Byproducts such as smoke are produced when organic matter burns, including wood.
It’s almost certain that smoke will come out of a fireplace, fire pit, stove, or chiminea, whether they are smokeless or not.
This leads to many people thinking that wood-burning fires emit a large amount of smoke.
In reality, excess smoke signals an incomplete combustion process and can cause a variety of problems if left unaddressed.
Smoke Is Produced By Wood-Burning Fire
Smoke is produced when wood does not completely burn in a wood-burning fire. It is possible to mistake smoke for nothing more than vapors or gases to the naked eye.
You will find a lot of organic matter in it, however, if you examine it under a microscope.
In the absence of complete burning, ultrafine particles called particulates can be released into the air.
Fires involving organic matter are no exception, and wood-burning fires are no different. Byproducts of incomplete combustion, like smoke, will be released if the wood does not burn completely.
The Dangers Of Smoke
The presence of excessive smoke poses several concerns, even though a little smoke is usually harmless.
A number of health concerns, such as upper respiratory irritation, can be caused by smoke exposure, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Inadvertently inhaling smoke causes irritation in the lungs when it enters your nose and mouth.
A smoker’s upper respiratory tract can be irritated more easily by smoke if they suffer from asthma or other lung ailments.
The presence of excess smoke could trigger an asthma attack in people who suffer from asthma.
Creosote is also formed by smoke when a black, sticky, and highly flammable substance is built up.
Those with fireplaces may accumulate tar-like creosote inside their chimneys due to excess smoke.
A flue’s interior walls will be coated with smoke as it rises into the flue. With time, creosote buildup in the flue may restrict air flow through the top of the chimney as it restricts air flow through the flue.
The potential for a house fire, however, is even more concerning. It is possible for creosote inside your fireplace flue to ignite or explode if it is heated up enough.
Choose Dry Firewood
Using only dry firewood will reduce the amount of smoke your wood-burning fire produces.
Each piece of wood contains some moisture because it is an organic material; however, how the wood is processed determines how much moisture it contains.
A free tree that is harvested and sold immediately usually has a high moisture content. In addition to having a moisture content of 100% or higher, it may also be referred to as fresh firewood or green firewood.
Water makes up half of the weight of wood at 100%. It is impossible for the wood to burn completely because of all that moisture.
It is possible for some of the “wet” wood to burn, but there is a great deal of organic matter released as smoke when such wood burns.
It is common for some firewood to be processed or aged outside in order to reduce the moisture content. This type of firewood has a moisture content of approximately 20% to 25%, a characteristic known as air-drying.
Firewood that has been air dried can still produce excess smoke, however. It is best not to burn fresh, green, or air-dried wood in order to avoid excessive smoke.
You should instead choose wood that has been kiln-dried. The kiln-drying process is considered one of the most advanced methods of wood processing. All other types of wood are inferior to it in terms of performance.
Kiln-dried firewood is typically dry with just 10% to 15% moisture content. It’s processed in a drying kiln that removes moisture from its pores. Compared to fresh and green firewood, it is several times drier.
Firewood that has been kiln-dried produces little to no smoke when burned due to its exceptionally dry properties.
Choose Hardwood Firewood
It is always best to use firewood that is dry and cut from hardwood trees. There is a greater density in hardwood varieties like oak firewood than in softwood varieties like pine.
Hardness, or density, refers to the amount of organic matter contained in wood. In comparison with their softwood counterparts, hardwood varieties contain more organic matter.
As a result, they burn brighter and hotter because they undergo a more complete combustion process.
Due to the fact that softwood firewood contains more sap, hardwood firewood is denser. Why is this important?
Sap restricts combustion, just like moisture. Because of this, the wood cannot burn completely, causing more smoke to be produced.
Resin is still produced by hardwood trees, but sap is not.
The burning process of hardwood firewood is therefore more complete than the burning process of softwood firewood, resulting in greater heat and lower smoke levels.
Kiln-dried firewood from hardwood varieties won’t smoke you out as long as you use a hardwood variety.
Hardwood firewood includes the following types:
- Oak Firewood
- Hickory Firewood
- Cherry Firewood
It is also possible to reduce smoke with a wood-burning fireplace by increasing the airflow.
The combustion of organic matter requires both oxygen and organic matter. They will burn out without either of these elements.
If your fire is starved of fresh air or otherwise restricted, its temperature output will also fall.
If you have a wood-burning fire, how can you increase airflow?
Fire containment devices vary in their effectiveness depending on the type. To increase airflow in a fireplace, fully open the flue damper while you’re building a fire.
The damper will not allow enough air into and out of the fireplace if it is only partially open, which will starve the fire of fresh oxygen.
The fire pit you’re using should be located in an area with some airflow if you’re building a fire in it.
Smoke is reduced when your fire burns brighter and hotter with greater airflow.
Add More Wood
It is also important to keep in mind that how much wood you burn will affect how much smoke you produce.
Fires that are smaller produce more smoke than fires that are larger. The amount of smoke produced by a fire built with only two or three small logs is significant.
It is also possible for some organic matter not to burn completely due to the fire burning at a lower temperature (known as smoldering).
Make sure you burn dry, hardwood firewood when building large fires to prevent your home from being smoked out.
Additionally, you should keep your fire going by adding wood as needed. Firewood that has been kiln dried can be tossed into a dying fire if it is dying down.
In summary, it’s not normal for a wood-burning fire to produce a lot of smoke, and this excess smoke indicates incomplete combustion. In the event that the wood does not burn completely, airborne particulate matter will be released as smoke.