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Thread: How to reduce visible smoke from a fireplace or wood shove?

  1. #1
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    How to reduce visible smoke from a fireplace or wood shove?

    I was wondering if anyone has used or has heard of a method for reducing smoke from a fireplace or wood burning stove to minimize your detectable presence in an area.

    I understand a small ember fire produces less smoke but sometimes in sub freezing weather larger fires are called for and have a greater chance to expose your position to others.

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    Catylitic converter.
    Last edited by Heavy Metal; 09-26-11 at 16:13.
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    Tagging for interest
    "Intelligence is not the ability to regurgitate information. It is the ability to make sound decisions on a consistent basis "--me

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heavy Metal View Post
    Catylitic converter.
    How do you use it?

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    Same way your car does.. But I don't think it will reduce smoke.. Especially in a cold weather environment

    Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk

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    Don't burn stuff that's wet.
    Don't burn tires or other petroleum/rubber products.
    Don't burn your vanquished enemies.

    Aside from that, if you are really trying not to be detected your best bet is to use a flameless ration heater. This is followed fairly closely by using an isobutane/propane stove, since it doesn't smoke unless you burn your food to the point it is unfit for consumption. Alcohol stoves are another good option, as they burn cleanly, although I prefer isobutane/propane personally.

    If you must build a fire, night time is really your best bet. It needs to be an "Indian fire"- just big enough to cook and heat with, and nothing more. Conceal it with a fire wall, if you can build one in short time, or among thick trees. Your smoke won't be visible at night like it is during the day, so you only have to control the illumination which on the ground where you have a much better ability to control it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grr-usmc View Post
    But I don't think it will reduce smoke..
    Yes, it will reduce smoke. Smoke is simply an unburned gas, so if you burn that gas, you won't have any smoke...

    The fact is that smoke will burn, if it is ignited properly, so if you use a catalytic converter in your stove, the smoke (unburned gases) will burn (and leave you with little to no smoke.)

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    Interesting topic. Something I acctually hadn't thought of until you mentioned it.

    One possible option might be to change the chimney/stack head out to something that has more bends or angels to it. I have a one on mine that is designed for use in high wind areas that does seem to help but doesn't eliminate it completely.

    My other concern would also be the fact that you would still be able to smell the smoke.

    Just my 2cts.
    "Deploy yourself. Strike hard. Try everything."-Warren Bennis

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    Quote Originally Posted by lamarbrog View Post
    If you must build a fire, night time is really your best bet. It needs to be an "Indian fire"- just big enough to cook and heat with, and nothing more. Conceal it with a fire wall, if you can build one in short time, or among thick trees. Your smoke won't be visible at night like it is during the day, so you only have to control the illumination which on the ground where you have a much better ability to control it.
    One way to limit the illumination is dig a small elongate hole, insulate bottom and sides with sticks, stones... build you fire inside.
    Make the elongate side face the wind.

    Make your fire on the base of a big tree, the branches and leaves will spread the smoke.

    Different fire building techniques give differing degrees of light/smoke.

    The teepee or piramid gives more light. The star gives less light and smoke, but depends on thick logs. Lots of red-hot stuff, excelent for cooking and warmth. Low wood consumption.

    Look at the the old boy scout books.

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    OP-

    I have heated with wood for 15 years or so with a few different stoves, may I offer my(somewhat) educated opinion.

    Given your initial fireplace/woodstove criteria there is plenty you can do to both prepare and practice at your home. Assuming that you are someplace in the northern half of the country the main purpose of this would be for winter heat which your practice can serve you some cost effective heat before any SHTF scenario.

    As previously mentioned a woodstove with a catalytic is a good place to start, but will not automatically give you a smokeless fire. The particular fuel used, and how you manage the fire, matter just as much as your stove selection.

    Smoke is almost unavoidable during start-up as you build the fire and get the stove, stovepipe/chimney up to temperature but with some practice and good temperature control a good, hot fire will yield a fairly complete burn with little to no smoke and little odor.
    Good seasoned(dry) hardwoods are key to this although biobricks(basically giant wood pellets) also burn well and store somewhat more compactly(little more than 2x the density of cordwood).

    A stove with a cat converter is not necessarily the only answer as there are a few good woodstove manufacturers that offer extremely efficient airtight stoves that introduce air to effectively do a secondary burn before the gasses exit up the pipe.

    As with everything there is a price to be paid for any decent stove, but those at M4c may accept that better than most...
    Last edited by chasetopher; 09-26-11 at 20:14.

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    The only way to reduce it is to make sure your chimney height is correct for your installation (proper draft), your stove or fireplace has sufficient air for good combustion AND well seasoned proper wood.

    Some woods burn with more smoke than others, dry seasoned wood with a low moisture content is the best.

    From a survival standpoint, you don't want any undesirables to "see" your smoke, but one thing to keep in mind whether anyone sees it, they WILL smell it, and there are other things to consider.

