Fire Logs

Firelogs (Explained & Tested)

In Outdoor Fireplaces, Wood Burning Fireplaces, Wood Burning Stoves by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

Firelogs can be used as an alternative to burning traditional firewood and provide some additional benefits over firewood such as ease of use.

Firelogs are manufactured products and can be bought to be used as a substitute for firewood logs and kindling.

While we only typically burn firewood, we have used firelogs on a number of occasions where we didn’t want the hassle of maintaining a fire for a few hours.

Fire Logs
Examples of firelogs that we have used

In this article we discuss everything you would need to know about firelogs such as what they are, what they’re made of, how they work and how to use them.

We also test firelogs to see how long you can expect them to burn for and how much heat they could typically put out.

What Are Firelogs?

Firelogs are designed to replicate traditional wood fuel and can be used instead of firewood in an open fireplace, wood stove and chimeneas, but firelogs are manufactured products rather than natural forms of firewood such as seasoned or kiln dried logs.

A firelog, or fire log, is typically found in the form of a block located inside paper packaging.

We discuss what this block of material consists of in the next section but expect it to resemble the size of a typical firewood log.

This allows them to be used inside an open fireplace or wood burning stove as an alternative to traditional firewood logs.

Fire Log
Firelogs come in combustible packaging that is typically lit at the ends

Firelogs are also flammable, allowing for ease of lighting and for them to burn well. This includes both the firelog and the packaging itself.

To allow a firelog to catch fire, they’re typically lit by lighting the paper packaging, which burns through allowing the firelog itself to catch fire.

What Are Firelogs Made Of?

Firelogs are typically made up of sawdust and waxes. The majority of a firelog will be made of sawdust compressed into a log shape. The wax used in firelogs could be petroleum but is nowadays more likely to be more environmentally friendly products such as vegetable waxes.

One of the main contents of firelogs will typically be sawdust produced from industrial processes. To recycle this sawdust, one of the options can be turning that sawdust into a firelog.

The sawdust is produced as a log shape for use as a firelog so that it can be used in appliances such as open fireplaces or wood burning stoves.

The other main component within firelogs can be wax, with the wax typically consisting of natural products such as plant or vegetable wax.

For example, the back of the packaging for the firelogs that we buy state that the firelogs simply contain ‘wax and sawdust’.

While you’re not supposed to remove the packaging on a firelog, we’ve done so on one of our firelogs to show what they can look like inside the packaging.

Fire Log Inside
How a firelog can look like inside the packaging
Fire Log Inside

Depending on the manufacturer, you may also be able to find firelogs made entirely of sawdust, compressed into a log shape.

Coffee logs can also be considered a type of firelog.

Coffee logs are made from recycled coffee logs and work much like firelogs. See our dedicated guide to coffee logs for more information.

What Are Firelogs Used For?

Firelogs are to be used as wood fuel for wood burning apparatus such as open fireplaces and wood burning stoves to generate flames and heat. One firelog should be used on a fire at any one time and can be used instead of traditional firewood logs and kindling.

Firelogs are an alternative means to providing a fire in a wood burning stove or open fireplace where traditional firewood logs and kindling would otherwise be used.

A firelog can be used instead of firewood logs but shouldn’t be used with them in a fire.

Firelog manufacturers typically state that a firelog should not be added to an already lit fire or burn more than one at a time.

A firelog can be used instead of other firewood to have a fire in a wood burning stove or open fireplace. The firelog acts as the fuel for the fire and all that’s required is to light the paper packing surrounding the firelog located inside to start the fire.

Fire Log Burning
One of our firelogs burning

A firelog will provide the fuel for a fire and will typically last a couple of a hours.

Do Firelogs Give Off Heat?

Firelogs give off heat thanks to using a real fire to burn through the combustible materials that make up a firelog. The paper packaging on a firelog can be lit to start the fire and a firelog will generate heat for the room through the duration of the fire.

Firelogs can put out a good amount of heat, as shown by the stove thermometer on our wood stove when we burn a firelog.

Stove Thermometer
The typically temperatures our wood stove can get up to when burning a firelog

Through testing and general use of firelogs in our wood burning stove, our stove can get up to temperatures comparable to what can be reached using traditional firewood.

As with burning any firewood, heat will be a by-product of a burning firelog.

Firelogs can typically put out a good amount of heat because they:

  • Can be very low in moisture content.
  • Are manufactured (rather than being natural firewood) and so are designed to be highly flammable, easy to burn and burn efficiently with good heat output.

Firelogs Burn Time

Firelogs are designed to burn for approximately 2 to 3 hours. The actual burn time can depend on the manufacturer and the burn time stated on the packaging for a firelog, along with other factors such as the size of log and airflow.

The average size and type of firelog is designed to burn for approximately two to three hours.

Smaller sized firelogs may burn for less time and larger sized ones for longer. Higher quality firelogs from more reputable manufacturers may also last for a longer period of time.

However, as firelogs are designed to fit inside a typical open fireplace or wood burning stove they are generally a similar size. Firelogs from two different manufacturers are shown below for comparison.

