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dhs 08-02-2010 05:27 AM

Tips for Minimizing Smoke
I live in an urban setting. I am in the mid to latter part of curing and had been using charcoal as a heat source before yesterday. With the wood fire, there was a lot of smoke. I am pretty sure it would eventually become a problem with my neighbors if that always occured when I started the oven. After a little research I know I did things that made it smoke more than it needed to such as bottom up starting, adding wood to a fire that was not ready for it, disturbing the pile too early and the fact that I was trying to not make a big fire. Inexperience for sure. What I would like to know is what I can do to reduce the smoke (and shorten the learning curve).

One thing I know I should try out:
I have to try is the top down fire starting

All other tips would be appreciated. Thanks, David

dhs 08-02-2010 09:25 AM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke
I did some more reading on this site. There are some good posts on smoke reduction. I'll try to list some of the tips I am reading about. All tips welcome from your experiences too!

During curing your oven smokes more than it will with more firings. This makes sense to me since a curing oven will not be as hot (efficient) as a cured one.

Obvious? Green and/or wet wood significantly increase smoke. Species of wood could also play into this. Resinous woods, for instance, would smoke more.

Start the fire small and work up to larger logs or try the top down technique which by design burns smaller to larger.

DrakeRemoray 08-03-2010 02:47 PM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke
Also, make sure you offer pizza to your neighbors...this reduces any complaining about the smoke!

But seriously, the only time I have smoke is about the first 10 minutes when the fire is getting going. Once in a while if my oven or wood is wet, then it takes a few minutes longer to get up to a hot enough temp to eliminate smoke. Often the only way I can tell that the oven is still burning is by looking for the heat waves out of the chimney...


Grimaldi 08-03-2010 04:01 PM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke
Use only well seasoned split hardwoods...maple, oak, etc...that is the key. No matter what kind of wood you use there will be smoke on start up.

Tscarborough 08-03-2010 04:26 PM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke
Smoke=incomplete combustion, so there is no way to prevent some smoke at startup. Dry wood is the most important, as is getting the fire to high temps quickly.

dhs 08-04-2010 07:45 PM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke
thanks guys. I spoke with the neighbors and they seem to be ok with the smoke so far having not noticed anything. I am using kiln dried oak, so I should be good there. Will try again for a larger fire this weekend.

BackyardPermaculture 08-05-2010 09:04 PM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke

A properly-lit top-down fire will produce very little smoke.

The top-lit or "upside down" fire can be very efficient - but you want the fire to burn evenly across the top. Such a fire can burn off the gases that are emitted - which creates a more efficient burn and produces less emissions. I've found it to work extremely well.


dhs 08-06-2010 06:44 PM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke
Did a firing today with the top down technique, actually did two. First one was not too good. Had the transition from small pieces to the logs too fast and wound up with a bunch of smoke again when the fire could not sustain itself. Was smarter with the second attempt later in the day. This one was very good indeed. Some smoke at the start, but then it hit a sweet spot and continued on till there were only embers left.

A couple of more questions came to mind during todays work..

Does everyone start their fires in the center and the pile over when ready to cook? With the top down, it seems I might do well to build on the side and just let it be.

Also - bark, is there a consensus on removing it or leaving it on?

thanks everyone, David

Tscarborough 08-06-2010 06:57 PM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke
Bark smokes. I am not familiar with the top down method though.

BackyardPermaculture 08-06-2010 08:51 PM

Re: Tips for Minimizing Smoke
I agree that bark should be avoided if you want to reduce smoke.

I've only ever run the fire in the middle of the oven and let it burn down until it gets good heat into the hearth - if you started it on one side, not sure if the hearth would get hot enough. Then again, lots of ovens seem to have a problem of the hearth being too hot so it may be worth experimenting.


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