The warmth and crackle of a fire on a chilly night adds to a uniquely comfortable environment. Real flames dancing in the hearth might prompt happy memories, but sourcing natural wood might not be possible. In addition, getting the fire started can be a challenge, and natural wood can be heavy and difficult to light.
Fire logs are one good option for those seeking a convenient and easy-to-light option that provides the heat and ambiance of a real fire. Natural wood can be heavy and difficult to store, whereas artificial logs are light, convenient, and present minimal fuss. This guide to the best fire logs can help you determine which artificial option is the best way to add a little heart to your hearth.
- BEST OVERALL: Duraflame 4577 Ultra-Premium Firelogs
- LONGEST LASTING: Pine Mountain Traditional 4-Hour Firelog
- HONORABLE MENTION: Pine Mountain Chimney Cleaning Safety Fire Log
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fire Logs
Artificial fire logs are constructed from materials varying from recycled coffee grounds to sawdust and petroleum waxes. They are easy to light with a single flame, require no preparation, and burn for two to four hours. Not all fire logs are the same. Read up on the following characteristics to learn how to find the best fire logs for your hearth.
Most fire logs burn for two to four hours. Manufacturers of some long-lasting varieties say their logs burn up to six hours. The main difference in burn time is the material from which the fire log is constructed.
The most prominent original ingredient was sawdust mixed with petroleum wax. In the intervening decades, fire log manufacturers also have incorporated coffee grounds, recycled biomass materials, like organic farming waste, and natural oils (in place of petroleum wax). Some brands even include nutshells and seeds to simulate the crackling of a natural wood fire.
Most manufacturers list an approximate burn time on their packaging. Keep in mind that only one fire log should burn at a time. Burning multiple logs will not increase burning time, but it does present potential safety hazards and chimney or flue damage.
One of the primary benefits of fire logs is a quick light time. Traditional fires require the proper build of kindling, paper, wood, and coaxing to burst forth. Fire logs are easy to light; the wrapper serves as the fire log’s accelerant.
Building a fire with fire logs takes as much time as it takes to set the log in the hearth, open the damper, and flick the lighter. The wrapper lights easily and spreads evenly to the compressed material within. The convenience of fire logs over natural wood is in large part due to this characteristic.
The original sawdust and petroleum wax fire logs of the 1960s did not burn very cleanly. Since then, organic farm waste, coffee grounds, and nuts and shells have replaced petroleum products.
Manufacturers develop fire logs to burn slowly and cleanly. In some brands, the ashy byproduct of the burnt logs can be used as garden mulch. Some brands claim emissions reduction of up to 80 percent over natural wood. Fire logs made from coffee grounds have the added benefit of emitting the smell of coffee as they burn. Fire logs emit 50 to 70 percent less carbon monoxide than firewood.
Artificial fire logs provide some heat, but they are not known for their intensity or long periods of warmth. If heating a household is the priority, seek out natural wood. Nearly all varieties of natural wood appropriate for fireplace burning achieve higher, longer-lasting temperatures.
Some brands use compositions that offer more heat than others. Some of the hottest burning fire logs can increase the temperature in a room by an average of 45 degrees. This figure will vary depending on room size and insulation, but keep in mind that significant heat gains do not always last long.
Creosote is a dangerous chemical that can build up in chimneys after prolonged burning. Most regular chimney maintenance revolves around removing creosote and reducing the possibility of a chimney fire. Creosote builds up over time with the burning of natural wood.
Artificial fire logs are cleaner and safer to use in a fireplace than are natural logs. Some fire logs are formulated specifically to reduce the existing creosote buildup in the chimney. Not all fire logs have cleansing properties. Check the packaging before choosing to see if that particular log will aid in cleaning your chimney. But be aware that fire logs developed to clean chimneys are not suitable replacements for regular professional chimney maintenance.
Our Top Picks
There are several options to choose from among in the fire log market. The following fire logs earned a place on this list by outshining the competition at factors like burn time or heat production. Check out these top picks to help you choose the best fire logs for your heating needs and preferences.
Duraflame’s fire logs provide a convenient and fast way to get a crackling fire in the hearth. Made with a high-performance blend of biomass fiber and waxes, these logs have a healthy burning time of up to three hours or more. The logs light faster than firewood and should be fully lit within five minutes.
This pack of 12 logs will provide up to 36 hours of total burn time and produces big, bright flames.
Pine Mountain’s fire logs generate bold flames that burn for up to four hours—longer than most. Each log is constructed of recycled hardwood, molasses, shells, and nuts. The resulting emissions are about 80 percent lower than with traditional wood combustion.
The six logs included in this kit provide up to 24 hours of total burning time. They burn evenly, and their wrapping serves as a lighting aid. Pine Mountain logs can quickly light a nicely burning, long-lasting fire to enjoy on a cozy evening.
From Pine Mountain, these fire logs are designed to rid chimneys of creosote. A specially formulated powder integrated into each log dissolves into a gas when under combustion. This gas breaks down creosote compounds in the chimney to help reduce the danger of a chimney fire.
These fire logs burn with 80 percent fewer emissions than cord wood and still provide the ambiance and coziness of a traditional or artificial log fire. Add them to a burning fire about once a season (or every 40 fires) to help minimize chimney buildup.
FAQs About Fire Logs
Do you still have some lingering inquiries about the best fire logs for your situation? Take a look at these frequently asked questions to learn some of the most important questions to clear up before purchasing a fire log.
Q: Are fire logs toxic?
Fire logs can emit some toxic byproducts like carbon monoxide. Studies have shown that fire logs emit lower levels of potentially harmful toxins than when burning natural wood.
Q: Are fire logs suitable for stoves?
Fire logs should not be used in stoves. Fire logs require air combustion to burn properly, and the closed environment of a wood stove does not provide the proper atmosphere. When burning fire logs in fireplaces, be sure to leave glass fireplace doors open.
Q. How long do fire logs burn for?
While some fire logs can burn for as long as six hours, the average fire log burns for two to four hours. The main difference in burn time is the material from which the fire log is constructed.
Q. How do you use fire logs?
Quick light time is one of the primary benefits of fire logs. While traditional fires require the proper build of kindling, paper, wood, and coaxing to burst forth, fire logs are easy to light. The wrapper serves as the fire log’s accelerant; it lights easily and spreads evenly to the compressed material within.