Inflammatory headlines in the Daily Mail dated 23rd February 2016 have caused worry for owners of wood-burning stoves and frustration for the fuel supply industry.

The article relates to a lengthy report issued by the Royal College of Physicians entitled ‘The lifelong impact of air pollution’ and deals with all the causes and effects of poor air quality, an issue which is high on the political agenda.

However, within the 106 page document there is only one paragraph which addresses issues surrounding wood burning. Sadly, The Daily Mail saw to print alarmist and misleading details which do not represent the true picture.

In order to address demands set by an EU Directive on air quality following the revelation that the UK had exceeded maximum emission levels, the government has set up a large number of Air Quality Management Areas to monitor pollution levels. The results of this monitoring during 2015 clearly show the culprit is transport, especially in city centres and busy stretches of motorway.

Vehicles are the main source of Nitrous Oxide emissions (97%) of the remainder the bulk of particulate matter (PM10) is also traffic related. Reports from DEFRA indicate the prime cause is diesel engine exhaust.

Some years ago, when CO2 emissions were of major concern it was decided to encourage consumers to buy diesel engine cars and over the past 15 years sales rose from 14% to 50% today. And whilst modern petrol engine design has improved the levels of emissions, there are substantially more vehicles on the roads, world-wide.
Thus, the humble stove does not deserve the bad press and consumers should not and feel guilty nor concerned for the health of their family and neighbours.


With the lights about to be switched off at Kellingley, the UK’s last deep coal mine, the Solid Fuel Association has confidently declared a future for coal in the UK.

Pressures to meet both climate change targets of CO2 and EU particulate emissions has placed UK coal fired generators in the firing line, despite the fact that the UK consumed only 0.8% of the worlds coal last year at 37.1m tonnes compared to China who consumed a whopping 1.96billion tonnes (50.6%).

Despite the doom and gloom around the industry however, there remains a strong demand for solid fuel for the domestic consumer. Sales of fires and stoves remain healthy and demand for solid fuel alongside logs continues, with an estimated 700,000 tonnes being supplied each year. And contrary to media speculation, there is no shortage of suitable fuel to satisfy the market.

Jim Lambeth, the General Manager of the Solid Fuel Association, the official body representing the solid fuel industry in the UK, said:

Customers should have no fears that their solid fuel deliveries are endangered. There is no risk to continued supplies of domestic solid fuel for home heating and the colliery closures reported will have little impact on domestic fuel availability. We would encourage customers to contact the Solid Fuel Association or talk to their local Approved Coal Merchant if they are concerned.

Hargreaves, one of the UK’s largest remaining coal operators, also believe that British produced domestic and industrial coal is alive and kicking, after recently investing £1m completely redesigning and refurbishing a coal preparation plant to ensure they can supply the domestic market.

For centuries coal has provided fuel for heating our homes, ran our trains, powered our ships, made our iron and steel and significantly, until this year, provided just below half of our electricity. Removing coal from the electricity generation mix could jeopardise our ability to meet consumer demand. Coal has always provided the electricity base-load but experts believe we will have insufficient renewable energy capacity to match consumption at times of peak demand.


