This is an article submitted to her local community newspaper by Marlene, a visitor to woodheat.org
Do you know how much smoke comes out of your chimney after you have rushed off for the day, when you are inside or when you have gone to bed? If you don't know, go outside and look at your chimney. If there is smoke, you (and your neighbours) have a health and safety hazard. Do you care? You should.
Blue or grey smoke indicates a smouldering fire, incomplete combustion and air pollution. Your use of wood fuel is affecting your neighbours' health and is a public nuisance. Although it could be an improvement, you do not need an efficient high tech stove to burn cleaner. You need to be a smarter operator.
Look at the old guy (with the old stove) with little or no smoke, compared to the other guy (with a certified low emission wood stove) who seems to have a smouldering fire almost daily. Which one is the smarter, more efficient and responsible wood burning neighbour? According to the woodheat.org website, "The knowledge and skills needed to operate a wood burning system need to be learned and practiced to get them right. Although it is not brain surgery or rocket science, it is not as simple as it might first appear".
During mild weather if you want to take the chill off without overheating the house, burn a SMALL, HOT FIRE, QUICKLY. For the most common form of wood stove (front loading, updraft, noncatalytic type) this means using smaller and fewer pieces of wood stacked loosely, burning each load with the air supply open until a layer of charcoal is formed, then reducing the air slightly but not enough to extinguish the flames. Catalytic stoves have special requirements but when operated properly these too should have no smoke except for a few minutes at startup.
Do not overload your stove and most importantly:
DO NOT LET THE FIRE SMOULDER.
Your effort to reduce the amount of smoke will be appreciated by all your neighbours.