    Bad guy #1, "Those houses look abandoned, lets move on."

    Bad guy #2, "I am not so sure...I think I caught a whif of wood smoke....Yep, look right there at the 3rd house, all the other roofs have snow all over, that one has a big bare dry spot a couple of feet around the chimney, someones home....mount up!"

    Smoke is one thing....there are other variables unfortunatly.
    "Disperse you rebels!, Damn You! Throw down your arms and Disperse!"....British Major Pitcairn at Lexington, April 19th 1775

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    Good epa or catalytic stove, properly seasoned wood, proper draft, and appropriate burn temp. I ran an englander nc-30 at about 600 stovetop, 21" of triple wall chimney 6 feet above the peak of my roof and about 6 feet out (this exceeded building code and provided great draft), and burned well seasoned (1+ years) wood. Other then the smell, having a clear roof, and having tons of split wood on my property, you would have never known I heated with wood.
    Acta Non Verba

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    I have a bit of an alternative method to submit:

    A Russian (or Finn if you prefer) Stove also referred to as a masonry heater.

    Essentially it is a large wood stove that relies upon thermal mass to heat a structure. Essentially a small combustion chamber is attached to a complicated set of ductwork that runs through a brick, stone, concrete or other medium heating it. This makes it slow to warm but also slow to cool. So two burns per-day will more that adequately heat a home with a centrally located stove.

    Due to its flue design I am told that it greatly reduces both smoke and particulate matter coming from the chimney.

    It's also far more efficient; 1-3 max full burns a day in the dead of winter is supposed to provide plenty of heat.

    Unfortunately I am told that they are usually very expensive (10K ‘ish), require a substantial foundation to support all of the weight, and typically require a gifted mason w/ some experience in building these though I have also read of amateurs having success with the concept as well.

    Caveat emptor- I am a fan of the concept. I have never actually seen one or used one myself. I hope to change that in the near future! (moving up north soon!)

    So that’s my solution. Better tactically, for the wallet, the back, and the environment. Seems like a good choice to me. I’d be curious to know what you all think of this &/or if any of you have experience with the design.
    I like this book. it raises the functional to artistic and esthetically pleasing.

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    Was looking at anthracite coal and its pricing per ton is cheap so I will try a few 50lb sacks and compare its smoke output from my stove. It wont be until the end of Oct. when I head up to the camp to do some archery hunting.

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    Just make sure you can burn coal in your stove. Typically, you can't burn coal in a wood stove effectively.
    Acta Non Verba

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    Quote Originally Posted by lethal dose View Post
    Just make sure you can burn coal in your stove. Typically, you can't burn coal in a wood stove effectively.
    This. For both efficiency and safety sake.

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    Pictorial...

    Abou the Dakota fire pit, that was alluded in the previous message.

    While I too have known it for a long time, I never build it because of time constrains, as noted in the survival blog article.

    Most of my camping trips as a scout were weekend only, so we usually resoterd to the trench method.

    http://www.survivaltopics.com/surviv...kota-fire-hole

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    BBQ'ing this weekend and once again was amazed by the lack of smell and smoke produced by regular BBQ Charcoal. Now I can see a real tactical advantage to using BBQ charcoal during a SHTF event over wood but I did see a few draw backs that would limit it use.

    First BBQ charcoal burns fast and the average burn time of 25 briquet's at a temperature capable of boiling water was 22 minutes and provided radiant heat for another 30 minutes after the boiling stopped. But one would need some tonnage to make it thur a winter and proper storage conditions are called for as water can damage the charcoal.

    As I posted before I purchased numerous 16.6lb bags of Range Master BBQ Charcoal when it was on clearance at Aldi's last year and added to my stock this year when the price was once again reduced at the end of the season to move the inventory. I estimate my stock would last only two weeks in a real cold snap and up to two months during warmer times.

    I have to sample different types of coal to see if any come close to the smokeless/odorless characteristics of BBQ Charcoal with a better resistance to weather.
    We are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others, by their acts.

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    The big problem with trying to avoid detection is the odor. As others have stated there is not much you can do to prevent the odor.

    As far as coal goes, I use a coal boiler from Nov-April to heat the house (using radiant floor heat, and hot water operated air handlers) and it is great!! I have since recovered the intial cost of the boiler, installation and all of the coal purchased in 3 seasons of using coal vs. oil. I just got 8 tons delivered and I'm in the black this year due to the savings from the price of oil.

    I bough the coal boiler as a supplement to my oil boiler when I built my house, but have since switched to all coal for the fall/winter/early spring season. Coal is a little bit of work but no where near the hassle of wood (which I still keep 6-8 cords ready to go and can use in the same boiler if needed)

    For more info on coal boilers/stoves etc. Check out the NEPA crossroads forum: http://nepacrossroads.com/

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