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Smoke in the firebox

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by etiger2007, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Hey guys, well since I had my over fire scare a few weeks back I am not cracking my door to get a fire going on a good bed of coals. What I cant stand is while watching the splits catch fire the fire box will have smoke in it until things get going good and then smoke will go away and Im off to the races. Is this start up smoke a big deal ( will this smoke fill the liner with creosote)? It last about 5 or 10 minutes during start up. Also I have been trying the rake the coals forward method and It seem like towards the end of the burn I get smoke coming out of my chimney and I have to give it more air, kinda like when the bottom log in the back gets its chance to burn the air is dampered down (3/4 closed) and it cant get going. I wouldnt want this going on when Im not at home.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I don't have any reason why you shouldn't be able to crack the door open a little on a reload if needed. This is a judgement call. If sometimes you need to leave the door ajar for a restart, no big deal. Just don't space it out!
    etiger2007 likes this.
  3. raiderfan

    raiderfan Feeling the Heat

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    I never really gave this much of a thought, until reading your post. I always have a lot of start up smoke filling the box when starting a fire from scratch. Clears after a few minutes or so, once things get going, and has never stained up the glass or anything. I always assumed it was because of the way I started my fires, with just a fraction of a super cedar lighting right into medium to large sized splits -- instead of using paper and small kindling.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  4. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    I get a lot of smoke in my firebox on startup burns if I am re-starting with few coals and a relatively low firebox temperature (150 degrees F), such as the first morning fire after an overnight burn. If I give the fire extra air by cracking the door, there is much less smoke. I'm always near the firebox while I'm doing this, or if I walk away, I set an alarm to go off on my mobile phone so that I don't forget.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  5. Billybonfire

    Billybonfire Feeling the Heat

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    Hi Ed,
    I also don't like smoke in the firebox.
    What I do is on reloading if the wood doesn't catch within a few seconds, I crack the door for a few seconds and if it still doesnt catch I open the door again, this usually causes the wood to catch light, I think it must be the change in pressure.

    Worth a try.

    Billy.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  6. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    I'm an evening and weekend burner , so cold relatively cold smokey starts are the norm. Just had the flue swept yesterday after one year of use and had no creosote.
  7. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I imagine, with an EPA stove, cracking the door could put more creosote in the chimney than a smokey firebox would. Cracking the door lets lots of cold air into the firebox. Since the stove isn't hot, it will still be cool while going up the chimney causing the smoke to condense out the water vapor into creosote.

    Now if you leave the door closed, draft is reduced and less cold air is pulled into the stove. The air that is in there has a chance to warm up before it goes up the flue. The warmer air will hold the water vapor better and condense less out onto the chimney.

    That said, both ways certainly work and I wouldn't worry about it. I like playing Devil's Advocate though.

    Matt
  8. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    All great replies and I thank all of you, but also why do you think I have problems getting my back log to burn later in the burn cycle? I rake the coals forward put two splits in the back on the fire bricks, then load two more on coals, then load some small stuff to get things going. Then I find myself messing with the air late in the burn to get that last charred log to burn cleanly, wiid is 20% or less ash. The air is never completey closed about 3/4. Im going to load up right now and Im going to try placing a small ugly on the bricks with a large split on top of that and finish loading as I always do we will see if that works.
  9. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    I agree to that.

    If i burn some oak still not dry i will have that problem later in the burn like you said.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  10. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    The back log does not have the air movement around it that the front logs do. The air wash comes down the front glass and hits those hot coals that you just pulled to the front. It is super heated and directly hits the first split. That log starts off gassing and the secondaries go wild.

    That back log will either be half covered in coals or not completely hit by the washed air. The air hits the bottom of the stove and has to turn up before it reaches the back of the stove. This leads to slower combustion. Try leaving some of the coals on the bottom of the stove (It puts heat directly under the log) and carving a channel along the bottom of the stove (right down the middle) so the hot air has a way to get under the log.

    Matt
    etiger2007 likes this.
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Hey Ed, don't worry about that smoke. Whenever you put new wood in the stove you immediately get lots of smoke; everyone does. On our stove, if I'm outdoors I can tell when my wife puts wood in the stove because lots of smoke comes out the chimney. No worries. The first thing that happens when you start a fire is as things heat up, the evaporation of the remaining moisture takes place and this is in that first smoke that you see. It is good to get that up and out the chimney before the draft is closed but I would not worry about it causing creosote unless your wood is too wet.