Fire Logs

The expected burn time for a firelog will typically be stated on the packaging.

Fire Log
This firelog (smaller in size) is stated to burn for up to 2 hours
Fire Log
This firelog (slightly larger in size) is stated to burn for between 2 to 3 hours

In real world testing we find that the firelogs that we burn do last within the stated timeframe.

For example, this firelog with a stated burn time of 2 to 3 hours lasts on average 2 and a half hours.

One major factor that can affect the burn time of our firelogs in our wood burning stove is the airflow. The firelogs will last a bit longer if we close down the air vent on our wood stove to the nominal opening, rather that opening the vent wide up.

However, we find that too little airflow and the glass front on our stove starts to blacken.

Fire Log Burning
One of our firelogs smoldering with blackening of the glass occurring

When purchasing and using a firelog on your fires be sure to check the expected burn time for an indication on how long the firelog should burn for.

Are Firelogs Better Than Wood?

Both firelogs and wood logs have their pros and cons but the advantages of firelogs over wood are that they can be easier to light, burn more efficiently and effectively, burn for longer and leave less mess. However, firelogs can typically be more expensive to buy.

Firelogs can be better than using traditional firewood logs and kindling for your fires, depending on your needs.

Firelogs can be easier to get going thanks to the combustible packaging, and sawdust and wax materials that make up the firelog itself. Firelogs can also burn for longer and leave less mess behind after the fire.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a quick and easy fire with minimal effort and upkeep requirements for the duration of the fire, it can be worthwhile trying out a firelog.

However, using firelogs isn’t the most cost-effective means of having a fire and in the long-term using firelogs over firewood can become much more expensive.

For example, our local stores are selling the firelog shown below for around £4 ($5), and with each firelog lasting a couple of hours, consistent use of firelogs can become an expensive means of having a fire, especially if you’re buying firewood in bulk like we do.

Fire Log In Wood Stove
Firelogs can be relatively expensive to use compared to traditional firewood logs

Other downsides to using firelogs over firewood is that firelogs can typically only be used one at a time and typically can’t be used alongside other firewood in a fire.

Fire Log Safety
An example of safety notes on a firelog, explaining that only one firelog can be burnt at a time

From our experience we find firelogs can sometimes actually be harder to light and maintain a fire compared to firewood logs and kindling. Even with the air vent wide open, we find that some firelogs we buy can often struggle and smolder, leading to blackening of the glass and poor heat output.

Fire Log Burning
A firelog struggling and smoldering in our wood stove

Are Firelogs Suitable For Wood Stoves?

Only firelogs suitable for use in wood burning stoves can be used in a wood stove. Many firelogs can typically be used in wood stoves but always check the packaging on a firelog to confirm.

Firelogs are often suitable for use in wood burning stoves but always check the packaging on the firelog to confirm this can be possible.

For example, the packaging on some of the firelogs that we have shown that it’s suitable.

Fire Log Packaging
The fire logs we use are suitable for wood stoves

How To Use Firelogs

Firelogs should be lit in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Firelogs can typically be lit by lighting both ends of the packaging where indicated, by using a fire starter such as a lighter or long match.

As an example, the image below shows where we need to light our firelogs as shown on the packaging.

Fire Log
Arrows showing where to light our firelog

To use a firelog:

  • Read the usage instructions outlined on the packaging.
  • Do not remove the packaging.
  • Place the firelog in the fireplace or stove.
  • Light the firelog packaging as directed by the markers on the packaging using a fire starter such as lighter or long matches.
  • Leave the firelog packaging to burn and allow the firelog itself to catch fire.

The directions for use for a particular firelog will be outlined on the packaging, with examples shown below.

Fire Log Packaging
An example of how to use a firelog

A fire can be started using a firelog with relative ease. Directions for use typically state to place the firelog within fireplace or stove, light the packaging at the areas shown and leave it to burn.

Before lighting a fire do not remove the paper packaging, as this is used as the firelighter to help the firelog to catch fire.

For our firelogs, we place them at the bottom of our wood burning stove facing upright.

Fire Log In Wood Stove
A firelog placed in our wood stove ready to be lit

We then use long matches or a lighter to light the corners of firelog packaging at the ends (long matches or long lighters help with reach).

Lighting Fire Log
After lighting the ends, the fire spreads across the firelog

Leaving the door open slightly helps with airflow while the packaging burns through and the firelog catches fire. We then close the door after a few minutes, leaving the stove air vent wide open. We can then use the air vent to control the fire throughout the duration of the firelog fire as we need.

Fire Log Burning
A firelog burning after the packaging has burnt through

The firelog will burn through until all the fuel has been combusted.

Using Firelogs In Wood Stoves

Use firelogs in wood burning stoves as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

For our wood stove, we use firelogs as we’ve outlined above.

Using Firelogs In Open Fireplaces

When using firelogs in an open fireplace, use the firelog as per the manufacturer’s instructions, which will typically state to use the firelog in a suitable grate or on the hearth of a fireplace and burn alone without any other firewood or another firelog.

