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Why does burning firewood smell so bad?

Started 1354942689.937 in Viewpoints | Last reply 1361956759.8 by Last Reply by

We're getting close to that time of year again and some of my neighbors like to burn wood in their fireplace. It always smells acrid and burns my throat if I go outside. Plus, have to make sure my windows are shut tight. Are they using the wrong type of wood? We never use our fireplace....it just doesn't get cold enough, we feel anyway. One recent night it was 44 and one of our neighbors was already at it. Do you think that's odd? At what temperature do you start using your fireplace?



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sunshine451354943046.841055 PostsRegistered 1/13/2007east coast and west coast

we start using ours if it gets below 50 degrees generally..... i love the warmth and the ambiance of a nice fire..... and i love the smell outside in particular, especially if it is chilly.

"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" - Eleanor Roosevelt

mgm21354943183.42317850 PostsRegistered 9/15/2012Livin' My Life Like It's Golden

44 degrees is cool enough to use your fireplace.

In spring or fall when the sun is out but not warm enough to heat the home, having the fireplace on is fine.

Some wood is better suited for burning then others - and it has to be 'dried out' before burning. It's not advisable to use 'new wood' because it will smoke and not burn easily or eveny.

Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine. - Lord Byron


scotttie1354943222.3936270 PostsRegistered 6/15/2006

I think your neighbors are using green wood or some other wood that doesn't smell good. My dad's fireplace always smelled good but we have neighbors whose fireplaces smell like a trash fire or something!

Mrs Doubtfire: 'He was quite fond of the drink. It was the drink that killed him.'
Miranda: 'How awful. He was an alcoholic?'
Mrs Doubtfire: 'No, he was hit by a Guinness truck.'
Robin Williams --1951-2014

neala1354943243.4232512 PostsRegistered 10/31/2012City by the bay
Love the smell! Start a fire as soon as the air "feels" chilly. :)




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kittykatkay1354943392.50323127 PostsRegistered 2/24/2011

It doesn't bother me, I love the smell of firewood - inside or outside. I guess it's the way I was brought up, I suppose. We had that in the home (fireplace) and also did alot of "bonfires" and stuff like that on our/and relatives' farm land when I was just a kid.

I love to laugh and dance......

ILikeShade1354943593.137120 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012

What about late at night? Does everyone leave the fire going all night long while they're in bed sleeping? I don't get it...sorry. I mean if one had a fireplace in their bedroom I'd get it but no one out here does.



scotttie1354943923.04736270 PostsRegistered 6/15/2006

It might be a wood burning stove found. I know people who use them to heat their homes or add additional warming.

Mrs Doubtfire: 'He was quite fond of the drink. It was the drink that killed him.'
Miranda: 'How awful. He was an alcoholic?'
Mrs Doubtfire: 'No, he was hit by a Guinness truck.'
Robin Williams --1951-2014

bikerbabe1354944034.5538560 PostsRegistered 4/10/2007

some people have wood burning stoves as their only source of heat.

I take pleasure in my 'transformations'. I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.
- Anais Nin

mgm21354944125.3817850 PostsRegistered 9/15/2012Livin' My Life Like It's Golden
On 12/7/2012 ~foundinlv~ said:

What about late at night? Does everyone leave the fire going all night long while they're in bed sleeping? I don't get it...sorry. I mean if one had a fireplace in their bedroom I'd get it but no one out here does.

The wood continues to burn even after the flame has died down. If you do it correctly, the wood in the fireplace will continue burning for hours.

Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine. - Lord Byron


sunshine451354944318.16341055 PostsRegistered 1/13/2007east coast and west coast

no, we dont have the fire going all night long. we pretty much know when the fire will be dying and we dont add anymore wood to the fire if we are planning on leaving the room for the night OR if we are going to bed soon.

"When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?" - Eleanor Roosevelt

ILikeShade1354944426.2137120 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012
On 12/7/2012 mgm2 said:
On 12/7/2012 ~foundinlv~ said:

What about late at night? Does everyone leave the fire going all night long while they're in bed sleeping? I don't get it...sorry. I mean if one had a fireplace in their bedroom I'd get it but no one out here does.

The wood continues to burn even after the flame has died down. If you do it correctly, the wood in the fireplace will continue burning for hours.

Interesting. Thank you.



