Burn Firewood Gas Fireplace

Why You Can’t Burn Wood In A Gas Fireplace (But Can In A Gas Starter)

In Gas Fireplaces by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Gas fireplaces are commonly found installed as inserts within existing masonry open fireplaces, which in turn are often used to burn firewood to help create a real fire experience in a home.

Gas is the source of fuel for gas fireplaces and a gas line must be provided to the location of the gas fireplace in a home in order for it to work.

A gas fireplace is unable to burn firewood as the fuel, either alongside gas or by itself, as gas fireplaces aren’t setup to burn wood safely and effectively. Many gas fireplaces have logs in the firebox but these aren’t real. A gas fireplace would need to be converted to a wood burning fireplace or stove to burn wood.

As with all other gas fireplaces, our own gas fireplace isn’t able to burn wood.

We’ve explained in more detail below exactly why our gas fireplace isn’t able to burn firewood as fuel, including what you would need to do in order to be able to burn firewood in your home by converting your gas fireplace.

Can You Burn Wood In A Gas Fireplace?

Gas fireplaces cannot burn any form of wood, whether that’s firewood logs or wood pellets.

For example, firewood logs typically used in wood burning fireplaces, wood burning stoves or multi fuel stoves, or wood pellets used in pellet stoves, can’t be used in any form of gas fireplace.

Gas Fireplace & Firewood
You can’t burn any form of wood in a gas fireplace

As gas fireplaces are setup with a gas line to provide a constant supply of gas, this is the only type of fuel that can be used in a gas fireplace.

For example, when our gas fireplace was installed in a living room masonry open fireplace, a gas line was also installed as a separate line from the house gas main to the new gas fireplace insert.

Gas Fireplace
Our gas fireplace
The gas line (left) feeding the gas fireplace insert (right)

This gas line supplies the fuel required for a gas fireplace and is the only source of fuel that can be used safely.

Although many gas fireplaces provide the look of real wood logs to help create the fireplace experience, these are fake and serve no purpose other than aesthetics. These logs are made from fire resistant materials such as ceramic and can’t burn.

Gas Fireplace Logs
An example of the faux logs in a gas fireplace

The main reasons why gas fireplaces can’t burn wood are that:

  • Gas fireplaces aren’t designed to support the heat generated by burning wood.
  • The location and orientation of any ceramic logs and/or coals can be compromised and create a safety hazard.
  • Gas fireplaces aren’t able to deal with the build-up of ash.
  • Smoke can enter your home rather than leaving via the chimney or flue due to the wrong ventilation system for that type of fuel.
  • Clearance distances may not be the same for wood as gas, potentially leading to an increased risk of fire hazards.

The manual for our own gas fireplace explains:

Do not burn any foreign material on this fire, the coals or pebbles must be of the correct type and laid out in accordance with the relevant section of these instructions. Failure to do so could create a hazard or lead to sooting.’

Focal Point Fires
Our particular gas fireplace uses faux coals instead of logs

Converting A Gas Fireplace To Burn Wood

If you have a standalone built-in gas fireplace that was put into your home as a bespoke installation, then it may not be so easy to convert that gas fireplace to burn wood.

Due to the different venting arrangements required between different types of fireplace that burn different fuels, it can be more difficult to convert from one to another without more significant work required.

Wood cannot be burnt in any form of gas fireplace, including built-in gas fireplace installations.

In such situations it can be best to leave the gas fireplace as is and have a separate wood burning fireplace or stove installed elsewhere in the house

However, many gas fireplace installations are often found as gas fireplace inserts put into existing masonry open fireplaces.

Natural Vent Gas Fireplace With Chimney
Our gas fireplace is an insert in an existing masonry fireplace and could be removed to convert it back to wood-burning

As part of a gas fireplace insert installation, a new gas line would have also been installed, alongside any other installation requirements such as capping the damper to ensure it stays open.

In this scenario it can be possible to convert the gas fireplace insert installation back to a wood burning fireplace by removing the gas insert, capping or removing the gas line and have the chimney and fireplace inspected by a professional ready to burn firewood.

We’ve recently removed an existing gas fireplace insert (a professional confirmed it wasn’t connected up to any gas main) to use it as a wood burning fireplace again.

Can You Burn Wood In A Gas Starter Fireplace?

As gas starter fireplaces are designed to burn wood but simply use gas to help start the fire, it can be considered fine to burn wood in a gas starter fireplace. Once a wood fire has got going a gas starter can be turned off and gas therefore isn’t the primary source of fuel for a gas starter fireplace.

Gas starter fireplaces differ from gas fireplaces because in a gas starter fireplace the gas is only used to help start a wood burning fire.

A small tube, typically located at the base of an open fireplace towards the back of the firebox, can be lit manually or using a button (depending on the setup) and small holes in the tube where gas escapes provide the flames required to help start a wood burning fire more efficiently.

Once a wood burning fire has got going using a gas starter, the gas can be turned off and the primary source of fuel for the fire becomes firewood.

It can therefore be fine to burn wood in a gas starter fireplace.

Speak to local professional for advice before using a gas starter fireplace for the first time to ensure that you’re using it correctly and safely and to ensure it’s not mistaken for a gas fireplace.

Also have the chimney inspected and swept if it hasn’t been done within the last year before using a gas starter fireplace.

How Do I Know If My Gas Fireplace Can Burn Wood?

A fireplace will need to be inspected by a professional to confirm whether it is a gas fireplace or a gas starter fireplace. Wood cannot be burnt in a gas fireplace but can be burnt in a gas starter fireplace.

Further Reading

Do Gas Fireplaces Have A Flue?

Do Gas Fireplaces Need Electricity?

Do Gas Fireplaces Need A Chimney?

Do Gas Fireplaces Need To Be Vented?

How Much Gas Does A Gas Fireplace Use?

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