Using Firelogs In A Gas Fireplace

Fire logs cannot be used in a gas fireplace.

See our article on why you can’t burn wood in a gas a fireplace for more information.

Pros & Cons Of Firelogs

The main advantages of firelogs are that they can be fast lighting, easy to burn, smokeless and odorless, and require no firelighters or kindling to aid in lighting. However, firelogs can be an expensive fuel compared to firewood logs.

Firelogs are a great type of wood fuel for any fireplace or stove where you’re looking for minimal input required into lighting and managing a fire for a few hours.

The pros of firelogs include:

  • Ease of lighting, with no firelighters or kindling required.
  • Easy to burn, with minimal to no assistance typically required throughout the fire.
  • Smokeless burning, thanks to being manufactured and low in moisture content, with great combustion properties.
  • Odorless. Many firelog manufactures state that their firelogs don’t give off any bad smells.
  • Minimal mess. As firelogs combust so well, they can leave little amounts of ash behind.
Fire Log Packaging
Examples of the advantages of firelogs

Firelogs can still have their downsides, however, and the cons of firelogs include:

  • Can typically be more expensive to burn compared to firewood logs, especially when firewood is bought in bulk.
  • Can’t typically be burnt with other fuel such as firewood.
  • Many not be able to burn more than one firelog at a time, in line with manufacturer guidelines.
Fire Log Safety
Examples of safety precautions when using firelogs

Firelogs vs Firewood

A firelog can be easier to light, burn more effectively, last for longer and leave less mess compared to a firewood log. However, firewood logs can be easier to source and be much less expensive to burn compared to firelogs.

We primarily burn seasoned or kiln dried hardwood firewood logs, stored outside in our log store.

Log Store
We find burning firewood logs to be a better experience compared to using firelogs

We buy our logs in bulk, with one or two bags being delivered every year and will last us most of winter.

To start our log firewood, we use a fire starter such as newspaper or wood wool (see our main guide on wood wool here), kindling (small bits of wood) and small logs, and add progressively larger logs as the fire bed of hot embers grows over time.

This process of setting up a firewood fire can require a certain amount of managing. Factors such as poor draft, wet or cold firewood or putting large logs on the fire too early can lead to the fire going out.

Wood Stove Fire
Burning traditional firewood logs can often require more management and care during a fire compared to firelogs, for example the smoldering log shown here

If you’re looking for an easier to manage fire where you can just ‘light and leave’ it, then firelogs can offer a better user experience.

We buy a couple of firelogs at a time and don’t use them too often and as they can be expensive to buy. When we’re too busy to manage the fire or just don’t want the hassle, we’ll light a firelog and enjoy a fire for a few hours without any of our input required.

Fire Log Burning
A firelog burning well in our wood stove

Are Firelogs Toxic?

Firelogs are typically only made from a handful of different natural materials such as sawdust, waxes and oils, and so firelogs are typically not toxic to burn. However, always check the packaging for safety information and materials used.

Do Firelogs Create Creosote?

Firelogs are typically less likely to lead to creosote deposit buildup within a chimney or flue compared to burning firewood logs, as firelogs are manufactured and can be very low in moisture content.

Burning high moisture content firewood can be one of the main causes behind increased creosote production, which is why it’s always advised to burn low moisture content firewood of 20% or less.

Firelogs are manufactured products and don’t need to be ‘seasoned’ or ‘kiln-dried’ like traditional firewood.

Firelogs can therefore be very low in moisture content and typically lead to lower creosote production when burnt. For example, Duraflame state that testing has shown that their firelogs accumulates 66% creosote per hour compared to a traditional wood fire.

Do Firelogs Expire?

Firelogs typically do not have an expiration date.

For example, there is never any ‘use by date’ on any firelog that we buy.

Firelogs should be stored in line with the guidelines to ensure that they burn as designed when used. For example, our firelog packaging states to ‘keep in a cool, dry place away from all sources of ignition’.

Fire Log Safety
To help prolong the longevity of firelogs, look to store in a cool and dry place

Firelogs To Clean Chimney

Chimney sweeping logs are available on the market and can be purchased for use with stoves and/or chimneys. Stove and chimney sweeping logs can help to remove soot deposits within a chimney or flue.

An example of the stove and chimney sweeping logs we have tried is shown below.

Chimney & Stove Sweeping Log
An example of a chimney sweeping log

Chimney sweeping logs work much like general firelogs in that they come in paper packaging which you can light to start the fire. A picture of what our own chimney sweeping log looks like is shown below.

Chimney & Stove Sweeping Log
A chimney sweeping log and its packaging, out of the box
Chimney & Stove Sweeping Log
How a chimney sweeping log can look inside
Chimney & Stove Sweeping Log

We haven’t found chimney sweeping logs to be too effective in the past and we don’t rely on using them. Instead, we have our chimney/flues professionally swept at the least once per year. We only burn low moisture content seasoned or kiln dried firewood, which helps to keep creosote production and soot deposits to a minimum.

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