Everyone loves nestling up to a warm fire on a cold winter day. It’s the first way humans generated heat and it provides lovely ambiance, but it has its drawbacks. Wood smoke isn’t good for our health or the environment because it contains a range of chemicals and gasses like toxic carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and soot. These particles and gasses cause a variety of health issues for people with breathing difficulties, pregnant women, and children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that people with emphysema, asthma, congestive heart failure, angina, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should stay away from the wood smoke. It also contributes to acid rain, smog, and other environmental problems.
One of the most popular wood burning alternatives is wood pellets. This eco-friendly option is made from lumber by-products and sawdust that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. They’re formulated to burn efficiently and release fewer harmful pollutants. If you don’t want to invest in a pellet stove, a fireplace insert designed for pellets can safely handle them.
Another option to reduce wood burning emissions from your fireplace is gas inserts These clean an air-friendly options burn either natural gas or liquid propane. They draw in air for oxygen and channel the smoke outside through a chimney or a vent.
If you have a primary heat source in your home other than the fireplace (furnace), consider using your fireplace as a setting to burn an arrangement of candles. Enjoying it this way could be the healthiest and most efficient method of staying warm while still enjoying the atmosphere and charm from your fireplace.
If these alternatives aren’t for you, remember to periodically get your fireplace checked for leaks, backdrafts, or cracks that could pull smoke and pollution into your home. Sweep the chimney every few years to get rid of any creosote blockages, and make sure a new fireplace or fireplace insert is correctly installed so you can enjoy the warmth while staying healthy this winter season.