ILikeShade1354944504.737120 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012

Thanks scottie, neala, kitty, bikerbabe and sunshine.



mgm21354944727.8217850 PostsRegistered 9/15/2012Livin' My Life Like It's Golden
On 12/7/2012 ~foundinlv~ said:
On 12/7/2012 mgm2 said:
On 12/7/2012 ~foundinlv~ said:

What about late at night? Does everyone leave the fire going all night long while they're in bed sleeping? I don't get it...sorry. I mean if one had a fireplace in their bedroom I'd get it but no one out here does.

The wood continues to burn even after the flame has died down. If you do it correctly, the wood in the fireplace will continue burning for hours.

Interesting. Thank you.

..much like what happens in a barbeque grill.

You're welcome

Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine. - Lord Byron


ILikeShade1354944914.2777120 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012

I wish it didn't burn my throat. I went to firepits at the beach when I was a kid and don't remember it hurting my throat. I guess they used the correct wood.



raven-blac­kbird1354946509.3413983 PostsRegistered 1/2/2009California
Oh, I LOVE the smell of burning wood........and leaves...............raven

"Polite conversation is rarely either."
Fran Lebowitz

aubnwa011354946693.476834 PostsRegistered 10/18/2004Cortaro, AZ

When I lived in WA, a lot of my neighbors burned wood in their fireplaces in the winter & it smelled nice. I think most folks burned dried doug fir up there. Down here in the AZ desert, when I smell a wood fire, it's just stinky & acrid! Not sure what they burn here, as my fireplace is natural gas, but it doesn't smell nice at all. It kind of smells more like a grass or trash fire than a wood fire.

"Always Be A Little Kinder Than Necessary"-James M. Barrie

raven-blac­kbird1354946901.813983 PostsRegistered 1/2/2009California
On 12/7/2012 ~foundinlv~ said:

I wish it didn't burn my throat. I went to firepits at the beach when I was a kid and don't remember it hurting my throat. I guess they used the correct wood.

Maybe they are burning green wood...............raven

"Polite conversation is rarely either."
Fran Lebowitz

ILikeShade1354947270.237120 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012

Yes, it must be the green wood..thanks. Next time I see my neighbors I'm going to ask. Won't hurt to ask, right? Hope not anyway...



ILikeShade1354948141.0577120 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012
On 12/8/2012 aubnwa01 said:

When I lived in WA, a lot of my neighbors burned wood in their fireplaces in the winter & it smelled nice. I think most folks burned dried doug fir up there. Down here in the AZ desert, when I smell a wood fire, it's just stinky & acrid! Not sure what they burn here, as my fireplace is natural gas, but it doesn't smell nice at all. It kind of smells more like a grass or trash fire than a wood fire.

Hmmm. I wonder what the law is here about that. Will have to check it out.



MarLoCat1354948282.742478 PostsRegistered 9/30/2012

IMO-Fireplaces Burning wood Smells worse than cigarette smoke.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

ILikeShade1354948431.1377120 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012
On 12/8/2012 MarLoCat said:

IMO-Fireplaces Burning wood Smells worse than cigarette smoke.

Yes! That's been my experience so far too.



raven-blac­kbird1354948484.43313983 PostsRegistered 1/2/2009California

I just checked, I bet they are burning green wood, probably pine, and why your throat is burning is from the creosote you're inhalling from the green wood smoke.............................raven

"Polite conversation is rarely either."
Fran Lebowitz

ILikeShade1354948682.317120 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012

Thanks bbr. I guess it doesn't bother the people who are burning it which I find really surprising but will ask them when I see them.



momtodogs1354972333.8833678 PostsRegistered 9/20/2006

I also loe the smell of burning firewood and leaves. We replaced our woodburning fireplace with gas many years ago, I don't miss the mess but I do miss the smell. Sorry that it bothers you......

happy hous­ewife1354973017.2431103 PostsRegistered 1/4/2007

I also love the smell of burning wood. Just feels like home. Especially cherry wood. When I was a child our farm had an ancient cherry orchard on it - the trees were way old , half dead and did not produce significant fruit so my Dad cut them and used to burn the wood in our fireplace. It smelled so delicious.

When faced with senseless drama, spiteful criticism or misguided opinions walking away is the best way to defend yourself.To respond with anger is an endorsement of their attitude. -Dodinsky

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