Smells from wood-burning stoves

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There is nothing nicer than the smell of a wood-burning stove in use, particularly if you’re burning a particularly fragrant wood.

But if your stove starts producing unusual or unpleasant smells it an become a bit disconcerting.

In this article, we will seek to pick out some of the more common unusual woodburner smells to help you to diagnose that pong and determine whether or not it is something you ought to be worrying about.

Egg smell from woodburner
If your stove is producing an eggy smell, that could be due to the sulphurous content of whatever you are burning. For instance, some coals contain relatively high levels of sulphur. This smell might be particularly obvious when you’re clearing out the ashes.

Chemical or paint smell from woodburner
A chemical smell from your wood-burning stove is normal when the appliance is new. This is because the stove paint still needs to cure. Curing is when liquids within the paint start to evaporate when the stove is first heated to the extreme temperatures required for a wood-burning stove. This causes the chemical structure of the paint to change, leaving just the desired finish on the stove, but also creating a paint smell. This smell should go away after the stove has been used three or four times.

If a chemical smell continues beyond that, it could be that something – most likely paint or oil – is burning off further up the stove and flue system.

If you’re burning treated wood, which is not a good idea, that is another possible cause of a chemical smell.

Smoke smell from woodburner
Given that a wood-burning stove involves burning fuel, a degree of smoke smell is inevitable. If you feel the smell is getting stronger or is seeping further into your home it could be indicative of a problem. It could mean that your chimney needs to be swept, that there is a leak in the flue or chimney, or that there is a problem with the draw, which could be caused by conditions outside your home or by a lack of ventilation within your home.

Soot smell from woodburner
As with a smoke smell, a smell of soot from your woodburner could indicate a need to have your chimney swept. It might also suggest that the wood you’re burning is not sufficiently seasoned and has a high moisture content. The soot smell is indicative of a creosote build-up in your chimney.

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2 thoughts on “Smells from wood-burning stoves

  1. Had quite an obscure issue with a strange smell emanating from my burner. Worked out it was the wood i had been storing in my garage. Despite being top notch kiln dried wood, over time it had been gradually soaking up residual exhaust fumes from my bike as it cooled down from the daily ride. Fresh batch of wood (stored elsewhere) and all is normal again.

    • Thank you so much. We have had the same problem. Only started a few days ago. We thought it was the newly installed Christmas tree so that is presently sat in the garden in the snow!
      Makes total sense
      We store logs in the garage and the bottom section of the stack rarely gets used as we refill the store with fresh logs. But the logs we are using presently are from the bottom of the stack.
      We have the car and a motorbike in the garage.
      Also worth noting is that we have ash, kiln dried logs.
      You’re a life saver. With Christmas coming and lots of relatives visiting we were starting to panic. Cheers and Merry Christmas x

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