The Dark Side of the Wood Stove Industry

You probably have seen “cozy” images of fireplaces or wood stoves with happy people, a blanket around them, and a hot beverage and you may have thought that’s something very appealing, I want that! Well, I would suggest thinking twice before taking that decision and if you have already taken it, maybe it’s time to undo your mistake.

You see, people get sick thanks to these “cozy” elements in houses. It’s very hard to undo the brain wash the wood stove industry has done all of these years but we have to realize that wood burning is neither sustainable nor healthy.

Many claims that biomass is sustainable but this is a myth. A story designed to push people into spending money for status or simple ineffective heating. You see, clean energy (wind, solar, etc) doesn’t require the user to buy fuel, logs, or pellets every season. It is there for us but doesn’t generate constant revenue for the companies.

People who live in neighborhoods where wood burning is present suffer from many health problems. The most common is asthma but what we don’t consider is why those people suffer from asthma in the first place. Air pollution is the predominant reason and wood burning asphyxiates neighborhoods with a cocktail of toxic pollutants.

I asked people on social media to send me legit images of the situation and I got a gazillion of them. From Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, France, and many more countries. I wasn’t able to process all of them but there is a small sample below.

This year will be even tougher for the European countries as the energy crisis and the ridiculous high electric price will force people into alternative “cheap” heat sources. I quote “cheap” because we pay it with life expectancy and medical bills later on. I wanted to warn my followers on Twitter that they need to find ways to protect themselves from air pollution due to wood burning and to my pleasant surprise some people are already aware.

I know that in theory, it may sound easy, but in reality when your monthly salary is not enough to cover expenses you need to find ways to survive. What I want to make clear though is that we need to think long-term in order to break this vicious cycle. In a 2021 study, researchers found that the same pollutants that exit from a chimney will also influence the indoor air of the same house.

Of course, in our modern society, most people don’t care about their neighbors, but they should care about their well-being. A 2022 study from the same researchers gives insight into why wood-burning stove users continue to burn when presented with data on indoor exposure. The way AQ data is presented to the homeowners plays an important role in the decision. 

I don’t think people will change their minds just because I share scientific studies (123, …) where there is a clear correlation between wood burning and health. It’s a fact that we don’t appreciate air the same way we appreciate other goods (food, drinks, materials).

I had a conversation with a journalist last week about the fact how the industry of wood burning is selling lies to people. He told me that the salesperson stated that the smoke that comes out of their pellets is safe because it is “natural” wood. Moreover, the salesperson stated that the smoke is not contributing to climate change. Of course, everything was lies. Initially, the journalist wasn’t educated on the air quality/pollution issues and didn’t fight back but after explaining to him the chemistry, he was shocked about the way they tried to manipulate him. Thankfully, he didn’t broadcast their lies.

Political willingness is needed in the equation to fix the air. Unfortunately, money moves the world but we need directions and legislation that will navigate companies and people in the right direction. Don’t buy into the lies that wood or biomass is sustainable.

9 thoughts on “The Dark Side of the Wood Stove Industry

  1. I’m confused on which meaning of the word “sustainable” this article is referring to. Clearly biomass (wood) is abundant, and as long as it’s replaced properly by planting trees, then how is wood fuel unsustainable? I’m not going to comment on the pollution factor. I will say here in the USA, our EPA has banned the production of stoves that perform outside of the new mandatory smoke emission limit for wood stoves, which is now 4.5 grams of smoke per hour (g/h). We are getting better at burning here in the USA.

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    • Hi, thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, biomass is burnt faster than it grows. The CO2 footprint is also very high due to transportation and the actual burning of the biomass. If I cut a tree today and burn it over a week, it will take at least over 10 years to grow at its initial state.

      It’s easier to find biomass, yes. It’s abundant, I don’t think so…

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    • How many trees do you need? My wife cut,split and stack about 2 cords per year while hundreds of seedlings are now given more light and will thrive now ,a constant rotation.
      As for pollution, more toxins and hazardous byproducts are created in one wind turbine’s production than many homes being heated by wood.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My family and I live on 20 acres in a 16×24 cabin. We burn mostly trees that have died (standing dead) and wood from trees that have been preserved naturally after falling on their own. Every now and then we have to cut trees that are precariously close to the cabin, so we sometimes burn that. At temperature, co2 and steam are about all that come out of the pipe. I’m not sure where you are getting these “unsustainable” and environmentally hazardous notions. Wind and solar and electricity and natural gas are not options here. What else would you have me do?

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    • Dear reader, thank you for your comment. I can understand that you cut down dead trees, it is totally fine and recommended in order to avoid wildfires. In this post, I discuss that people in urban areas burn wood for heating when they have alternative options. You apparently live in a remote location and you don’t have options. However, I would like to learn why solar, wind, or geothermal is not an option for you?

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      • Dear author, thank you for your comment. Please understand that I live halfway down the side of a mountain. It is made of rock. The water table is estimated to be 1000 to 1300 ft down. Plus, we would need electricity to pump the water up and circulate it. Geothermal is out of the question. We get about 4 hours of direct sunlight when there are no clouds. We are two days into a week long forecast of cloudy skies. Solar is not an option. Wind is not an option due to the mountain and trees blocking the wind. I’m not sure why anyone who lives in an urban area would try to get wood shipped in to them to burn with the price of wood even where I am being $75+ for a rick. However, in suburbia, pellet stoves would be a viable option and use sawdust from sawmills that would otherwise go to waste.

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      • In some locations where the geographical topography doesn’t allow winds to reach the population in order to “clean” the air, it creates a huge issue when wood burning smoke is accumulated to the ambient air. Many places (urban, suburbia, etc) have this sever issue.

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