We occasionally publish “classic” articles that we feel are still relevant to readers. This article is from the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of the Green News

As the weather turns chilly, there’s nothing better than lighting a cozy wood fire in your fireplace or wood store—unless it’s lighting a cozy log made from recycled materials.

Duraflame has been touting a new “all-natural firelog” made from recycled materials that they claim produces just a quarter of the air pollutants that come from burning natural wood. In other words, their manufactured logs are better for the environment than real wood.

Helen Suh MacIntosh, an environmental health professor at Harvard University, reviewed Duraflame’s information for TreeHugger.com and agreed that manufactured logs are more environmentally friendly than cut firewood for several reasons.

They use recycled sawdust and renewable plant-based waxes in their manufacturing, which means that fewer trees need to be felled. Furthermore, tests show that logs from Duraflame and its competitor Java Logs, release fewer harmful emissions — particulates, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, dioxin and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — than cut wood.

So manufactured logs are better for the air quality in your home, and in your neighborhood, than real wood. Local environmental agencies around the country have been recommending people choose “logs” rather than logs for their fireplaces.

If you do like to burn real wood, there are steps you can take to take to reduce harmful emissions:

• Burn only clean wood that has been split and dried (“seasoned”) for at least six months.

• Burn denser hardwoods rather than softwoods.

• Make smaller, hotter fires, rather than large, smoldering fires.

• Keep your stove or fireplace clean of ashes and make sure the chimney is cleaned and inspected annually.