Summer is upon us in beautiful B.C. and that has spurred me to think about air quality. The Fraser Valley air quality plummets when the heat wave of summer hits us. This is partly due to the high pressure fronts (and with them less wind) but also the summer travellers and the campfires that everyone enjoys.
There are ways to lessen the impact that campfires have on our air quality and as a WETT Technician I’d like to share a few tidbits that will help you burn your campfires in the most efficient way. And as an added bonus, these tidbits can also be used for your winter fireplace burning.
Fact: A properly burning fire has very little smoke.
Smoke is actually water vapour and a complex mix of hydrocarbon compounds. The hydrocarbon compounds are actually liquid tar droplets and combustible gases. With enough oxygen and a high enough temperature these hydrocarbon compounds will decompose into gases and carbon deposits, making for a very clean burning fire.
The choice of firewood is the most important factor in making a clean burning fire.
• You want to choose a hardwood as this will give the best coals to burn hot.
• You want to use only well-seasoned firewood as you don’t want to waste heat vaporising the water molecules.
The next factor is starting a hot fire that can maintain the necessary temperature for complete combustion.
• Start your fire with finely chopped kindling and 10-12 pieces of newspaper. Stack the kindling so that when the paper is burned up the kindling doesn’t collapse and smother itself.
• Chop your wood into manageable sized pieces. If your logs are too big they will not ignite quickly, smaller pieces have more surface area and will catch fire much faster and burn hotter.
• Stoke your fire with 2 pieces of wood and stack them so that there is plenty of air space between the existing logs and the new ones. This will allow the necessary oxygen for the ignition and burning process.
By following these simple guidelines you can do your part to keep our air clean even while enjoying an outdoor fire.
Stonegate Home Inspections offers WETT Level I inspections in Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Port Moody (as well as the rest of the G.V.R.D.). Please feel free to contact us and request a free quote if you require a WETT inspection for any wood burning appliances you may have.