How to Burn Your Stove Cleanly

Smoke from wood stoves is the primary source of winter particulate air pollution in Lewis and Clark County. How you burn your wood stove affects how much pollution it produces.

  • Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood. This reduces particulate and carbon monoxide emissions and produces more heat.
  • Start your fire with small, dry kindling to establish a hot flame. Gradually add wood of 4-5 inches in diameter to maintain a hot, clean fire.
  • Keep the damper open enough to maintain a clean, hot fire. Smoldering fires cause 6 times more pollution than hot, clean fires.
  • Don't pack too many logs in your stove. Smaller, hotter fires are more efficient and less polluting.
  • Check for creosote buildup. A clean chimney increases wood-burning efficiency and reduces the chance of dangerous chimney fires.
  • Avoid burning during warm weather. Burning when the outside temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit requires constant dampening, increasing emissions.
  • Go outside and check your chimney for smoke. About 15 minutes after you start your fire, you should see very little smoke coming from the chimney.
  • Check local air quality daily. Be sure to follow health department advisories and restrict burning when warnings are issued.

Why Bother?

When you burn a hot, smokeless fire in your wood stove, you:

  • Improve air quality in your home and outdoors;
  • Reduce the creosote that builds up in your chimney and so reduce the fire hazard;
  • Use less wood, saving time and money; and
  • Help to protect your health and that of your family, friends, and neighbors.