Value for money
Hot Logs €5.25
When we heard kiln-dried logs cost more than air-dried ones we were most unimpressed, as we did not think the manner in which a product was dried would make a blind bit of difference. Well, we were completely wrong. Kiln-dried is the way to go as the logs will burn a whole lot better so you won’t waste time poking at dying embers or drying out sodden wood on your hearth. The logs come from sustainable, locally-sourced hardwood forests and smell pleasant while burning. They burn slowly and evenly. However, we’d question the amount of heat they give off.
Bord na Móna briquettes €4.75
While these are not the cheapest option out there, they are a hassle-free way of keeping the home fires burning. They also have an added advantage in that not only are they sourced locally, they are also easy to source in your locality, and carry home on foot. They do burn very quickly and you’ll do well to get two nights from a single bale. In our burn tests they gave off a surprising amount of heat, which is exactly what you want of a cold winter’s evening.
Black Diamond smokeless coal €12 for 20kg
There’s a lot of (thankfully smokeless) coal out there but Black Diamond is probably the biggest seller across the State. It is fairly easy to light and burns pretty slowly, giving out lots of steady heat as its does. It is by some margin the dirtiest way to keep a fire and lugging bags of it to a car is not much fun. A 20kg bag costs at least a tenner – depending on where you buy it – and won’t last more than three days, which makes it a whole lot more expensive than coal bought in much larger volumes.
Verdict: The old reliable
There are a lot of eco-friendly fuel options on the market but we were drawn to these compressed straw logs for a number of reasons. They are new but look like old- school logs, the ash can be used as fertiliser and they are made by a small Irish company. They are not, however, without their faults. It is very difficult to start a fire with one, so you will need kindling, and the Strogs expand alarmingly when set alight, so unless you’re prepared you can overfill to an alarming extent. They are pricey, too.
Verdict:A new deal