Air Quality and Good Wood

This page explains how air quality and wood quality are related, and lists tips for ensuring your woodburner is used efficiently.

Why is Air Quality Important?

Tasman communities can have poor air quality in winter and this pollution is measured as excessive amounts of small particles (PM10).  The major cause of this poor air quality is emissions from domestic open fires and enclosed burners. The way people manage their wood supplies and what they burn plays a significant part in determining how much of these particles are produced.

Wood Quality: The Good Wood Scheme

The Tasman District and Nelson City Councils promote reducing air pollution through the Good Wood Supplier scheme.  It is a joint project between the Councils and wood suppliers, who undertake to supply firewood according to best practice and contribute to improving air quality in Nelson and Richmond.

Tips for Heating Efficiency 

Clean your flue

This helps your fire burn more efficiently. Make sure the flue is insulated, is high enough to let smoke and gases disperse and does not have a 'hat'.


Check your home insulation to keep the warmth in!

Make sure your Firewood is Dry

Green wood will not burn efficiently, leaving you with a cold house and smoky fire! Striking two pieces of wood together is a good way to check if it is dry enough. Dry wood will give a resonant crack and wet wood will make a dull thud.

Storing Firewood

Store wood in a dry place and stack it loosely off the ground in a criss-cross pattern to let dry air circulate around it.

Burn it Hot

Use kindling to start your fire and don't add big pieces of wood until there is a good bed of embers. Light your fire correctly so it is burning hot with a good airflow. Using logs that are too big will reduce airflow and increase smoke so make sure they're the right size to keep the fire burning bright. After starting the fire leave the air controls open for at least 30 minutes. This helps build up a good high temperature which makes the wood burn well. Do this again when you add more wood.


Don't bank down your fire overnight. Tests have shown it does not add to the warmth of your home but greatly increases polluting emissions releasing higher levels of organic compounds.

Replacing Your Woodburner?

If your current burner is over 10 years old it may need replacing - modern burners are more efficient. Cleaner forms of heating include heat pumps, flued gas or pellet fires.

  • Change your open fire to a solid fuel burner, electric heat pump or natural gas.
  • When installing a new burner, make sure it is a low pollution emitting appliance that meets New Zealand Standards
  • If you're thinking of buying a second hand burner, be aware that all second hand burners need to be tested to make sure they meet New Zealand Standards, and this can by costly. The standards must be met to get a resource consent to install it

What Not to Burn

To use your existing solid fuel burner in the most efficient and environmentally friendly way, do not burn any of the following:

  • plastic;
  • electrical cable;
  • treated timber and fibreboard;
  • rubber products;
  • waste oil;
  • asbestos products;
  • or radioactive materials.

Take these items to a Resource Recovery Centre to be disposed of safely either by recycling or safe landfilling.

Burning of such items is prohibited under the following rules: