Smoke from wood heaters is a major cause of air pollution. Not only is a smoking fire wasting your money, but the air pollution it causes can also affect our health. Correct operation of wood heaters is essential to reduce the amount of pollution being emitted into our neighbourhood.
Is wood smoke really dangerous?
A solid body of scientific evidence has confirmed that wood smoke is bad for our health. Smoke from wood heaters has a lot in common with tobacco smoke. Both are organic fuels and when they burn they give off very similar compounds. Particulate matter, especially those particles known as PM2.5, are the most worrying. Children and the elderly are most at risk from PM2.5. These particles lodge in the lungs and can trigger or worsen respiratory illnesses like asthma, pneumonia and middle ear infections. Because they can also enter the bloodstream, PM2.5 particles can raise blood pressure and cause inflammation, increasing overall risks of cardiovascular disease.
Tips to prevent wood smoke
If you can see or smell smoke from your wood heater then you are causing a problem for yourself, your family and your neighbours. That's why we need to change the way we use our heaters. Remember the following to reduce the smoke coming from your woodheater:
- Keep it dry – always use dry seasoned wood. Wood that has had at least 12 months to dry out has a lower moisture content and burns better, this produces less smoke.
- Let it breathe – if the fire doesn’t get enough air it will smoulder and smoke. The air regulator should not be in the fully closed position and you shouldn’t over fill the firebox with wood. Air needs to get in and get around the wood so it can combust properly. Smoke is caused by inefficient burning of wood – so you are essentially burning money!
- Keep it clean – remove excess ash from the firebox and make sure that your flue is cleaned at least once a year. Build-up of creosote in the chimney can be a fire hazard.
Find out more
The NSW EPA (Environmental protection Agency) has also created videos on wood smoke and heater operation available to watch on their website.
This page was last updated on: 28 May 2018