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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?

formerly foundinlv

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sunshine451354943046.840160 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.

Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind. - author unknown

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


scotttie1354943222.3934870 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!



"Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us!"
--Robert Burns

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......

ILikeShade1354943593.136499 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.

formerly foundinlv

scotttie1354943923.04734870 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.



"Oh wad some power the giftie gie us To see oursel's as others see us!"
--Robert Burns

bikerbabe1354944034.5538341 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


sunshine451354944318.16340160 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.

Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind. - author unknown

ILikeShade1354944426.2136499 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.

formerly foundinlv

ILikeShade1354944504.736499 PostsRegistered 4/20/2012

Thanks scottie, neala, kitty, bikerbabe and sunshine.

formerly foundinlv

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


ILikeShade1354944914.2776499 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.

formerly foundinlv

raven-blac­kbird1354946509.3413709 PostsRegistered 1/2/2009California
Oh, I LOVE the smell of burning wood........and leaves...............raven

"Polite conversation is rarely either."
Fran Lebowitz

aubnwa011354946693.476784 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-blac­kbird1354946901.813709 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

ILikeShade1354947270.236499 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...

formerly foundinlv

ILikeShade1354948141.0576499 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.

formerly foundinlv

MarLoCat1354948282.742364 PostsRegistered 9/30/2012

IMO-Fireplaces Burning wood Smells worse than cigarette smoke.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

ILikeShade1354948431.1376499 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.

formerly foundinlv

raven-blac­kbird1354948484.43313709 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

ILikeShade1354948682.316499 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.

formerly foundinlv

momtodogs1354972333.8833600 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 hous­ewife1354973017.2429994 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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