If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace for heat, weather primary or backup, you have probably at least looked at artificial fire logs. I have used a few different types of these and find that they do have a place next to my wood pile, but there are clear advantages & disadvantages to them. These logs are made from compressed sawdust recuperated from various wood manufacturing processes such as hardwood floor manufacturers. There are no adhesives or chemicals in the and are formed by pure pressure. This makes them a somewhat ecological choice.
Here are some of the advantages...
1 - Easy lighting.
The logs are easily lit with a minimum of kindling. Once lit they pretty much burn on their own. This makes things easier in the morning when there are only a few embers glowing in the stove.
2 - High burn temperature. Because of their high density and low moisture content, these logs burn at a higher temperature than traditional fire wood. This will allow you to heat up a cold room faster.
3 - Easy storing. The packaging makes them easy to stack. Keep them raised off the floor to avoid contact with moisture.
Here are some of the disadvantages...
1 - Cost. When not on sale these logs can be quite expensive, although many retailers will offer volume discounts, even offering specials for a whole pallet load. Thankfully, they do seem to go on sale quite often.
2 - Water kills. If these logs get wet, they will turn into a pile of useless, messy mush.
3 - Burn time. Although they burn hotter than traditional wood, you will find yourself stoking up the fire more often. Night logs will last longer, but you will still have to feed the fire sometime during the night.
There are 3 types of these logs that I use.
1 - 2 lb blocks (12 per pack)
These come in a square shape bundled in plastic wrap. 2 or 3 will be needed in order to make a fire of any substance. I use these 1 or 2 at a time with regular firewood to give the stove a boost when dealing with damp wood. Burn time for 2-3 blocks is about 1 - 1.5 hours.
2 - 3 lb logs (10 per box)
These work well when we first wake up. They light easily from embers and really give off some heat. Packaged in cardboard boxes, they stack well for storage, and we use the boxes afterwards for holding kindling. Burn time for 2 logs is about 2-2.5 hours.
3 - 5 lb night logs 4 per box)
These are supposed to last from 6 to 9 hours, intended to keep your fire going all night long. Althouh they do last quite a bit longer that the smaller ones, I find they fall short of the mark. I do use them at night but by early morning, there is almost no trace of them left. Burn time i about 5-6 hours for 1 log.
All in all, I do like these manufactured logs as they supplement the wood pile well. Buy them on sale and ALWAYS store them in a dry place indoors. You will find that they can serve you well as a compliment to traditional cut firewood, but don't depend on them as a primary fuel for your fire.
Keep warm, Canada.