hargreaves-logoBritish produced domestic and industrial coal is still alive and kicking, according to Hargreaves who recently invested £1m completely redesigning and refurbishing a coal preparation plant.
The facility, at Killoch in Ayshire, will replace Hargreaves existing operations at Garleffan. Around 18 jobs have been created at the site which will be fully operational at the end of October and will continue to produce the existing range of products for the domestic market including Doubles (55x32mm), Trebles (90x55mm) and Cobbles (120x90mm).
Brian Noonan, an industry veteran and Quality Control Manager for Hargreaves, said; ‘We have made a major long term investment in this plant, it has been completely overhauled and our mining activity will see us supplying high quality housecoals to all corners of the UK’.
The new facility includes a Dense Medium Drum Plant capable of processing 150 tph. The coal quality will be identical to the product from the Garleffan facility – with both facilities supplied by the same mines - with a typical ash content of 3.5-4% and net cv of c.29,500kj/kg.
Darran Bown, Commercial Sales Manager for Hargreaves said;
‘Many merchants have taken Garleffan products for the first time this summer since the sad demise of UK Coal and we have been delighted with the positive feedback it has received.
Having been involved in selling UK produced housecoal for many years I have been hugely impressed with the quality control and consistency from Garleffan and more importantly, so have our customers. The new facility at Killoch will only improve the quality and quantity of product we have available and be a more than adequate replacement for the UKC coals that have now disappeared.’
Richard Higginbottom from Fred Tarry, a customer of Hargreaves, based in Northampton, said;
‘With the demise of the Yorkshire deep-mine pits we needed to find a suitable replacement Treble coal. We decided to try Garlaffen and have been pleased with the result. The fuel is well presented, being very clean and standard in size. We have no adverse comments from customers – in fact I don’t think any of them have noticed the change.’
Tim Powell of AE Prentice Fuels in Oxfordshire added;
‘We have had the Garlaffen coal doubles and trebles for the last few years and had no complaints. Only praise on the top quality of the coal.’
Despite a downturn in demand for power generation coal, Hargreaves announced to the stock market this year that it is focussing its mining activity on premium domestic and industrial coals. Mining plans for the winter season and beyond will see the company select the highest quality seams to ensure consistency in the product.
And with this £1million investment, Hargreaves is proving that there is still life in the British domestic coal market for many years to come.

 Hargreaves Services plc is based in Esh Winning and is listed on the AIM market
 Turnover of £662.2million year ending May 2015
 Hargreaves employ around 2500 people throughout the UK
 Hargreaves has one of the largest bulk haulage fleets in the UK
 Hargreaves is one of the largest remaining coal miners in the UK
 Hargreaves is a leading provider of industrial services in the UK and abroad
 At present, between 20%- 30% of electricity generated in the UK is through coal fired power stations. Despite there being a significant need for coal in the UK, almost 80% of coal used is imported from the likes of Russia and South America.

For further information - Neil Whittaker Group Communication Manager T: 0191 373 4485 M: 07939 907 326 -  neil.whittaker@hsgplc.co.uk - www.hsgplc.co.uk


The Construction Products Directive has been replaced by the Construction Products Regulation. This may not sound much of a difference but it means that all solid fuel appliances placed on the market after this date must be CE marked by law.

Stocks of products already held at retailers on this date will be exempt because they are deemed to be already “on the market”. However appliance manufacturer’s warehouse stocks will need to be CE marked before they pass through the factory gates.


charcoal-grill-ovenThere are potential dangers from barbecues and in particular, the fact that coals that appear to be dead can still emit dangerous carbon monoxide fumes.

The HSE have made us aware of two related incidents involving catering establishments where after cooking had finished for the day, unattended charcoal grill ovens caused a build-up of carbon monoxide which subsequently percolated into neighbouring premises and resulted in two cases of carbon monoxide poisoning.

This type of charcoal oven should ideally be flued directly to the outside via a purpose built chimney in accordance with Approved Document J of the Building Regulations. However, we are aware that in some cases, the grill is simply positioned beneath a commercial kitchen extractor as shown in the picture.

There are two major risks that need to be guarded against when using this arrangement:

  • Lack of proper maintenance can lead to blockage or failure of the extraction system – it is important to follow exactly the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.
  • Because dangerous products of combustion (including CO) will still be emitted after cooking finishes for the day, the extraction system must be kept working for as long as is necessary to prevent a build-up of poisonous fumes.

The oven manufacturer’s instructions for installation, maintenance and use should always be carefully followed.

The HSE are to issue a guidance document on this subject.


150mm chimney liner blocked with deposits

Burning unseasoned logs can result in two very serious problems associated with condensation in the chimney - blockages and chimney fires.

Water vapour combines with other gases and particles going up the chimney and unless the chimney is kept warm, the condensation forms a creosote-like substance which hardens to form tar on the surface of chimney liners and may seep into brickwork in an unlined chimney. Wet logs cause the chimney to cool and so condensation occurs and a residue is formed. This residue is brown or black and can be flaky, sticky, runny, tar-like or hardened and will sometimes be all of these in the same flue. The chimney may become completely blocked or the volatile residue can ignite causing a dangerous chimney fire.

