Stop smelling like a campfire every time you use your fireplace. here’s how

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Avoid making a lot of unnecessary smoke every time you light up.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Even the fanciest smoke-free foyer is not entirely smoke-free. Under certain conditions, these wood-burning machines can emit as much smoke as their old-fashioned counterparts. Likewise, even low-tech fireplaces can be less smoky when used skillfully.

This guide lists simple tips for making your fireplace work better so that it generates as little smoke as possible. Other side benefits include better fires that roar with minimal effort and the fact that you’re less likely to smoke your neighbors.

When your pit is completely cool, remove the ash and other debris.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Clean it first

Lots of ash, dirt and solid debris in your pit is a problem. This gunk hinders air circulation. This is especially true with modern smoke-free fireplace models. They rely on sophisticated ventilation systems to draw air from ground level.

The air provides oxygen for the combustion of wood in the pit. Once the fire is hot enough, the rising smoke is brought back to the ground through additional vents at the top of the pit. This flow creates a secondary burn that is both hotter and emits much less smoke than regular campfires.

That is why it is imperative to keep your home clean and in good working order.

Use dry hardwood

Fuel that contains little moisture is the key to enjoying a satisfying bonfire. Whether you plan to light a traditional fireplace, a smokeless fireplace, or a basic campfire, it is essential to have seasoned wood. When you hit two pieces of dry wood together, you should hear a high-pitched sound, almost a ringing sound. Many home improvement stores sell kiln-dried wood especially for the purpose.

Wet wood, on the other hand, is heavier. And when slammed together, damp rooms produce a thudding or low pitched sound. You should also look for hardwood varieties like hickory, oak, or ash. Avoid soft woods like pine and cedar. They contain large amounts of smoke-producing resin and sap.

Create a log cabin structure inside your fireplace. Smaller pieces at the top and larger pieces at the bottom with kindling in the center.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Install your fire well

It’s tempting to throw several large logs into your fireplace to begin with. Instead, choose smaller newspapers. Use the log cabin method shown above. This technique offers a lot of space for air circulation as it leaves spaces between the wood.

Be sure to add small, thin strips of wood to the center of your log cabin structure. This small wood should ignite quickly and then spread the fire to the larger pieces of wood. You can also use a fire starter to help get things done. Lint from the dryer also works here.

Don't smell the campfire, light it

Make sure your fire starts fully by using dryer lint and more kindling than you think you need.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Light it up with authority

Often it takes more energy to start a fire than expected. Avoid this by lighting several fire starters, or at least more than you think necessary, at first. Often times, this will reduce the chances of your fire going out before it really starts.

With skill, practice, and the right fuel, you’ll have a good, low-smoke fire in your home in no time.

Brian Bennett / CNET

Don’t overfeed it

I admit that this is a mistake that I often make. With the fire in the pit rolling well, I’m overdoing it by adding too much wood. Placing too much wood in a fire will drastically lower the temperatures in the pit. This leads to a lot more smoke. It can even cause a fire to be extinguished.

When adding more fuel, do it one piece at a time. Resisting the urge to supercharge your fire helps keep the flames going in the long run.

You can convert Breeo smokeless fireplaces into serious outdoor cooking machines.

Breeo

Some recommendations for a smoke-free fireplace

If you’re ready to switch to an advanced smoke-free fireplace, here are some of our favorites. The Solo Yukon stove has a 23 inch large mouth. It also has an impressive air circulation system which produced the least smoke of any fireplace we tested.

For durability and functionality, definitely go with the Breo X Series 24. This fireplace has a large diameter of 29.5 inches and a smokeless air circulation system. It is also surrounded by a cooking plate for grilling food. And constructed from COR-TEN steel, the X Series is built to last.

Need a portable fire pit to take to the beach or on your next camping trip? Take a look at the BioLite fireplace. Compact, the FirePit uses a motorized fan to provide adjustable airflow. You can also grill on it and you can control it with your phone via bluetooth.

Read more: Best fireplace to buy in 2021


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