How to Burn Wood Better and Reduce Air Pollution

A flickering flame, crisp snapping of the logs and earthly aroma provide an ambience that is enjoyed by more and more in the western states. In fact, over 80% of the timber harvested in Colorado is burned in fireplaces and wood stoves, according to one estimate.

Colorado homeowners are rediscovering wood, and many are finding that it can be a satisfying alternative to more conventional forms of home heating. Efficient woodburning devices abound, and thousands of Coloradoans are making "the move to wood heat" every year. Also, some people burn wood just for the effect.

Unfortunately, this rediscovery of man's oldest heating fuel is causing an increase in air pollution. The reduced visibility and pungent odors created by the inefficient burning of wood, represent an air pollution problem as well as a less effective use of wood fuel.

Regardless of the reason you burn wood, this article contains specific tips, which will help you, get the most from your wood while limiting your contribution to the pollution problems.

Just follow these simple rules:

Burn clean properly seasoned dry wood only.

Never burn trash, coal, railroad ties, plastics or wrapping paper in your fireplace or stove. This will result in the release of various harmful, poisonous gases from the chemicals found in these materials. Colorado state law prohibits the burning of anyting but clean, dry wood. Wood should be split and loosely stacked ina dry place (preferably for one full summer) before use.

Always maintain a hot fire.

Do this by adding modest amounts of wood. When warming requirements are small you should maintain a small HOT fire. Greater heating requirements will simply call for a larger HOT fire.

Always Control Heat output primarily by fuel load size rather than by air control only.

Run your stove with the air intake at least 1/3 open. If you need less heat, build a smaller fire.

To monitor the stove's operation, make sure your chimney shows little or no visible smoke.

This means that adequate temperatures are being maintained for more complete combustion.

Clean your chimney at least one time per year!

Information obtained from the Colorado Department of Health: Air Pollution Control Division.