The excessive condensation from wet wood which normally forms in the upper part of the chimney is acidic in nature and can also corrode the inner surface of a metal liner, eventually leading to perforation and failure of the liner.
To avoid these problems, the SFA recommend that only well-seasoned or kiln dried firewood with low moisture content (less than 25%) should be used.


Moisture content of wood
Trees vary enormously in moisture content when felled. In summer, up to 65% of the weight of newly felled timber can be water.
Forestry work continues all year round but for the domestic heating market, trees should be felled ideally in winter and certainly before the end of March when the moisture content starts to dramatically increase. Trees felled in summer will take much longer to season. Some species of trees felled in winter will be ready for use the following winter. The target moisture content for firewood is 20% or less (wet basis) and this is often specified by the appliance manufacturer. Firewood ready for burning should never contain more than 25% moisture.
Note - Consistently low moisture content is also achieved by kiln drying.

Log storage
A log store of at least 1.5 m³ is recommended where a property is heated by a log burning stove so that a standard delivery of 1m³ can be accommodated when the store is still a quarter full. The store should be roofed and well ventilated on at least two sides.
Proprietary wood stores are available in various sizes.
Where the intention is to buy unseasoned “wet” or “green” wood, a much larger storage capacity will be required so that logs obtained one or two years previously can be properly stored for the duration of the seasoning process i.e. storage capacity for three years supply of hardwood and two years for softwood will be required.
The logs should ideally be stored under cover and off the ground but open on at least two sides so that air can pass through. A sunny and windy location is ideal. The logs should ideally be no more than 10cm (4?) thick and cut to a convenient length for the stove or grate (Any logs with a diameter greater than 6” (150mm) should be split before storage).
The logs will lose 10-25% of moisture a year in this way, depending on the type of tree. Some of the hard woods such as Beech, Elm and Oak require two if not three summers to season thoroughly.
Top tip -Seasoned logs will typically have bark which comes away easily, splits across the grain and will create a hollow ringing sound when two logs are knocked together rather than the dull thud of wet wood.

The effect of moisture upon appliance efficiency


It is very inefficient to burn inadequately seasoned logs because much of the heat produced as the wood burns will be required to drive off the moisture contained within the logs as steam.

You would need to burn around three times as many unseasoned logs to achieve the same heat output as well seasoned or kiln dried logs (see illustration).


wood fuel log pileWood fuel can be divided into two main categories – “Hardwood” from deciduous trees and “Softwood” from conifers or evergreens.

Hardwood versus softwood
Hardwood is denser than softwood so has a higher heat content or calorific value. Typically, the heat content of softwood is a little more than half as much as hardwood by volume.
Typical heat content of hardwood 2,300kWh/m³ (stacked)
Typical heat content of softwood 1,300kWh/m³ (stacked)

Broadly speaking, around twice as many softwood logs as hardwood logs may be required to achieve the same heat output so more frequent refueling will be necessary when burning softwood. On the other hand, softwood tends to light more easily than hardwood and burns faster due to its resin content. It gives more immediate heat so is ideal for kindling and initial burning.

1. Some common wood types - Suitable for both open fires and closed appliances
Ash, Beech, Birch, Blackthorn, Elm, Eucalyptus, Hawthorn, Hazel, Hornbeam, Maple, Oak, Rowan, Sycamore, Wild Cherry, Willow, Alder, Apple, Pear, Holly.
2. Wood types prone to crackling and spitting - Suitable for closed appliances only (stoves and cookers)
Cedar, Douglas Fir, Horse Chestnut, Larch, Plane, Sweet Chestnut, Willow.
In general, softwoods tend to be more prone to popping and spitting because of pockets of moisture or sap contained within the wood.
The risk of spitting will be reduced by effective seasoning or drying. Important Note: never leave an open fire unattended without a fireguard!
3. Other common wood types and their characteristics
Elder –Produces a thick acrid smoke.
Lime – A low quality fuel.
Pine species generally (including Leylandi) – Can form oily soot deposits in a chimney.
Poplar – Traditionally used for matchsticks, poor heat output but useful for kindling.
Spruce – A low quality firewood for use in closed appliances only.
Note: Laburnum and Yew are poisonous so care must be exercised when using as firewood. Because of the contamination risk, they are not recommended for cookers. However, Yew in particular gives good heat in a stove
.4. Recovered wood 
Recovered wood (joinery offcuts) should be clean, cut to length and not treated or painted. Chipboard, plywood and MDF should not be burnt as they contain chemical binders and adhesives which could produce toxic emissions which adversely affect the inner surface of the chimney. Please note that so-called “tanalised” timber contains arsenic.
Species of wood Density (solid)
Heat content
% moisture
when green
to season
ASH 674 4.1 (6,350) 35 1
BEECH 690 4.3 (6,700) 45 1-2
BIRCH 662 4.1 (6,350) 45 1
ELM 540 3.6 (5,600) 60 2-3
OAK 770 4.5 (7,000) 50 2-3
POPLAR 465 2.6 (4,100) 65 1
PINE / FIR 410 2.6 (4,100) 60 1


