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Reducing air pollution from wood stove?

 
pollinator
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I know very little about wood stoves, except how to operate mine. Our house was built in the '80s and the stove was probably put in around then without a lot of updates since. It works great, but I'm aware that I'm probably pooping out a lot more smoke and soot into the air than I need to be. Are there some simple things I can do/check to keep the air pollution at a minimum? (Simple meaning, not ripping out and replacing the entire thing, or generally anything involving a sledgehammer, masonry tools or a welding kit.) I've heard talk of some people sticking a filter at the top of the chimney to catch some of the particulate; is that a standard thing? How do I know if I have one of these filters, how do I get one if I don't, and how do I pick out a decent one?
 
pollinator
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Biggest thing you can do without modifying anything is burn only very dry wood, at a good hot temp so it is combusting as completely as the design of your stove allows.
 
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Any type of filter is liable to clog and possibly kill you with CO gas.  (You do have a detector, right?).  What you may have heard of was an add on catalytic converter that goes on right above the stove.  To my knowledge, they don't work very well.

We have a stove made in the 80's and as long as mind the advise posted above, I get very little smoke.  Even burning pine.
 
Meg Mitchell
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Gray Henon wrote:Any type of filter is liable to clog and possibly kill you with CO gas.  (You do have a detector, right?).  What you may have heard of was an add on catalytic converter that goes on right above the stove.  To my knowledge, they don't work very well.

We have a stove made in the 80's and as long as mind the advise posted above, I get very little smoke.  Even burning pine.



Yes, we have multiple detectors and keep it burning hot, and wouldn't dream of altering the stove or chimney without doing proper research first. Posting here is just a part of that initial research since I know a lot of you folks use wood stoves and many would be interested in keeping the pollution down. Thanks for everyone's advice so far.
 
Dillon Nichols
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I was wondering if there was an add-on cat..

I don't like em even when designed into a stove.

As I understand it, when the air pollution rules changed, way back, stove manufacturers were not well prepared. So, they slapped cats i/onto some stoves, restricted how far you could dampen them, and sent em out. Good enough.

The cats are expensive consumable items, though they should last a good while. Some wood, alder for example, is a no-no with a cat. Something something particle size something bad.

After some time had passed, newer designs were able to hit the new(at the time) standards without a cat...



I would just save your 'upgrade' money, and eventually you might consider a newer, more efficient, cleaner burning stove.
 
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I cannot say anything better than what Dillon has written, as he is absolutely right.

I have seen a lot of devices made for the woodstove, but none really work well because they impede draft; whether by physically filtering the particulates, or by reducing the temperature going up the chimney. Dry wood is just the best way to reduce your emissions out of a woodstove...and it also happens to be the easiest way too.

Myself, I have no issues with burning wood because I know I am one of very few overall in the United States who does, and overall the impact of a woodstove is very minimal. I mean one forest fire pumps out more smoke then all the woodstoves ever used in Maine.

I think the modern cat woodstove requirement was a result of outside woodburning stoves. They were, and still are, marketed as being able to burn green wood, but green wood is almost 60% water, and I have yet to figure out how burning water heats a home. Even the manufactuers that build those stoves cannot figure it out because they are only 30% effecient. To put that in perspective, that means for every cord of wood you put in the stove (128 cubic feet of wood), 90 cubic feet is wasted effort. I do know why people do that...they are thinking using cords and cords of cheap wood is better than using more expensive dry wood, but it is kind of silly. Ultimately what that nonsense ended up with was smoky outside stoves that annoyed neighbors. Government had to do something about it, and presented cat stoves as the answer.

It is just misplaced regulation.
 
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An area of concern I’ve seen for pollution from burning wood revolves around the use of the stove during the “shoulder” seasons adjacent to winter, when it gets just cold enough you want a fire, but not cold enough to justify a strong fire. Combine that with an inversion where instead of rising, the smoke floats nearby, usually directly into the neighbor most likely to make a fuss. The outdoor boilers came into a lot of criticism along these lines (lots of utube vids). I once lit some charcoal and the smoke did not disburse at all, but rather In slow motion floated down the hill and out into the road creating a driving hazard for a few minutes.
 
pollinator
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What kind of chimney does it have? And maybe a stove pic?
 
Travis Johnson
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James Whitelaw wrote:An area of concern I’ve seen for pollution from burning wood revolves around the use of the stove during the “shoulder” seasons adjacent to winter, when it gets just cold enough you want a fire, but not cold enough to justify a strong fire. Combine that with an inversion where instead of rising, the smoke floats nearby, usually directly into the neighbor most likely to make a fuss. The outdoor boilers came into a lot of criticism along these lines (lots of utube vids). I once lit some charcoal and the smoke did not disburse at all, but rather In slow motion floated down the hill and out into the road creating a driving hazard for a few minutes.



This is one of the reasons I like a Pot Bellied stove. It is kind of laziness, but many of us wood burners like to just keep a fire going, and not have to constantly light a stove. Why that is, I am not sure, because it really is not big deal to start a stove if you have matches, paper and some kindling, yet I take pride in keeping my fire going all night.

So for this, the pot bellied stove comes in handy. People have said that there is no way a pot belied stove can burn less wood in a home because a btu is a btu is a btu, but that is not true. A homeowner does not always want a raging fire, so using what amounts to half-length sticks of wood in the stove, saves a lot of firewood. And a lot of times, once a house is warm, you just need to keep the fire simmering along and not roaring to extract every btu out of it that is possible, again what amounts to burning half-sticks of firewood, can really save firewood.

I like the pot bellied stove for other reasons tool like drying my mittens, having a back up way to cook meals, and alternative heating fuels, but overall my house stays warm, and I use a lot less wood with my pot bellied stove.

My 1893 Woods and Bishop Pot bellied Stove
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[Thumbnail for DSCN5237.JPG]
 
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