How to Stop a Wood Burning Stove from Smoking

Every owner should know how to stop a wood burning stove from smoking.

When you have a wood burning stove, the smoke should always rise up, through the flue, and out of the chimney. But, what happens when the smoke stays in the furnace, or even worse spreads into your home?

With any form of smoke there’s a risk of smoke sickness and even if that doesn’t happen a smoking stove is still an indication of an ineffective fire.

We’ll look at the key reasons reasons why your wood stove might smoke and how you can solve the issue.

How to Stop a Wood Burning Stove from Smoking

1. Use Dry Wood

Your first problem might be that the wood you’re using is too wet- or moist, as some people might say.

For wet wood to burn, the fire will first need to burn through the remaining moisture, and this creates steam, which mixes with the other chemicals to create smoke. You’ll even see this if you throw damp wood onto an outdoor fire pit.

The ideal burning wood will be dried and contain no more than 20% water content.

If your wood is dark at the end, has no green on it, and you can peel the bark off, that’s a sign that it’s suitable for burning.

If it’s still light in color, you can see lots of green, and the bark is fused to the wood like a skin, you’ll need to let it dry further.

2. Make sure the stove and wood isn’t too cold

Your second issue may be that your stove or wood might be too cold.

If you keep your wood in a cold outdoor shed, to burn it you’ll need to first bring it up to temperature. Colder wood burns less efficiently so make sure to bring it into your warm house before you put it on the fire. (This is why people generally have a stack or bucket of logs beside the fire, not just because it looks nice.)

A cold stove can also be an issue. As you may remember from chemistry in high school, cold air sinks while hot air rises. If the cold air pushes down, waste gasses can’t leave. They hover about and cause the wood burner to smoke.

The solution is simply to leave the door open for an hour before you start burning – to bring the stove up to or closer to room temperature.

3. Have a draft from the chimney

A good stove should have a good draft supply.

Without that draft, your flue will be unable to draw the smoke up and pull it out of the chimney. No draft means no airflow, so the fresh oxygen-rich air from outside cannot replace the dense air within the stove.

The solution is simply to burn some newspaper before beginning your actual fire. This will cause the air in the flue to heat up and create a better draft flow.

4. Start it properly

Starting a fire correctly is vital when combating a smoking stove.

The goal should be to bring it up to temperature as fast as possible. A slow burn is more likely to result in smoke. There are countless ways to light a stove, but one method is to create a # symbol using logs and cover that with kindling and newspaper.

Leave the door open until you have your fire going to let oxygen in. Only close it when you see a flame.

5. Open the Vents

Wood, like every fire fuel source, needs oxygen to burn.

If the vents are closed, your stove will not have the required oxygen level and inefficient combustion conditions.

If your stove only has one vent, don’t close it until you see that it some sizeable flames have developed. Even then, don’t close it all the way because you’ll still need some oxygen to keep it hot.

If you have two vents- a primary and secondary- the secondary vent controls the size of the fire and prevents smoke. Make sure you don’t close this one all the way.

6. Make it big enough

If your fire is too small, your stove won’t get up to an appropriate temperature.

If it’s not at a high enough temperature, this will create a slow burn which in turn is more likely to produce smoke. At lower temperatures, the wood creates a chemical called creosote.

The solution is to create the right size of fire for your stove. If you only have a small stove, you need a small fire. But a larger stove will require a larger fire.

Make sure to pack your stove with enough wood and paper to get the size of fire you need. Small fires cause more smoke than larger fires.

7. Don’t have an airtight room

The final reason your stove is smoking is that the room is airtight.

When air leaves through the chimney, it needs to be replaced. Yes, some of this will come from the chimney that leads outside. But much of it will go in through the vents and come naturally from your home.

You will want to make sure the air that comes in via the vents is full of fresh oxygen. A stove in a room that’s too airtight might smoke because it doesn’t get enough fresh oxygen.

To solve this problem, open the windows slightly, open a door or open room vents if you have them. Did you know that 2/3rd of US houses have some kind of air vent in each room3?

This might seem like overkill but a smoking wood stove can be annoying or even dangerous at certain levels. Work through each of the steps above and you should be able to solve the problem quickly and easily.

We hope this helps and for everything else home heating, stick with