The SFA have been foremost in promoting woodburning stoves in the UK for many years. However, we are of the firm belief that it is the multifuel stove rather than the pure wood burning stove or pellet stove which offers the consumer the clearest benefit. Here are ten reasons why.

  1. Choice- The owner of a multifuel stove has the widest range of fuels to choose from including the superior comfort and convenience offered by solid mineral fuel. Many newcomers to wood burning underestimate the amount of wood and the frequency of refueling required to maintain heat output. As we will see later on, burning mineral fuel can help address both of these issues.
  2. Cost effectiveness - According to the Sutherland tables, solid smokeless mineral fuel is the most cost effective method of heating a room. Moreover solid fuel central heating is less expensive than LPG, oil and biomass.
  3. Convenience- When mineral fuel is burnt on a stove, the refueling interval will be far greater than when burning wood alone (four to five hours compared to half to one hour for wood fuel). This can make it easier for the stove to fit into a busy modern lifestyle.
  4. Overnight burning- It is quite possible for the stove to burn through the night with mineral fuel.
  5. Supply- During extended periods of cold weather, good quality well-seasoned wood fuel can become very scarce. A reliable supply of mineral fuel from your local coal merchant can sustain your stove through these periods.
  6. Security- With a multifuel stove, the room can be kept warm and cosy even during power cuts. A kettle on a flat-topped stove could provide a warming cup of tea or coffee. Moreover, a jacket potato cooked in the ashpit or hot buttered toast could also be on the menu with a multifuel stove!
  7. Heat content of solid fuel- One full bunker of mineral fuel is likely to contain as much heat energy as up to four bulk bags (cubic metres) of logs.
  8. Self-sufficiency- The beauty of solid fuel is that you can hold stock. This insulates the customer against price increases. A full bunker of mineral fuel could easily sustain a roomheater throughout the winter or even keep a boiler model running through a prolonged period of cold weather when suitable wood fuel may be difficult to source.
  9. Environment- Imported wood fuels are likely to be the product of large scale felling of forests which completely destroys the natural environment and prematurely liberates huge quantities of carbon dioxide stored in the wood. By way of a contrast, coal mining is always carried out with due regard to conservation and the environment. Indeed, the restoration work carried out by mining companies after mining ceases can actually increase the environmental and amenity value of land which was previously derelict.
  10. Carbon emissions – Recent studies have suggested that typical carbon dioxide emissions from processed wood-based “biomass” products such as wood pellets are 50% greater than coal. However, a stove burning a mixture of coal and well-seasoned wood from a sustainable local source is likely to have a smaller “carbon foot print” than a gas appliance.

Finally, 70% of customers can’t be wrong – It is estimated that around 70% of stove buyers choose the multifuel option.


open-fireplaceMore and more people are opening up their fireplaces to enjoy the warmth and comfort of an open coal fire. The 'living flame' becomes the focus of the room and the family.

An open fire always creates a cosy sense of well-being.

There are hundreds of different styles to choose from and they all offer the 'living flame' and reassuring glow that only a real fire can provide.

The open fire provides heat for your home by direct radiation, although some fires are available with a convection chamber to circulate warm air around the room.

Controllable open fires are capable of slow burning through the night for up to eight hours on one fueling (mineral fuel) and easy slide-out ash pans allow the removal of ash without having to let the fire go out.

Free standing canopy open fires are also available for installation into large inglenook fireplace openings.

