest I have ever felt it and the fast heated room temperature was really noticeable too. As for the bark briquettes, an overnight burn isn't something I would really use that often, although I did enjoy being able to leave the stove for a couple of hours to do some housework and come back knowing it was still very hot and warming the room. I would definitely use both briquettes again (although probably the sawdust ones more than the bark ones!) but the only small negative for me is that I love the look of traditional stacked logs. Neither the sawdust or bark briquettes I tested are quite as visually pleasing as a visible stack, so perhaps you'd need an enclosed cupboard where they wont be an interior statement to a room?

Natural Fire-Lighters

One last thing I tested out (not a heat log!) was some natural fire-lighters. I've never used any fire lighters before, we've always made our fire from newspaper and kindling, so I was definitely intrigued to see how easy these would be to use. These are essentially made from wood shavings and have a burn time for up to 12 minutes which should be plenty of time to get your fire going!

natural firelighters from lekto fuels

So I tested these in a few ways. I used them as an extra with my usual fire making methods (newspaper and kindling), I also used them alone with kindling and I finally used them with no kindling at all. For each time I started a fire, I used between 2-3 fire-lighters and I have to say they were pretty awesome! They light instantly and stay lit for 10 minutes or so which makes them so easy for starting a fire, even without kindling.

If you pay for newspaper or kindling (we have to buy our newspapers) to use when starting a fire, it really makes no difference to pay for these instead and it makes your life so much easier! There's virtually no possibility of the fire not catching and having to re-attempt, these stay alight long enough to almost guarantee a fire will get going. I have to admit using newspaper and kindling is a bit of a faff and requires a bit of attention and watching the fire for a few minutes, but with these there's absolutely none of that. If you struggle getting a fire going, I definitely recommend giving these a whirl!

how to use natural firelighters
natural firelighters
lighting a fire
lekto wood fuels review

So that's everything I tested out! I definitely wont be ditching the traditional wood logs just yet (after all, they make a fabulous feature stacked floor to ceiling alongside our wood burner) but, I most definitely do intend on using these briquettes again in the future to supplement our logs when needed. The sawdust briquettes were my personal favourite and I can definitely imagine myself using them in real frosty temperatures where you need heat and quickly.

So I hope this helps you if you're looking into alternative heat logs. Let me know if you already use heat logs or if you have any advice on burning heat logs to share!

review of heat logs


*Products were provided by Lekto Fuels for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who support this blog :)

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