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Learn how to burn smoke-free

Learn how to burn smoke-free

Updated 21 August 2018 11:39am

The smoke from your chimney is just wood that hasn’t fully combusted (or burnt). Perfecting your technique reduces smoke levels and creates a great, warm fire.

Wood smoke also contains fine particles that can get deep into your lungs and cause health problems. 

Learn how to build a smoke-free fire with fire-master Dave Pullen.

Step-by-step instructions on how to build a smoke-free fire

Step 1. Fold some newspaper into long strips and tie them into single knots.

Step 2. Place about six knots and several pieces of scrunched up newspaper into your wood burner.

Step 3. Loosely arrange 8-10 pieces of kindling on top of the paper.

Tip: Arrange them like a teepee.

Step 4. Add a couple of small logs, making sure not to crush your teepee.

Step 5. Set the airflow to high and light your fire.

Tip: Keeping the door open a little helps the fire to get going, but be sure not to leave it unattended.

Step 6. Once the kindling is burning well (around five minutes), add some more small logs.

Tip: Now you can close the door properly.

Step 7. Once the small logs are burning well (around 10-15 minutes), add some big logs.

Tip: Make sure there’s space between the logs to allow air to circulate.

Step 8. Once the fire is going well, you can turn the airflow down if you want to.

Step 9. When reloading, turn the airflow back to high for 15 minutes or so.

Step 10. Sit back and enjoy! 

Want to check that you are burning smoke-free?

It’s normal for some smoke to come out of your chimney while you’re getting your fire going, but it should be burning well and smoke-free after about 30 minutes.

Once you’ve got it going, brave the cold and go outside to take a look at what’s coming out of your chimney. Does it look similar to the picture with a tick? Congratulations – you’re a master fire-builder!

If it looks like one of the pictures with a cross, your wood burner is producing too much smoke.

Consider the following:

  • Are you using a good technique?
  • Are you using dry wood?
  • Has your chimney been cleaned in the last 12 months?

Photo credit: Western Australia Department of Environment and Conservation