    On the door being cracked a bit, no problem. We just came inside after doing some outdoor work and there were just a few coals in the stove. Put in 3 splits and left the door cracked for maybe 3 or 4 minutes. It took about 12 minutes to heat up enough to engage the catalyst. Since then, no smoke at all and stove giving lots of heat.

    On that rear log, that is normal; don't worry a bit about it. This little bugger will give you a good start on your next fire!

    Happy heating.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  12. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Savage, once again you are correct when you say the back log will give you coals ths next morning as this is the case when i burn this way. I figured that if i saw smoke i was buning ineffiecently and gunking up the liner. Can i ask why is this ok for this log and its usually a biggin?
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Ed, that big log will burn some through the night which will help keep the stove temperature up. Yet, it burns through a large time frame and that is why you don't always see it burned totally. Just be happy it is there to help the next fire get going nicely.
  14. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    I second what Eatenbylimestone and Backwoods Savage say. I'll add that I don't like a smoky burn late in the burn cycle either. I can get a smoky burn late in the burn cycle even with wood that is <20% m.c. I solve this problem by doing what Eatenbylimestone said (leave a couple of small coals in the back, carve a channel in the coals in the front middle), but I also add a vertical "stick" in the back against the back firebricks, and this keeps the back logs away from the firebricks and allows air to circulate around them for a more complete burn. Also, I'll put the largest log in the front bottom of the firebox and the smaller ones in the back - this balances and evens the burn amongst all of the logs. I have a small firebox, and this is what works for me. Maybe some of these ideas will work for you.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Interesting DBoon that your method is the reverse of most. I'm not so sure about that vertical stick either as I really don't want the air to circulate around that rear log.
  16. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    Hi Dennis, in my case, I don't have a catalytic converter to eat up the smoke from late in the burn, and I have a neighbor only 15 feet away, so I try to be sensitive to any smoke I am causing. With a cat, I probably wouldn't worry about it at all.

    I still get a nice, long burn. I'll have coals in my firebox eight to ten hours later, and temperatures high enough for a reasonably fast re-start.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  17. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    DBoon I think I'll give this a try tonight and see what happens for giggles if anything else.
  18. bryan

    bryan Member

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    This might be a completely bad way of doing things, but if its a bit smoky in the stove on a reload rather than keeping the door cracked I'll throw a piece of crumpled newspaper on top of coals which lightes off fast and seems to help jump start things.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  19. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    These stoves wont be perfect , the non-cat type EPA stove lets some smoke out the chimney. But its a light smoke not a heavy dark smoke. If your trying for no smoke all the time you will drive yourself crazy. You will get a small amount a creosote. For those chimney fires in the news those are extreme cases of letting lots of build up in your flue. You have several things working for you hopefully you have a insulated flue liner , keeping the smoke gases warm all the way up thru the flue gets what little smoke there is up and out of the flue before it can condensate to the walls of the flue. You should be burning seasoned wood that limits creosote build up also. Then lastly your burning in a EPA stove that doesnt let you shut the air down all the way so that also limits the creosote formation plus the stove is like 76 to 80 percent efficient burning up most of the bad stuff, whats left isnt going to cause alot of problems. Is the stove fool proof , no , Is the stove perfect, no.

    You might check your bigger splits that you put in the back of the stove for moisture content by splitting one, one more time and checking the inside moisture reading. I say this as the bigger splits take longer to dry out and you may be surprised that they still may have moisture in the middle.
    corey21 likes this.
  20. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Well thats what I was aiming for no smoke except start up and reload. Your post is true the smoke I see is very light, this will be my third year running an EPA stove so there is a curve there (second stove in three years as well). I did crack open a couple huge Ash splits and they come in around 21-22% moisture in the middle and I feel this will be ok for this year and the stacks will only get better as Im three years ahead on wood.
    Huntindog1 likes this.
  21. CodyWayne718

    CodyWayne718 Feeling the Heat

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    I think every body gets smoke on reloads. If the door is cracked the same amount of smoke is still being produced, it's just moving out of the stove faster so you can't see it.... idk, sounds about right though :)
  22. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    This proves it - my wife is trying to make me crazy. ;lol
  23. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    That makes me fell better also.

    At the end of the burn i sometimes get whitish smoke out the pipe.

    So if i see dark gray or dark blue that means it is dirty.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  24. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    Darker thicker dirtier it means not as clean burn.
    Alot of times vapors coming out could be moisture its lighter floats away quicker, disappears quicker.

    You can smell the creosote making type smoke its strong smelling.
    etiger2007 likes this.
  25. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like all is well DBoon.

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