Fire Logs

Saturday, 25 November 2006 | Tags: , , ,

Starting and maintaining a fire in the traditional way isn't always easy. That's where fire logs come in. We tested artificial fire logs to see how they compare to the real thing, and to find out if one works better than others.

The Basics

  • Artificial logs burn with less smoke, lower particulates, and lower carbon monoxide emissions than regular wood.

  • Most artificial logs burn between 2 and 4 hours.

  • Some fire logs require you to cut a slit along one side of the package before lighting. Others only require on you to light the paper at either end.

Other Considerations

  • Java fire logs (made from coffee grounds) claim to be even lower in emissions, and have a toasty scent. They are more expensive than regular fire logs.

  • Some fire logs claim to mimic the crackling sound of regular wood, but may cost extra. The sound is often too faint to notice.

  • Chimney-cleaning fire logs contain chemicals meant to clean your chimney while they burn. They usually cost a lot more than regular fire logs and you’ll still need to have your chimney professionally cleaned periodically.


Be Aware

  • Wood stoves should only burn fire logs made from sawdust. Other logs, made with wax, burn hotter and can produce a blaze too hot for some stoves, which is a fire hazard.

  • A longer chimney creates a larger draft, causing the log to burn faster.


We tested these logs for lighting ability, how long they lasted, and how well they burned:

  • Grocery Store Log (wood & wax, 3-hour log): $2.99
  • Pine Mountain’s Crackling Log (wood & wax): $3.99
  • Duraflame’s Crackle Flame Log (wood & wax): $3.99
  • Java Log (coffee grounds): $3.49
  • Home Fire Prest Logs (100% wood sawdust): $3.56 (four logs intended to be burned in a stack)

Lighting Test

  • The Java log was easy to light and stayed lit.

  • Home Fire Prest Logs were difficult to light and required attention at first to keep them lit.

  • Pine Mountain was easiest to light.

  • The generic store brand was also easy to light.

Flame Test

  • The Java log had no detectable scent as claimed.

  • The Pine Mountain log has the biggest, fullest flames

  • The generic store brand had a good flame

Average Burn Time Test

  • Pine Mountain: 3 hours
  • Java Log: 2.5 hours
  • Home Prest: 10 hours (based on 4 logs in a wood stove)


You can’t beat the real thing, but for everyday convenience, the Pine Mountain log was the top pick of 80% of our testers.


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