Our off-grid farmer, Hannah Breckbill, is still working to keep a consistent temperature in her woodstove-heated greenhouse. Her northern plains location means that nights still get pretty chilly, even in April. We sent her some Bio Block® Heating Blocks to see if they can help.
The problem with wood heat is that it’s inconsistent. Sometimes your wood is wetter, or dryer… there are usually some funny-shaped pieces so you can’t pack your stove all that consistently. Firewood is also hard to transport efficiently, in my experience. On the other hand, wood has perks: it’s relatively inexpensive (very inexpensive if you cut it yourself!), it provides a really satisfying and cozy fire, and it comes from current solar energy, rather than fossilized sunlight—meaning that it is carbon-neutral. (Fossilized sunlight: oil, natural gas…carbon-based fuels.)
I had the opportunity to try out some Bio Blocks® the other night in my greenhouse’s wood stove. Bio Blocks® are made of compressed hardwood waste. The company is based in Wayne County, Ohio, near Lehman’s.
The Bio Blocks® folks recycle the wood waste, pressing it into even-heating bricks that are easy to store and use. The company founder started out using waste wood material from his own milling business, but has since expanded to using waste material from other businesses in the area. What a good idea! I love multiple uses of things; waste not, want not. Because Bio Blocks® are made entirely of wood, they can be used exactly like wood in a stove—stack your blocks so that they have some amount of air circulation, stick some kindling in there, and watch ’em burn!
Since they are made of wood, the same good reasons to burn wood for heat are applicable to Bio Blocks®. They’re consistent in burn times. They are a convenient, very stackable shape. They’ve got a great low moisture content. You can build the same fire every time! (They’re safe to use in a barbecue or grill too, so you can cook over them. And they’re great for a camping fire ring or fire pit.)
If I didn’t have a readily available source of firewood (i.e. the standing dead trees that haven’t been harvested for years on the property I rent), I know that I would be using Bio Blocks®, or something like them, regularly and with pleasure.