The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Burn Wood, Feel Good


Burn Wood, Feel Good

By Scott Salveson, Director of the National Firewood Association

The National Firewood Association (NFA) gives firewood a positive voice in the public sphere.

It’s easy to feel good about burning wood. Burned locally, using proper techniques in an efficient stove, firewood is an eco-friendly fuel that’s renewable, inexpensive and abundant in many areas. It has a place in contemporary discussions about alternative fuels and renewable resources. And it has a rich history of saving lives when all else had failed. 

Little in this world is as dependable and useful as firewood. Yet it is constantly under attack as being antiquated, irrelevant – a nuisance, if not a health hazard. 

Someone ought to do something

Nearly every conversation about burning wood begins with charges of air pollution and the environmental impacts of logging. Yet, experienced wood burners know that wood burns more efficiently without smoke and we have seen the remarkable results of a properly managed forest.

Firewood is typically harvested and produced within an hour’s drive from where it’s burned. No tanker ships, no pipelines. That alone gives it a head-start on environmental responsibility. It also stimulates your local economy. Even those who cut their own wood still need chainsaws and service, a chimney sweep, or a new stove – and lots of groceries.

The problem is that there is no recognized, unified voice to speak on behalf of firewood or defend it legislatively. It is at a significant disadvantage in representation when pitted against any other fuel, including wind or solar.

With no big corporations supporting it, firewood is vulnerable. 

The NFA speaks for firewood

As of November 2016, there are 13 bills specifically mentioning firewood before the United States Congress today. At the state level, 58 bills concerning firewood are under review. Further restrictions on burning, transport and storage crop up every year in local government actions across the country.

Firewood as a whole may never come under direct attack. However, it is evident that without representation, firewood is extremely vulnerable to “death by 1000 cuts” as state and local governments patch together a confusing web of varying restrictions and regulations.

In response, the NFAs “Burn Wood, Feel Good” campaign is designed to highlight the good news about firewood, educating the public on firewood’s positive attributes.

The NFA messages also offer solutions. It is our contention that misguided practices by inexperienced or ill-informed wood burners are the single largest cause of problems and complaints about burning wood. Our program will deliver basic educational messages targeted at helping the public understand the problems and solutions.

A short list: of common errors to be addressed: Burning unseasoned wood, not knowing when/how to regulate the draft on the stove, shoddy installation, substandard chimneys, etc. That’s without mentioning safety, a favorite topic of the insurance industry. We also address the lamentable lack of professionalism in the marketplace that often results in short loads of poor-quality firewood.

The most important thing to understand is that these problems will continue no matter how many regulations are placed on wood stoves. The NFA is the only organization focused on the proper use of the fuel itself.

We must become stewards of firewood fuel and take it upon ourselves to improve our own lot. There is simply no one else to do it.

The NFA proudly speaks for firewood on its merits alone: 

• Renewable

• Responsible

• Reliable

• Simple

• Inexpensive

• Available to millions

• Supports local economy

• Enjoyable 

What the NFA is doing to help

• We bring a pro-firewood voice to controversies and criticism of firewood

• We monitor and report on firewood and wood-burning related legislation

• We educate the public on proper firewood selection, storage and burning practices

Upcoming projects include efforts to hold our members accountable, including a resource for consumers to rate their firewood vendors online.

The searchable database will showcase NFA members and others with high ratings while discouraging the dodgy practices of “weekend warriors.” 

The NFA needs the support of consumers and firewood professionals alike. Our mission is to improve both the image and experience of burning wood to ensure that it remains relevant and prominent in any discussion or debate surrounding renewable resources and sustainable fuels. 

For more information on the NFA, see