Saturday, February 4

What Fuel Should You Burn in a Multi Fuel Stove?

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Of course it’s important to buy yourself the best multi fuel stove possible – one that is efficient, provides plenty of heat and looks good in your room.

However, your stove can only perform as well as the fuel you feed it.

We’ve talked a lot on our blog about the importance of only burning seasoned firewood on your log burner.

But, what about multi fuel stoves? What is the best fuel to burn if you aren’t using wood?

What is the best fuel for a multi fuel stove?

The great thing about multi fuel stoves is that they offer the possibility of burning a number of different fuels.

This is ideal if you live somewhere that you can’t depend on being able to source suitable firewood on a regular basis.

However, it’s still important that you are burning the best fuels for your stove.

What differentiates a multi fuel stove from a log burner is the grate. To be able to burn coal, your fire will need to be able to take in air from below. So, multi fuel burners feature a vented grate for you to place your coals on.

wood logs and coal in a pile

If however, you wanted to burn wood, this type of grate isn’t ideal. Logs burn best when sat on a bed of ash and taking in air from above, so a solid base is better. Some multi fuel stoves have a removable grate or offer a wood burning kit, which means you can burn logs just as efficiently as you can burn coal. If it doesn’t, then it’s likely that coal will burn better in your multi fuel stove than wood.

So, if you are pretty sure you only want to burn wood, it’s best to stick to a regular log burner. If you think you will mainly burn coal or smokeless fuels – which is particularly important if you live in a smoke control area – then try to stick to them as much as possible in your multi fuel stove.

Can you use normal coal on a multi fuel stove?

If you are new to the world of multi fuel stoves, you might think you can use any type of coal. But, this isn’t the case.

It was once normal to burn bituminous house coal in stoves and fireplaces across the country. However, as we are now more aware of the dirt and pollution it creates, it’s no longer recommended that you use it to heat your home.

In fact, by 2021 the sale of bagged traditional house coal will start being phased out, with the sale of loose coal direct to customers planned to end by 2023.

Why is this? Well, normal house coal produces heavy levels of smoke, particulate matter and sulphur, all of which have a hugely negative impact on the air quality and environment.

While it is relatively cheap and easy to produce, it’s negatives far outweigh these minor benefits. Instead of normal coal, it is now encouraged that all households use smokeless coal – in fact, this type of fuel will probably be seen as ‘normal’ in just a few years!

You can find out more about the ban on burning coal on our blog.

What is the best smokeless fuel for multi fuel stoves?

So, we know now that smokeless fuel is a far better option for your multi fuel stove than so called ‘normal’ house coal.

The question now is, which smokeless fuel is best to use for a multi fuel stove?

Anthracite – Clean burning & efficient

One of the most commonly burnt types of smokeless fuels used in UK homes today is anthracite – otherwise known as ‘hard coal’.

As its alternative name suggests, anthracite is much harder and more compact than regular house coal. It has a high carbon content and few impurities, which means it burns far cleaner than softer, dirtier coals too. It also produces less smoke and pollutants when burnt, making it ideal for multi fuel stoves in our homes.

What’s more, the low level of smoke means that fuels like anthracite can be used in smoke control zones, too! Even better, as it is so much cleaner than regular coal, it will keep your stove and flue healthier. Less smoke means less dirt and creosote, reducing the risk of blockages even chimney fires.

Related: How to Have a Wood Burning Stove in a Smoke Control Area

So, are there any downsides to using a smokeless coal like anthracite?

Well, it may seem a little more expensive than house coal at first. This is down to the fact that it is less readily available. However, you have to take into account the fact that anthracite burns at a hotter temperature and can last for up to 40% longer than normal coal!

So, even though it can cost a little more upfront, it is better in the long run as you won’t need to use as much.

How to burn anthracite in a multi fuel stove

One other slight downside of burning anthracite is that it is a little harder to light than normal coal. This is because it is so much denser, meaning it needs a higher temperature to catch light.

When burning anthracite in a multi fuel stove, always start with a clean grate, as ash can block the air flow from below. Build a small tower of kindling around your firelighters – use a very dry hardwood that can produce high levels of heat. Once it is red hot, start adding some small pieces of anthracite.

If you find it too troublesome to light, you can use it alongside other smokeless fuels. Once you’ve got your fire going, you can add some anthracite in with your smokeless fuel to get the benefits of its high and long lasting heat.

What about other ‘smokeless briquettes’?

smokeless briquettes

It’s not only pure anthracite that is suitable for use in a multi fuel stove. There are plenty of other smokeless fuels out there that have the exact same benefits – burning cleanly and efficiently.

Some fuels are made from ground down anthracite or coal which is reformed into smokeless briquettes, sometimes with other renewable materials. They’re often known as ‘ovals’, too, and can be easier to light and less expensive than solid anthracite.

A big sign you should be looking for when choosing a smokeless fuel for your stove is whether it is HETAS or DEFRA approved. This means that it is certified for being both safe to use and produces low enough emissions to be burnt in a smoke control zone.

You should also consider the size of the briquettes you buy. Visually, a good chunky briquette or oval piece of fuel helps your stove produce a lovely flame display. Just make sure they fit nicely into your stove. Remember, larger briquettes might be harder to light, too.

As a final word, we always recommend buying as good quality fuel as you can afford for your stove. While you might not think it’s worth it, it really does pay off in the long run. Not only is good quality fuel more cost effective and often better for the environment, it can help protect your stove, too.

Clean fuels keep your flue working at its best, plus you won’t have as much smoke dirtying up your stove glass!

Invest in a good smokeless fuel and enjoy your stove for many years to come!

Are you looking for a new multi fuel stove?

See our fantastic range at Direct Stoves – all with free delivery and flexible finance options available!

More from the Direct Stoves blog

Buying Guide: What is a Multi Fuel Stove? | When is it Time to Replace Your Wood Burning Stove? | Wood Burning Stoves vs Multi Fuel Stoves: Which is Best?


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