Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Wood Burning Logs and Seasoned Hardwood Logs – Big K’s Guide to the History of Fireplaces

Wood Burning Logs and Seasoned Hardwood Logs – Big K’s Guide to the History of Fireplaces

If you want to take full advantage of your fireplace in the winter months, for ultimate in convenience, Big K deliver a variety of winter fuel products such as seasoned hardwood logs and wood burning logs, straight to your door.

The fireplace has evolved a long way since early humans used to gather round a fire pit to keep warm, ward off predators and cook food. Nowadays, fireplaces are no longer a living essential but they add atmosphere and beauty to your home and there are many stylish contemporary fireplaces available.

Not only have fireplaces changed, but winter fuel products have evolved greatly too. There are a good range of winter fuels on the market that are efficient, easy to light, easy to store and provide instant warmth.

If you are looking to make the most of your fireplace this winter, we supply a wide selection of winter fuel products, including wood burning logs and seasoned hardwood logs, which we will describe in more detail below.

Meanwhile, if you are thinking of stocking up on seasoned hardwood logs and wood burning logs, here is Big K’s brief guide on the history of fireplaces.

Seasoned Hardwood Logs - click here to view our range of products

A Brief Guide to the History of Fireplaces

In ancient times open fire pits were a vital part of living and, as well as being used out in the open air, they were used in all types of living quarters in every part the globe, from caves to mud huts.

Gradually chimneys were introduced for safety reasons: to prevent the inhalation of toxic smoke filling the enclosed spaces. There is no way of knowing exactly when the chimney was introduced, but it would have evolved in various ways across the globe; teepees used by Nomadic tribes in North America, for example, were constructed with an opening at the top to let the air through.

12th Century

In Europe, some of the grander dwellings had a great hall which was warmed from an open hearth. From the later part of the 12th century onwards, chimneys began to be introduced for the first time although these were mainly used in the kitchens of some of the more prestigious properties.

16th Century

As a second floor was introduced in the home, people needed fireplaces to warm the various rooms: such as nurseries, bedrooms and servants quarters. For the first time moves were made to study the design of chimneys so fireplaces could be used upstairs.

17th Century

Fireplaces had become an important feature of the home and many houses were built around a central chimney stack which often served as the main structural support for the house. Thanks to Christopher Wren, who re-designed St Pauls Cathedral, fireplaces began to be designed to be in keeping with a property.

By the late 17th century, Rupert of the Rhine, a nephew of Charles I made fireplaces more efficient by lifting the grate, which improved air flow and ventilation and helped produce more heat.

18th Century

More improvements were made to improve the efficiency of fireplaces and to draw smoke out of the building. American Benjamin Franklin introduced the Franklin stove that spread heat more evenly throughout the room.

Other inventions included US born Benjamin Thompson’s introduction of tall, shallow fireboxes which allowed smoke to escape more easily – a design which became the foundation of all modern fireplaces.

19th Century

In the Victorian era, fireplaces became more than just a way of heating the home as they also provided ambiance – giving rise to romantic images of Victorian families gathering round the fireplace at Christmas time.

The design of the fireplace changed too as the Victorian era saw the introduction of surrounds made of wood, marble, granite or stone, and inserts made out of cast iron with decorative tiles. Smaller grates were also used during the Victorian period and these made fireplaces more efficient.

20th Century

The introduction of central heating and gas fires in the early to middle 20th century meant fireplaces were no longer a living essential and many fireplace were either ripped out or covered up as being unnecessary or old fashioned – often to be reinstated in the end of the century when the fashion for period property renovation took off. Where they were retained or reinstated, this was often to provide ambience or to provide an impressive focal point for a room. The fireplace became an architectural feature of the home and many new and innovative designs emerged in the 20th century.

This century saw the introduction of the Clean Air Act to control smoke emissions in certain parts of the UK. It meant that for some householders, smokeless fuel was the only option to use on open fireplaces and stoves.

Whatever type of fireplace you have, Big K provide a range of winter fuel solutions including smokeless coal, wood burning logs and seasoned hardwood logs to suit fireplaces and wood burning stoves in smoke free and non smoke free zones.

