Taupō District Council’s Top Tips For Burning Smoke-free This Winter

Published: Tue 30 Apr 2024 02:46 PM
Is there anything better than warming up next to the fire on a cold winter night?
As the Game of Thrones’ Stark family always says: “winter is coming” and while Taupō District residents don’t have to worry about a White Walker invasion, they do need to heat their homes.
As the temperature starts to drop, many Taupō District households fire up their wood burners to keep the whole whānau warm and toasty.
You can enjoy warmer, longer-lasting, lower maintenance fires from your wood burner by making small changes at no additional cost. In fact, with good technique, it’s even possible to burn completely smoke-free.
Waikato Regional Council air quality monitoring has shown that improper wood burning is a leading cause of the poor air quality seen in the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning. Poor air quality makes respiratory illnesses worse and increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
For a warmer, more efficient fire that produces little or no smoke, the trick is to use only dry wood (and a little paper to get things going of course) and to follow tried and tested steps to ensure good airflow.
Six steps to smoke-free success:Layer - Start with a generous layer of paper knots. Newspaper is great and adding scrunched-up pieces to the front as well makes it easier to light. Then, add your kindling, leaving lots of air gaps. A criss-cross pattern helps to elevate your logs to create good air flow. Next, stack two or three smaller logs around it in a pyramid shape.Light - Light your fire. Leave the door slightly open and set the air flow to high until the kindling is well alight. Then shut the door.Look - After 15 minutes, step outside to check your chimney. If you’re doing it right, there should be no visible smoke at all. If you still see some, don’t worry, it just means there’s room to improve next time.Load - Add a second load of smaller logs. Then wait another five to 10 minutes until the wood is charring and making a ‘bricking’ pattern.Reload - Add one or two bigger logs. After about an hour, these should be well alight and creating a nice bricking pattern too. At this point, you can reload with a few more of your bigger logs as required to keep it burning well.Relax - About 15 minutes after adding the new big logs, you can turn the airflow down to keep your toasty fire burning longer.
Once you’ve mastered it, you should see no smoke at all. If you do still see some though, keep persevering, it can take some time to get it just right.
It is important to remember not all wood is created equal, especially when it comes to burning. Leftover pallets may seem like a good thing to burn, but most have been treated and burning treated wood is harmful to both people and the environment.
There are also low-emission alternatives such as heat pumps, which are even better for our environment, but not affordable for all households. For more information on improving air quality in Taupō, head to Let's work together to improve the air quality in our district this winter.

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