Experience pays off for log burning

Yuletide logs, but they don't all make good burners.
Yuletide logs, but they don't all make good burners.

Burning logs on an open fire is a tradition long associated with Christmas, but this fellow embraces it with an eye to safety – they go in a glass-fronted stove.

Dried wood stored over time is best, but choose logs carefully. Sparks will fly from the majority, especially larch.

Conifers, such as pine, have a resin content that can form a deposit in the chimney, and the aroma or fumes emitted from different log types is worth considering.

Elm, alder and willow are not particularly good burners and according to tradition, “poplar has a bitter smoke, fills your eyes, and makes you choke”.

Getting to know which logs are best comes with experience, trial and error, but there’s often a grain of truth in the old rhymes.

“Birch and fir logs burn too fast, blaze up bright and do not last” is certainly true if they’re very dry after long storage. However, they burn bright and last longer when freshly cut.

Beech and oak make good firewood after long storage, as recognised in, “Beechwood fires are bright and clear, if the logs are kept a year”.

Top log for the yule fire can be found in: “Ash logs, all smooth and grey, burn them green or old. Buy up all that come your way, they’re worth their weight in gold.”

Add fragrance in the form of short, thick, fruit tree branches – “Apple-wood will scent your room, with an incense-like perfume”.

Rather than buy a wreath or garland, why not have a go at making one?

It does not have to be traditional holly. Get the basic materials of base, wire and greenery and discover that anything goes. Fruits, cones, ribbons – you name it.

The demonstration Trevor Jones gave to our garden club left several members feeling creative.