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Wood smoke
What is Wood Smoke?
Wood smoke from chimney
Wood smoke is often seen as a brown atmospheric haze in the atmosphere on still, cool, winter mornings. Wood smoke is a significant source of particle pollution and it can cause health concerns in our local community.

Smoke from wood heaters is a major cause of air pollution. In fact, during winter, wood heaters can produce up to seven times as much particle pollution as cars.

Wood smoke contains a number of noxious gases(including carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and a range of organic compounds, some of which are toxic or carcinogenic and fine particles, which may go deep into the lungs.

While many families use a wood heater to stay warm during the winter months, there are a number of simple actions that your family can do to operate your wood heater effectively and reduce wood smoke in the Singleton area.

Wood Heaters
warming feet in front of fire
Stay warm, breathe
easy this winter
Wood heaters can be a convenient and economical way to heat your home. However, excessive smoke from wood heaters that aren't correctly installed and operated is a major contributor to air pollution. This pollution can be seen as a brown haze during winter. Wood smoke contains harmful particles and toxic gases.

You can minimise air pollution by:
  • Always burning small logs of aged, dry hardwood – unseasoned wood has more moisture which makes a heater smoke;
  • Storing wood under cover in a dry ventilated area; freshly cut wood needs to be stored for 8-12 months;
  • Never burning rubbish, driftwood or treated or painted wood, which can pollute the air and can be poisonous;
  • Using plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly when lighting a cold fire;
  • Stacking wood loosely in your firebox so air can circulate – don’t cram the firebox full;
  • Keeping the flame lively and bright; your fire should only smoke for a few minutes when you first light it and when you add extra fuel;
  • Opening the air controls fully for five minutes before and 15-20 minutes after reloading;
  • Not letting your heater smoulder overnight – keep enough air in the fire to maintain a flame;
  • Checking your chimney regularly – if there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire; and
  • Cleaning the chimney every year to prevent creosote build-up. Creosote is a sticky black residue that can build up in your chimney — it restricts air flow and makes your fire harder to start. A creosote-clogged chimney can spill smoke into your room when you open the heater, and even catch fire, putting your home at risk.

More information about wood smoke can be obtained from the NSW EPA www.epa.nsw.gov.au/woodsmoke

Reporting Smoky Chimneys
If a neighbour's chimney is producing excess smoke and causing you discomfort, you can contact Council on (02) 6578 7290. Council uses education as the primary tool to address complaints, however, Council also has certain powers under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act (1997).

Singleton Council
PO Box 314 Singleton NSW 2330
Ph: 02 6578 7290