For more information see our literature section for the downloads “Opening up your fireplace” and “Period Fireplaces”, plus you can view our YouTube video here


Barbeques are a great way to enjoy the benefits of solid fuel outdoors. However, they have been linked to several camp-site deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is naturally produced by the combustion of all fuels including both gas and charcoal. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it but it can build up within confined spaces and kill quickly with no warning.

Whether you use a portable hibachi grill, disposable grill, large scale barbeque or even a gas fired model, make sure you keep yourself and others safe by following the basic barbeque rules.

Top four tips for Barbeque safety:

  • Never take a smouldering or lit barbeque into a confined space such as a tent, caravan or cabin. Even if you have finished cooking and the coals appear to be dead, the barbeque should remain outside as it will still give off fumes for some hours after use.
  • Never use a barbeque inside to keep you warm.
  • Arrange your cooking area well away from your tent and ensure that there is an adequate supply of fresh air in the area where the barbeque is being used.
  • Always use your barbeque equipment in accordance with the operating instructions.


wood & multifuel guidesolid fuel guideThe guides are available to download. See our LITERATURE page for these and other informative solid fuel publications.

Solid Fuel Association Guide to Wood and Multifuel
Coal merchants have always traditionally sold firewood alongside coal. However, renewed interest by consumers in burning wood, mainly in multifuel stoves, is stimulating a growing demand for wood fuel. This guide is designed to help people to select and burn firewood safely and efficiently. Wood fuel can be divided into two main categories – “Hardwood” from deciduous trees and “Softwood” from conifers or evergreens.

SFA Guide to Solid Mineral Fuels
A guide to suitable applications for solid mineral fuels including: Open Fires; Closed appliances (Roomheaters, Multifuel stoves and Cookers); AGA type heat storage cookers & Gravity Feed Boilers


Sales of solid fuel stoves have soared over recent years. Aside from the practical advantages of solid fuel, a stove makes a fashionable addition to the modern home and no other heating system can match the “wow” factor or the cosy sense of comfort and well-being that an open fire or stove lends to a room. To many people, the cosy glow and flickering flames are part of what makes a house into a home.
The vast majority of the so-called “woodburning stoves” installed should be more properly referred to as “multifuel” stoves and it is this type rather than the wood-only stove that has experienced the greatest increase in popularity.
The main advantage of a multifuel stove is that it can burn a range of solid fuels as well as wood. This gives the user the added convenience offered by mineral fuels and the flexibility of being able to select fuel according to price and availability.
multi-fuel stoveReasons to choose a multifuel stove:

  • Low running costs - Solid fuel is an efficient and economical method of heating. According to the Sutherland comparative heating tables, the cost of central heating with anthracite has been consistently lower than both oil and LPG and is actually on a par with natural gas.
    Moreover, the solid fuel roomheater is reckoned to be the most cost effective method of space heating.
  • Health - Solid fuel heating can greatly reduce condensation, eliminating household mould. Medical research has also suggested in the past that solid fuel heating can reduce the risk of hay fever, asthma and eczema.
    Homes with solid fuel heating are better ventilated than those with other forms of heating because the chimney causes fresh air to be drawn in and evacuates the stale air.
  • Availability - Solid fuel users in almost all areas enjoy the benefits of a well-developed and regulated distribution system via local members of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme. As the UK still has enormous reserves of coal, future supplies are assured. Supplies of firewood are also set to increase in line with the increased demand from multifuel stoves.
  • Convenience - The frequency of refueling and the quantity of wood needed to maintain adequate heat output can be underestimated by newcomers to wood burning.
    Fortunately, the calorific value of a mineral fuel such as anthracite is around four times that of wood and its heat output is more sustained. Therefore, the mutifuel stove can provide the “best of both worlds” by allowing the wood burning enthusiast to also enjoy the practical benefits of coal when required such as reduced frequency of refueling and even overnight burning.
  • Security of supply - solid fuel stove owners can feel secure in the knowledge that if they have fuel in stock, they will always be able to keep warm and cosy. Indeed, with a flat topped stove, a kettle of boiling water is only a few moments away! Moreover, in an uncertain world, investment in solid fuel heating can provide an insurance policy against the threat of future gas and power cuts or the volatile price fluctuations of other domestic fuels.
  • Choice and flexibility –In smoke control areas, smokeless solid fuels such as anthracite can still be burnt and even seasoned firewood can be used if the appliance is one of the DEFRA exempted models.
  • CO2 - Those users concerned about CO2 emissions may be surprised to learn that a stove burning a 50:50 mix of wood and coal can have a smaller carbon footprint than a typical gas boiler.

