Now there’s a renewable heating fuel that burns hotter and longer than the best firewood, yet it involves no deforestation. Four years into research and development, a fire logs startup has discovered yet another use for the Kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) crop. Traditional uses for this plant include human and livestock food rich in iron and protein, animal bedding, rope and twine, carpet backing, paper, and bioplastics. Now it’s building a new economy and jobs in the Kentucky mountains and poised to erase the scars of top removal mining in coal country.
Kenaf, one of the fastest growing plants in the world, produces an amazing amount of biomass per acre annually. A successful harvest requires no tilling and very little fertilizer but delivers exceptional output in the southern US states. And growing it as a renewable heating fuel crop makes it the perfect candidate for controlling the host of environmental issues Kentucky has from over 500 mountaintop removal mining sites now left behind by mining companies.
In working with a local lab, Dr Robin Richmond Mason, a sociology professor at Eastern Kentucky University, discovered the mature plant’s potential as a fuel. So, she started growing kenaf. Initially on a single plot, but expanded to four pieces of land in 2017, with the goal of producing Fiber Flame Fire Fuel Logs as a consumer product available nationwide. They can be used with firewood to make wood heating more efficient, or as a standalone fuel source for campfires, fire pits, and even barbecue cooking.
The new company known as Tree Of The Field, introduced its first product this spring, the Fiber Flame Pit Kit, which hit select Kentucky store shelves in Lexington, Richmond, and Berea. Their fire logs contain no sawdust or other waste products but are made entirely from the kenaf harvest, a harvest is done with equipment running on kenaf fuel, so it’s a totally sustainable and annually renewable.
Curious about how this new product perform? Firstly, they’re the only fire logs on the market that actually produce heat. Duraflame, Java Log, and the rest of Fiber Flame’s forerunners give you flames only. The competition’s fire log fire lasts 3 hours on average, but the flames usually cease in an hour or less.
Secondly, seasoned oak firewood gives you 6,983 BTUs of heat per pound, and burns longer than all other types of wood. Fiber Flame fire logs produce 7,500 BTUs with double the burn time and very little ash. And unlike other brands, these are carbon-neutral and chemical-free. All other fire log brands do contain chemicals and produce carbon while burning, which one would expect as they are all glued together with petroleum waxes.
Check out the difference in flame, heat, and burn time in the burn test video below done at a Kentucky fireplace shop below:
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Images courtesy of Tree Of The Field.