There have been a lot of talk lately, about if we should increase the taxes on firewood and wooden briquettes or even ban the use of these product completely for private users. For some this may sound like a joke, because most of us know that this type of fuel is Co2 neutral. Co2 neutral means, that while growing the three absorbed a certain amount of Co2 from the air. When burning the tree this amount of Co2 is released again, so by using firewood for heating, you use a lot less Co2 compared to oil or gas. So why is the goverment even considering increase the taxes on these types of products, or maybe even banning them completely? We asked an expert – Jens from Brænde og Briketter, a store producing and selling firewood, and he did his best to explain the problem to us.
The main problems isn’t the products, when burning wooden briquettes or pure firewood, the right way, you get clean heat in a way that doesn’t really affects the environment much. It’s way better than oil, gas or even windmills (as there are lot of pollution involved in building the windmills). The only Co2 you get from firewood is the transportation, and cutting it to the right sizes. So what is then so bad about it, and why does the goverment want us to use less firewood? According to Jens and some testing he did for kvalibrænde, the problem is how we burn it. When we burn wood that isn’t quite dry enough or we don’t get a high enough temperature, then we don’t get a clean fire and we won’t burn away most of the harmful particles like Dioxin.
Dioxin is a very potent carcinogen and endocrine disrupter, and is a very deadly air pollutant. dioxins increases the risk of genetic defects, cancer, birth defects, reproductive abnormalities, and immune dysfunction. When it gets out in the environment it is recycled there for several years. Recently we have discovered that Wood burning is the third largest source of dioxin in the United States. When burning firewood it rise high into the atmosphere as smoke particles, fall to the earth as rain, where it pollutes the soil and water. Accoring to some test from Brænde and Briketter, they noticed that burning one kilogram of wood, can result in 160 micrograms of dioxins.
This doesn’t mean that it’s always bad to use wood as a source of heat. Most of the time you get a good clean fire, and there isn’t any problems. But a modern wood stove that use catalytic combustors to reduce smoke emissions are particularly sensitive to fuel quality, so if you use wooden briquttes in a poor quality, wet wood or add some garbage to your stove, then you end up with a poor quality fire, which can’t remove all of the harmful particles, and you end up polluting the air. In order to reduce this problem, there have been some talk about putting more taxes on firewood, in order to get people to use less of it. Is there any difference if you use firewood or briquettes? Yes most of the time, you get a better fire with wooden briquettes as you can see in this example, but most of the time, you really wont notice any difference.