A stove can be used as the primary central heating source, an occasional secondary heat source or even linked up to an existing open vented oil or gas central heating system.
SFA stove manufacturers page - Link up


“Safety Guide for Solid Fuel Users” is available for download from this site. The guide clearly highlights the three golden rules of safety for solid fuel - proper ventilation, regular sweeping and the correct fuel.
This guide is also available as an A4 double sided leaflet from the SFA and can be ordered on our literature page.
As well as the private solid fuel user, the guide may be of particular interest to local authority housing departments for distribution to their tenants ... download here


solid fuel association logoIt’s a question that people sometimes ask about our distinctive SFA logo.

Well, to get the answer you need to go back to 1988 and our iconic “Real Fire” adverts.

Visit our YouTube account and view the “Real Fire” video



Be aware of the risks which may result from frozen water pipes. Apart from the inconvenience of water leaks resulting from the damage caused by expanding ice, there is a real danger should you try to light your fire or boiler before the pipes are fully thawed.
If the pipework is frozen when the fire is lit there is no way the hot water can circulate around the system. This could result in a build up of pressure within the boiler, resulting in an explosion and consequential injury to occupants.
Under no circumstances light a fire before the pipes are thawed !


Before firing up your home heating at the start of Autumn, there are a few important jobs which need attention:

  • Don’t forget, if you have not already done so, it is advisable to get the chimney swept before lighting the fire. Perhaps a task better scheduled for the summer months.
  • The chimney is a very important part of your heating system, designed to efficiently remove toxic flue gasses to the outside of your property. Blockages or restrictions in the flue, which may occur following periods of heavy rain, can result in exposure to carbon monoxide which is very dangerous. Any doubts about the condition of your chimney should be investigated by a chimney engineer to identify potential risks.
  • There is increasing public awareness of the risks from CO poisoning and advisory literature is shortly to be distributed to customers. Carbon monoxide alarms are widely available at affordable prices.
  • All heating appliances need annual servicing, rather like your car. This will ensure it operates safely and efficiently. Routine checks of flues, door seals, air controls and fire parts will help to ensure you get maximum value from the fuel burned. Similarly, your central heating system may benefit from an annual check-over. We recommend this work be carried out by a qualified HETAS Registered Engineer to be found on www.hetas.co.uk .
  • Of course, don’t forget to order your winter fuel before the cold weather sets in. It’s no good waiting until the last minute before contacting your Coal Merchant. They cannot respond quickly to fulfil your needs when demand is high.


Here are just some of the benefits of Solid Fuel and Wood heating systems:

  • Heating a single room with Solid Fuel is usually cheaper than by oil or gas.
  • Most Solid Fuel appliances are multi-fuel meaning you can burn both coal and wood.
  • A Solid Fuel appliance with a boiler can be linked to many central heating systems to enable you to cut the cost of heating bills whilst you enjoy the benefits of a real fire. For more information download the Link-Up leaflet from our website literature page.
  • A chimney promotes healthy circulation of air in a dwelling.
  • Simple open fires and stoves do not need electricity to operate.
  • There are over 500 Coal Merchants throughout the UK and supplies of pre-packed wood and coal are also available from supermarkets, DIY stores, farmer’s cooperatives and garage forecourts. For details of your nearest Coal Merchant look on the Approved Coal Merchant pages of our website.

Solid Fuel Heating System could save you money and add to your comfort and security.


There are certain health benefits associated with the open flue function that is necessary for combustion in all solid fuel appliances. The open flue way not only removes the products of combustion safety out of the home but also draws in fresh supplies of air. British Standards specify the minimum ventilation rates for various rooms in domestic dwellings – gas radiant fires and electric heating compare poorly with solid fuel in this respect.

