Java-Logs, made from compressed coffee grounds(photo courtesy of www.thegreenhead.com)
In Charlotte, temperatures will dip to 8 degrees tonight. That's very cold by my standards. This is the South! Just a couple of weeks ago, it was 65! When it gets really cold here, folks want to toss a log on the fireplace. Sure is easy to buy a couple of manufactured logs at the grocery....
But what's the deal with those composite logs that come wrapped in paper? Are they okay, or are they full of toxic chemicals?
Actually, artificial fire logs are a pretty good thing, environmentally. They burn much cleaner than real firewood. Typically, they produce 70% less particulate matter, 85% less carbon monoxide, and 50% less smoke than real wood.
In the past, fake logs were usually made from sawdust and petroleum wax. The wax produced most of the heat - the sawdust served the same purpose as a wick in a candle. But now, fake fire logs are likely to be made from natural vegetable waxes instead of petroleum wax. Vegetable waxes are extracted from plants that were recently alive and so were removing CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis - as all living plants do. That compensates for any CO2 released during their burning, and makes them greenhouse-gas-neutral or "carbon neutral." So, in other words, burning fake logs made from vegetable waxes has no overall impact on climate change.
There's another new type of firelog, the Java-Log, made from recycled coffee grounds. These logs smell like coffee, produce 25% more heat than firelogs made with sawdust, and produce more brilliant flames.
One more benefit of fake logs over real logs - most fake fire logs produce less creosote to accumulate in the chimney than real logs do.
But some fake fire logs are simply 100% compressed sawdust. They have the same effect on the atmosphere and the chimney as a real log.
So if you have a choice, choose the fake logs made from vegetable waxes and sawdust, or the Java-Logs. They burn the cleanest and have minimal impact on our air and our climate.