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Lame wood stoves give wood burning a bad rap.

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This must be how squirrels feel.

Stash depleted from the long drawn out winter.  Emergency rations.  It’s March and many wood piles are down to the bottom row, dwarfed by the snow pile adjacent.  And just as many people think squirrels are a nuisance, there’s a swell of folks who think that wood burning stoves are a nuisance.

Blame the stoves, and the marketing brochure.

Smoke emitted from lame wood stoves is a nuisance, no question.  We’ve all seen those free standing wood burning steel covered stoves churning out smoke adjacent to homes out in rural areas.  These stoves give wood burning a bad rap.  These stoves are not made (well enough) to burn efficiently.  These stoves give off a lot of smoke.  Neighbors get pissed.  Rightfully so.  Then, there are nervous suburban neighbors, worked up about backyard fire pits.  It used to be that the smell of burning smoke was met with a smile.  Today, unless attending a Girl Scout retreat, smoke from burning wood is met with a scorn.

There oughta be a law!

Many municipalities are passing ordinances against wood burning stoves and fire pits.  This groundswell has boiled up to the federal level, and many rural municipalities are fighting back.

Fire good.

Folks have been burning wood as a heat source for centuries.  MIkkel Aaland, author of the iconic book Sweat, proposes that man’s ability to harness fire is Man’s most valuable discovery.  And whether for a wood burning sauna, fireplace, wood burning stove in the house, the beauty of burning wood is that it is a renewable, sustainable heat source.  Trees are “essential for life as we know it.”  They take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen.  And if this gift in’t enough, when harvested, the wood from trees are, arguably next to geothermal, our best, cleanest heat source.  The caveat to this claim is the use of an efficient wood burning stove.

Man f**ed up the equation with lame wood burning stoves.

Call it ignorance, lazy, or strive for an extra buck, but the free standing metal wood hogs and many other wood stoves are not made to burn clean, ie smokeless.  We have the technology to produce “green”, smokeless wood burning stoves.  And many are doing this.  What’s better is that 60% of the heating value from wood is contained in gases produced by pyrolysis (burning).

So, when the smoke clears:

  1. Federal legislation will clamp down on lame ass wood burning stoves.
  2. People will become more educated and embrace wood burning as an excellent heat source.
  3. Efficient wood stove manufacturers will prosper.
  4. Wood piles will deplete 60% slower.
  5. More will understand how one can take a great sauna with just an armful of firewood.


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