Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Who Says Artificial Firelogs Are Bad?

I don't know where this idea got started, but there's a rumor goin' round that artificial firelogs are bad for your fireplace.  This is a myth.  Artificial firelogs are not bad for your fireplace; in fact, they're cleaner, safer, easier, and cheaper than regular wood.  Artificial firelogs are also known as fake firelogs, wax firelogs, or artificial wax firelogs.

duraflame logArtificial Firelogs are cleaner.  In a study conducted by Environment Canada and the EPA, it was concluded that artificial firelogs actually produce far less carbon monoxide and total particulate matter than cordwood.  Click this link to see the results of the study on artificial firelogs.  Go all the way to the end of the study, page 16, to see the comparisons between artificial firelogs and cordwood.

Artificial Firelogs are safer.  I grew up in a home with a large wood burning fireplace, and we used to have some rip-roaring fires in that thing.  We'd stack logs, kindling, and paper until the fireplace was filled, then we'd light the paper and stand back.  We often had to sit several feet away from the fireplace because it was so hot.  For anyone else who grew up in a home with a wood burning fireplace, I'm sure this sounds typical.

When artificial firelogs are used according to their instructions (one at a time, don't break 'em apart), they don't produce a whole lot of heat at one time; surely nowhere near the amount of heat that most wood fires produce.   I don't have any statistics on the number of chimney fires started by properly used artificial firelogs... but I'm pretty sure the number would be close to zero.

Artifical Firelogs are easier.  Just stick it in the fireplace and light the package.  Done and done.  No stacking and storing of wood, no mess, no 'building' a fire... no comparison.

 Artificial Firelogs are cheaper.  Unless you split your own logs and your time is worth nothing, artificial firelogs give you far more flame for your buck.

...yeah but still.  Even though artificial firelogs are cleaner, safer, cheaper, and easier than real wood fires, everyone still prefers wood fires.  Myself included.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

Comment balloon 10 commentsReuben Saltzman • August 23 2011 05:53AM

Comments

I had always understood that because they don't burn so hot they contribute to creosote.  Not so?

They have fireplaces in Canada?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Artificial logs may do ok for your wood burning fireplace, but they are horrible for roasting marshmallows or hot dogs. Around here we burn gas logs in the fireplace, Kingsford in the Weber and real wood on Boy Scout campouts.

Posted by Daniel H. Fisher, MCRP - Charlotte Real Estate, NC or SC (www.FisherHermanRealty.com (704) 617-3544) almost 7 years ago

Rueben,

I think I never heard the myth so I can not comment on that. But I have burned a few of them faux logs in cabins (they were provided) and they at least look like a fire.

I used to be quite a firebug but now I go easy on the log fires if it is just for ambiance.

I stilkl get to do bon fires from time to time to give me the fire bug feeling ; )

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 7 years ago

Reuben, I saw a program showing how they make these artificial logs now.  They use high pressure to compact the logs.  Now I am not sure if there would be an issue with the chemicals added to produce "colour logs"...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) almost 7 years ago

Reuben,

I cut the fireplace logs into quarters and use them as firestarters if I'm having a real fire. They work perfectly. I construct a pyramid of wood over them so there's plenty of air circulation.

And, when I don't want a real fire, I just go with the logs.

Brian

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) almost 7 years ago

Jay - apparently not.  I suppose it's a little like candles; they burn for a long time, but they give off very little soot.  Sure, you can find black soot on ceilings and walls where people have burned candles in houses for many years... but it's nothing compared to the soot that gets given off if you light a fire and forget to open your damper :)

Daniel - no doubt!  I have about the same approach.

Donald - for me, I like the convenience of the fake firelogs for inside the house.  For outdoors... forget it!

Chris - would that have been "How It's Made?"  That show always sucks me in.  I had to stop DVRing it.  I wouldn't be concerned with the chemicals added for color, because the combustion by-products all end up going up the chimney anyways.

Brian - great idea.  They say that using fire starters instead of kindling dramatically cuts down on ash.  I bet cutting up fake firelogs is even cheaper than buying fire starters too.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 7 years ago

Reuben,

I have sawed them into as many as 6 pieces, but I prefer 4. At $1.00 per log, 4 would be 25 cents. And they will burn for about 90 minutes, which is more than enough to get any other fire going.

Brian

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) almost 7 years ago

Even better, I think, are the really fake gas logs!  You get the ambience of a fireplace with the click of a button. Now that's progress!

Posted by Peggy Chirico, REALTOR® 860-748-8900, Hartford & Tolland County Real Estate (Prudential CT Realty) almost 7 years ago

Tell Jay there's one or two fireplaces here but most of us are too cool to use them.:)

But if you want a fire nothing beats the real thing. The artificial logs are just that, artificial. They have a market because they can create an ambiance and they are convenient.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 7 years ago

Brian - yeah, that's a lot cheaper.

Peggy - and if it's a newer gas log unit, you'll actually get a decent amount of heat out of it.

Robert - I definitely agree. 

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 7 years ago

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