With the rising price of gas and electricity and with more of us becoming aware of the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels to heat our homes, many homeowners are turning to alternative fuel sources.
The clever people at Straw Fuels LLP have recently introduced a new fuel made entirely from a readily available by-product of farming – straw – and they have kindly sent me some to review.
100% sustainable, ‘Straws’, as the compressed straw logs are known, are produced in Warwickshire from straw supplied by local farmers. They offer a 12 month Co2 cycle which basically means that the Co2 released by burning the straw is re-absorbed by the next year’s growing crop, unlike wood which would require the growth cycle of the tree, which would be a minimum of 10 years but could be significantly more depending on the species.
With obvious environmental credentials how do these straw logs perform compared to more traditional timber logs?
We tested the ‘straws’ in our open fire where we usually burn a combination of coal and wood off cuts, but they can also be used in wood burning stoves, fire pits or chimineas. ‘Straws’ are individually wrapped in waxed, brown paper, which not only keeps them dry but also very clean to handle.
Straw Fuels sell their logs via the internet and they arrive via a courier according to the size of your order. Shrink-wrapped in plastic the outer packaging protected our small delivery from the elements and was probably the least environmentally-friendly part of the product. (Straw Fuels have since informed me that shrink-wrapping is only used when Straws are transported through couriers, when bought from a retailer no wrapping is required).
Set on lighted sticks or kindling, the paper wrapped logs are very easy to light and can be used in the same way as traditional timber log, however we found that the straws burned best on a bed of dust/ash and gave good heat for 2-3 hours depending on how much fire was damped down. Another great benefit is that ‘straws’ don’t spark or spit as they burn and leave very little ash residue to clear up next day!
Although the straw logs have significantly more eco-credentials than more traditional fossil fuels, we felt they were slightly over packaged in their waxed brown paper covers* – almost too good to burn!
Taking everything into account, if you are looking for a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable way to heat your home, straws are definitely worth considering. With the future of our power supply under ever–increasing threat, sourcing alternative fuel solutions is always worth looking in to.
Straws are available at www.strawfuels.com
Prices start at £7.50 for a pack of 6, which includes VAT and delivery, more expensive maybe than timber logs, but with discounts of up to 40% available for larger quantities ‘Straws’ then become a more viable alternative to their less sustainable rivals.
So this year when the sun is shining and you’re gazing out over fields of wheat watching the combine harvesters reap their golden crop, why not consider heating your home with this eco by-product next winter?
*Straw Fuels are currently looking at using recycled paper