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Aha, solved the "burning dust" smell.....

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by webbie, Nov 13, 2006.

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  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,099
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    A constant question here over the years has been a "metal smell" which folks can't seem to get rid of. This occurs with woodstoves as well as gas fireplace, but you rarely hear of it with pellet stoves.

    I have guessed - given my experience and the lack of other causes, that it is BURNING DUST that folks are smelling. Wow, here is a passage from Count Rumford a couple hundred years ago which confirms the problem (hey, soapstone folks, this is one for your corner!).

    "(the offensive smell) - it arises from a very different cause;-- from a fault in the construction of German stoves in general, but which may be easily and most completely remedied, as I shall show more fully in another place. In the mean time, I would just observe here with regard to these stoves, that as they are often made of iron, and as this metal is a very good conductor of heat, some part of the stove in contact with the air of the room becomes so hot as to calcine or rather to ROAST the dust which lights upon it; which never can fail to produce a very disagreeable effect on the air of the room. And even when the stove is constructed of pantiles or pottery-ware, if any part of it in contact with the air of the room is suffered to become very hot, which seldom fails to be the case in German stoves constructed on the common principles, nearly the same effects will be found to be produced on the air as when the stove is made of iron, as I have very frequently had occasion to observe.
    "

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  2. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,152
    Loc:
    Midwest
    I guess this is the smell you get when you light off a furnace, stove, insert, or other heating appliance for the first time of the year? It is a distinct smell, but I've never really noticed it to hang around after the first heating of the season burns the summers accumulation of dust off. Perhaps the good Count lived in a very dusty house and was why he was never able to get rid of the smell? I think in modern homes the claim is that the majority of household dust is actally dead skin cells...so maybe that is actually what we smell burning?

    Corey
  3. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    2,859
    Loc:
    Eastern Nebraska
    I've seen the same thing with all different heating appliances and haven't seen/smelled or heard about an on going issue after the first light off of the season.

    Maybe a furnace smelling dusty because of a dirty venting system during the season but not from the heater itself.
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