Guidance on burning wood and coal

Guidance on burning wood and coal

As the winter nights draw in the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk is urging residents who heat their homes or businesses by burning wood or coal to take note of guidance available online.

The use and installation of open fires and wood burning stoves has risen in popularity over recent years. However the burning of wood and coal in the home is the largest single contributor to particulate matter pollution, making up 38% of emissions, compared to 16% from industrial combustion and 12% from road transport.

Particulate matter can cause breathing problems and contribute to long term health issues.

With this in mind, it is important that anyone who uses a wood burning stove or coal takes note of official guidance, so burning is undertaken safely and efficiently.

What can I burn?

  • On closed appliances (e.g. stoves and wood burners) it’s important to use only dry wood containing 20% moisture or less, or seasoned wood, as wet wood produces more smoke. The moisture levels of wood can be established using a moisture meter.
  • If you use regular coal, consider swapping to smokeless coal fuels; these will produce less pollution.
  • Logs used on either appliances or open fires should not be too large (5 inches wide is optimum).
  • If you are buying logs for immediate use, look for the ‘Ready to Burn’ logo or buy from a trusted source.
  • DO NOT burn treated waste wood (e.g. old furniture or pallets) or household rubbish as these can emit harmful fumes and toxic pollutants.

Did you know that, with correct use, the impact of a wood burning stove on air quality can be reduced by 80%?

Smoke control areas

There are areas in King’s Lynn & West Norfolk where only authorised smokeless fuels or exempted appliances may be used. Residents can check whether they live in a smoke control area on

Reducing Pollution?

  • Think if you have to burn - is it necessary?
  • Burn seasoned wood (including Ready to Burn) on a low emission appliance
  • Maintain stoves and sweep chimneys up to twice a year
  • Install a carbon monoxide monitor; this will alert you to dangerous fumes.

More information?

For more information and advice, please visit

More guidance can also be found by searching “burning wood and coal” at

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