Wood Burning Logs and Seasoned Hardwood Logs

If you are stocking up on wood burning logs and seasoned hardwood logs this winter, these products can only be burned in smoke free zones in an appliance approved for burning logs in smoke free zones.

However, there are a wide range of winter fuel products available and the selection of wood burning logs and seasoned hardwood logs sold by Big K include: Premium Kiln Dry Hardwood Logs (FSC certified), Seasoned Hardwood Logs (FSC certified), Instant Firelighting Firelog (to create instant heat and hassle free fires), Wood Fuel Briquettes, Big Flame Heat Logs (FSC certified) and Starter Packs for open fires and wood burning stoves.

Wood Burning Logs - click here to view our range of products.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Smokeless Coal - A Guide to Heating Your Home in the Traditional Way

Smokeless Coal - A Guide to Heating Your Home in the Traditional Way

Nothing beats the beauty and atmosphere of an open fire. It is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to heat your living room and with smokeless coal you can enjoy all the benefits of a home fire without any toxic smoke emissions. If you live in a smoke free zone, you won’t be able to burn coal on an open fire, so you will need to look for fuel alternatives. Smokeless coal is a perfect solution for smoke free areas and is available either in natural form – such as anthracite coal – or as a manufactured product.

Smoke free coal is a great alternative to heating your home as it is extremely efficient with a high heat output. This type of coal also leaves less residue at the bottom of your grate - so it is cleaner than other fuel choices.

Smokeless Coal – click here to view our range of products.

Heating Your Home in the Traditional Way – What Are the Options?

If warming your living room with a real fire appeals to you, there are several different options available. Here we shall look at various traditional ways to heat your home and the benefits of each.

Open Fire

An open fire conjures up all sorts of romantic images; you can picture the whole family gathering around a crackling log fire in winter and talking about their day. It also brings to mind relaxing thoughts of sharing a bottle of wine with your partner on a cosy rug infront of the fire.

Whether you have a country cottage, or a minimalist contemporary home with all the latest technology, you will find an open fire to fit perfectly with your interior. From fireplaces with marble surrounds, to fireplaces with wooden or tiled surrounds, and sleek metal designer solid fuel fires, you will always find a style to suit your home. Open fires are a cheap option, provided you have a working chimney. They are also cheaper to install than wood burners and multi-fuel stoves. But they have downsides too - they can't be left unattended for long periods because sparks can jump out of the fire and ignite rugs or furnishings.

Another downside of an open fire is that they are fairly inefficient as they don’t create as much heat as wood burners or stoves. This is for two reasons: the chimney creates draughts and although (when lit) open fires do warm up the room to some extent, much of the heat escapes up the chimney.

Wood Burners

A wood burner refers to any appliance used to burn wood as a way of heating the home. It applies to conventional wood burners and also pot belly stoves - which are stoves made from cast iron and have a big bulge in the middle. Of course, as the name implies, it is only advisable to burn wood in your wood burning stove because other sources of fuel may damage your appliance and void the warranty. The best types of wood to use are: seasoned hardwood logs, heat logs and instant lighting fire logs, and all these are all available through Big K.

Wood burners cost between £200 (for a basic model) to up to about £1000 (for a more advanced model), but add to that the installation cost too and the price will average at around £1,500. The price is considerably higher if you also want to connect the appliance to your central heating system.

The benefits of wood burners, however, is that they give off more warmth in cold winter months as they are almost 90 per cent efficient, so they save money in the long run. This compares with the 25 per cent efficiency of a log fire.

Multi-Fuel Stoves

Multi-fuel stoves are slightly more expensive than wood burners but with that you get greater flexibility and this makes them a popular option for the home.

The main difference between wood burners and multi-fuel stoves is that multi-fuel stoves can burn either wood or smokeless coal. However, it is not recommended to burn both these fuel types at the same time as this can damage the lining of the flue. Ordinary house coal should never be used on a multi-fuel stove because it creates too much heat and this will also damage the appliance.

Stoves are safer than open fires as they can be left unattended without fear of sparks flying and igniting rugs and furniture. Multi-fuel stoves are also considered cleaner than traditional open fires.

You can spot the difference between wood burners and multi-fuel stoves because the grate on a multi-fuel burner consists of movable parts and an ash pan, but the grate on a wood burner can’t be moved.

