A New Look at the World's Oldest Fuel


Using energy from the sun, nature's carbon cycle goes around, from the atmosphere to the forest and back. Here is how it works. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air as they grow. In fact, about half their dry weight is this absorbed carbon. As old trees die and decay, or are consumed in a forest fire, their carbon is again released to the air as carbon dioxide. This is nature's carbon cycle.

When firewood is used as an energy source, part of the natural carbon cycle is brought into our homes to heat them. A fire on the hearth releases the solar energy stored by the tree as it grew. If the entire fuel cycle is considered, a clean burning fireplace will heat your home more efficiently and with lower environmental impact than any other fuel option.

The other fuel options — oil, gas and coal — are fossil fuels, and when they are burned, old carbon that was buried deep within the earth is released to the atmosphere. The rising concentration of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use is linked to global warming, climate change and the unusual weather we've seen in recent years.

A wood fire does not contribute to global warming because no more carbon dioxide is released than the natural forest would release if left untouched. Using wood for heat means less fossil fuels burned, less greenhouse gas emissions, and a healthier environment.



This incredible graphic
and accompanying text
appear here courtesy of ICC/RSF.