17 Jul 2012

Don’t Let Your Money Go Up The Chimney in Smoke!

Posted by bcsands

Imagine the scene; you’re inside your home, sitting near a nice, warm wood fire. You are enjoying looking at the flames, listening to the popping and crackling and possibly even imbibing a nice hot toddy… now take your imagination and walk outside for a minute and take a look around.  It is entirely possible that your poor neighbours are choking on the smoke from your cosy, warm fire! And that’s not all, that smoke is costing you hard earned dollars!


Why Does Smoke Waste Money?

You know the reason why smoke can cause annoyance to your neighbours, but do you know why it wastes your money? Here are just some of the ways:-

  • Smoke is made up of unburnt gasses and tars that have turned into fine particles of creosote. This is caused by fire not burning enough, so this is the fuel that should be keeping you warm, not annoying the neighbours!
  • Inefficient wood burning causes soot from continuous smoke to build up in the chimney, making the flue less and less efficient and eventually blocks the baffle. The chimney then requires specialised cleaning, another cost you can delay by efficient burning.
  • The coals from badly burned wood are large and therefore have to be disposed of in the rubbish rather than just converting to ash which can be used in the garden.


How to Stop a Wood Fire from Smoking

Wood burns from the outside in, which is why, when you first light a fire, tinder and twigs burn so well and logs do not. The bigger firewood emits gasses and tars at this stage, and that is why a fire is usually smoky to begin with. More heat is required to get a log burning, this means and getting more oxygen into the area. A fire needs to be built in three stages:-

  • Stage One – Starting with twigs and tinder such as dry leaves or fire starters, with a couple of larger sticks underneath, start the fire and get the flame burning enthusiastically. This will consume the tinder very quickly and start the sticks burning. This is the time of the greatest amount of smoke, so try to minimise this period.
  • Stage Two – When the slightly larger firewood is burning, start to place logs around the outside and at the back. The smoke should start to lessen as the gasses begin to mix with oxygen to create real heat.
  • Stage Three – By the time the logs are burning well on a bed of hot coals, the gasses are being converted to heat and there is little or no smoke.


Some people who have enclosed wood heaters with controllable air intake think that they are saving money by burning the wood more slowly. They limit the supply of oxygen into the fire box as soon as the fire is lit, but this is a false economy, because the heat from the gasses and tars is going up the chimney as smoke.

There is a new Australian invention developed at the University of New England in Armadale. It’s a device called SmartBurn and it helps to reduce smoke emission by utilising ingredients found in nature that, when heated, are released to help increase the combustion rate. The SmartBurn device makes the fire burn hotter more quickly and thereby keeps the heat in the firebox instead of going up the chimney as smoke.

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