Clean Burning Methods
Follow these steps to burn clean, heat more efficiently, and reduce air pollution.
Check the Daily Advisory Before Burning
LRAPA issues a daily home wood heating advisory that indicates if it is legal to burn. The advisory is updated daily at 2 PM to go into effect that day at 4 PM for 24 hours. Please make sure to check the advisory before you burn. To view the advisory, click here.
Burn Cleaner with New Technology
Consider replacing your old woodstove or fireplace insert with a pellet stove, or a newer EPA-certified woodstove. Both of these options produce more heat while burning less wood. Switching to natural gas or clean-burning oil are also good alternatives, as are modern electric air or geo-thermal heat pumps.
Burn only dry, season wood. Burning wet and green wood produces large amounts of smoke. Allow your firewood to dry a minimum of six months after splitting. Hardwoods dry more slowly than soft woods and may take more than a year to fully dry.
To speed drying, stack split wood loosely in a crosswire pattern to enable good air circulation. Stack wood in a sunny, well-ventilated area a foot or more above the ground and away from buildings. Cover the wood with a tarp to protect from dew, rain, and anow, but leave the sides open to breezes.
Hardwoods usually burn longer than softer woods, such as fir or cedar. Soft woods burn hot and fast. Use soft wood to get a fire going. Once you have a bed of hot coals, add hardwoods to keep the fire burning longer.
Never Burn Garbage
Never burn garbage, plastics, rubber, paint or oil, painted or treated wood, particleboard, plywood, coal, glossy or colored good, or clothing. Burning such things produces fumes that are toxic to you and your neighbors, and often cause health problems for people with asthma, allergies, or heart/lung diseases. It is also illegal and residents caught burning prohibited materials are subject to fines ranging from $100 to up to several thousand dollars.
Keep it Small
Build small, hot fires to burn cleanly and reduce air pollution. This practice will also reduce creosote buildup in your chimney, which helps avoid chimney fires. Your fire needs air to burn cleanly. Leave the damper and other air inlets open for 20 to 30 minutes to establish a hot bed of coals before loading on any logs.
Never damper the stove completely. Keep your fuel loads and fuel sizes modest to maximize heat and minimize smoke.
Pay Attention to Smoke
If you see thick, gray smoke coming from your chimney, your fire is not burning efficiently. Thick smoke is wasted fuel from firewood that becomes air pollution, which wastes your money and is hazardous to breathe in. The fire will burn hotter and cleaner if you increase the air going to the fire throught the stove vent.
A properly burning fire should only give off a thin wisp of smoke and look similar to heat waves. The darker the smoke, the more pollutants it contains and the more fuel it wastes. Brush up on city ordinances concerning smoke opacity by clicking here.
Don't "Bed it Down" For The Night
"Holding" a fire overnight by cutting down the air supply creates unnecessary smoke and creosote, which is a fire hazard. The smoke can backdraft into the house and cause a serious indoor air pollution problem. Let your fire burn out completely, and rely on your home's insulation to hold in enough heat for the night.
Keep Your Stove and Chimney Clean
Periodic inspection of your stove or fireplace is imperative to ensure its continued safety and clean-burning operation. Remove your stove ashes every 7 to 10 days and clean your chimney annually. Clean or replace plugged catalytic combustors according to manufacturer's instructions. Check your stove for leaks; the gaskets on airtight stove doors need to be replaced every five years.