The constant cycle of air coupled with continuous heat has two direct benefits:

  • It minimizes the incidence of condensation and mould growth problems which plague so many gas and electric heated homes. Spores of mould are allergenic and a source of bronchial irritation.
  • it removes via the chimney other gases and particles in the air which may give rise to bronchial disorders such as asthma, hay fever etc.

Medical research has demonstrated that people living in houses with solid fuel heating are significantly less likely to suffer from asthma and hay fever compared to those living in houses with other forms of heating. Your chimney has other benefits too. It acts as a heat store and will release heat into the dwelling after the fire has gone out.


Installing a chimney these days is not as difficult as you might think. We can put you in touch with a specialist company who can survey your home, provided a quotation and undertake the most suitable installation. With a chimney available, the choice of appliances is vast. For free advice and information contact The Solid Fuel Association on 01773 835400.


Approved Coal MerchantThe Approved Coal Merchant’s Scheme is a Code of Practice for Retail Coal Merchants. Membership of the Scheme is voluntary, but 80% of coal merchants belong to it. The Code of Practice lays down certain standards designed to ensure that retail solid fuel customers get a good service from their coal merchant. A coal merchant can only become a member of the Scheme if he/she can satisfy a panel of industry peers that he/she has sufficient knowledge of fuels and appliances, the law relating to retail coal deliveries and matters of safety. The merchant must also satisfy the Panel that customers will be able to rely on good service. You will find an up to date list of Scheme members on our Approved Coal Merchants page.

All coal merchants who are members of the scheme must have a procedure for dealing with customer complaints and any complaints should be addressed promptly. Should a customer not be satisfied with a response to a complaint, the Scheme will intervene to help to resolve the matter. We have Regional Coordinators who can visit customers if matters cannot be resolved over the telephone, which they often can be.

What sort of complaints might you have? - Sometimes customers are unsure if they have a valid reason to complain. Maybe they have changed merchants and the fuel they are getting is different. Maybe the fuel is very dusty or very wet? Perhaps the manufactured fuel doesn't’t seem to burn like the last load. We are happy to listen to what customers have to say and make suggestions as to the cause of the problem. It may be the fuel, the appliance, or how customer is using the appliance. If there is a problem with the fuel, we can ask the manufacturer or the coal merchant to sort the problem out. If we think that there is something wrong with the appliance or the chimney, we can put the customer in touch with an engineer or a chimney sweep. All complaints are logged and reported to the National Panel. Merchants can have their membership of the scheme terminated if they fail to uphold the rules.

Who Governs the Scheme? - The National Panel (membership on the Area Panels reflect this) consists of senior representatives from the coal producers and manufacturers, the merchants, the wholesalers and most importantly, two consumer representatives (one on Area Panels). The Scheme also has an independent Chairman. If a merchant or a customer is not satisfied by the way the scheme has treated them, there is a right of appeal to the Chairman, who will usually investigate with his consumer colleagues. Such occasions are however rare.

We hope that you will be entirely satisfied with your fuel, but if you have a complaint, or a query about quality, you can telephone us during normal office hours, Monday to Friday. Ask for Jim Lambeth. You can ring the same number for a copy of the Code of Practice. 01773 835400


If you buy your fuel in prepacks from a cash & carry outlet, consider saving money by buying in open sacks from your local merchant and the fuel will be delivered to your door.


Let our experts guide you every step of the way. The Solid Fuel Association has a range of leaflets (many of them you can download from this site) that will tell you all you need to know about solid fuel heating. More than that – we can give you advice over the telephone on all aspects of solid fuel heating from building a chimney to choice of appliance and fuels. We can arrange experts to contact you to assist you do the work such as registered HETAS engineers or help you with suppliers for appliances and ancillary products.

A HETAS Registered engineer could also come and give you a quotation for all your heating requirements. In addition, we can help you with the technical aspects of building a fireplace that will work and guidance on Building Regulations.

So, if you are thinking of updating or putting in a new solid fuel or wood burning system, send us an e-mail or telephone 01773 835400 between 9.00 am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday.


It's important to have your chimney swept at least once a year and 'there's no time like the present'. Our safety page will give you more information on the safety of your solid fuel appliance. We can also help you find a chimney sweep.