About Big K

Big K sell a wide range of winter fuel products to burn on open fires, wood burners and multi-fuel stoves including seasoned hardwood logs, smokeless coal, heat logs, anthracite coal and wood fuel briquettes. Our winter fuel products are available for nationwide delivery.

Smokeless Coal – click here to view our range of products.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Fire Surrounds: Give Your Fireplace a New Look for 2013

Fire Surrounds: Give Your Fireplace a New Look for 2013

If you are renovating your home in the coming weeks - and replacing the fire surround - now is a great time to order your seasoned hardwood logs and smokeless coal so you can get ready to light your new fire!

The start of the New Year is a great time to draw your attention to the fireplace as January and February are the chilliest months of the year. And for this reason, it’s also a good time to stock up on your seasoned hardwood logs and smokeless coal.

Home delivery offers the most convenient way to do this, particularly in the winter months. Fortunately Big K offer free nationwide delivery on all winter fuel products including kindling wood, heat logs, anthracite coal, and instant lighting products, seasoned hardwood logs and smokeless coal – so it all comes direct to your door.

Meanwhile, if you are thinking of giving your fireplace a new look this winter, here we take a look at the benefits of fire surrounds, the types you can buy, and give ideas on how to store your seasoned hardwood logs and smokeless coal.

Seasoned Hardwood Logs - click here to view our range of products

Benefits of a New Fire Surround

A fire surround is the decorative part that goes around the fireplace and provides an attractive backdrop. As the fireplace is the focal point of in room, the type of fire surround you have makes a big difference on how your interior will look. Replacing a retro or outdated fire surround with an original period fireplace, or a contemporary version, could be just what you need to give your interior a lift.

Whatever your reasons for buying a new fire surround, an attractive, functional fireplace turns a house into a home and instantly makes an interior cosy and welcoming. A fireplace brings the family together too, as everyone loves to gather around a crackling log fire during the coldest months of the year.

But fire surrounds don’t just serve a decorative purpose – they are also an important safety feature. They provide additional fire protection as they prevent sparks escaping and infiltrating the wall around the fireplace and they also provide extra fireproof insulation around the fireplace.

Types of Fireplace Surrounds

While new homes often lack a built-in fireplace, the same can’t be said for older style or period properties – but there are many reasons why you may want to change your existing fireplace surround.

Certainly, some homeowners are lucky enough to uncover a boarded up original fireplace during their home renovations. However, it may be that your property had its original fireplace ripped out in the 1960’s and replaced with a newer, less attractive fireplace surround which you want to update.

There are a wide range of fireplace surrounds available on the market and these range from contemporary fire surrounds to tiled surrounds, reclaimed surrounds, period fireplace surrounds, wooden fire surrounds, stone, stone-effect, brick-built, granite, marble and limestone fire surrounds.

Even if you don’t have a fireplace in your home, you can have one installed and there are various companies that do this. It may be that you have a new build and want a fireplace put in, or want a new fireplace in an extension, or you may like a chimney built in your existing property. If this is the case, instead of a ready-made design, you may want a fire surround individually made and there are many companies that will design and make bespoke fire surrounds to your exact specifications.

From sleek and modern designs, to more intricate and elaborate fireplace surrounds, you will always find something to suit your interior. And there are some great bargains to be had at this time of year!


If you are buying seasoned hardwood logs, you will want to somewhere to store these. Log stores range from log baskets, log bins, sheds or lean to’s, right through to purpose built log storage. You can buy log stores from a variety of places online or at your local garden centre. You can even make a feature of your firewood and store it in an attractive metal basket to hang on the wall for a rustic look.

As smokeless coal is available in pre-packed 10kg or 20kg durable bags these are easy to store and can be stacked on top of each other. It can be stored in a place of your choosing, or you can also buy plastic or galvanised coal bunkers as a neat and stylish way to keep your coal.

Wherever you plan to store your winter fuel products, Big K sell a wide selection of seasoned hardwood logs and smokeless coal for you to stock up on this winter - so it won’t be long before you can make use of your brand new fireplace.

Smokeless Coal - click here to view our range of products