With regard to the wood-burning ordinance, the Davis City Council did right to include an exemption for residents who use efficient wood stoves that don’t emanate visible smoke. It would not surprise me if some fires emit 1,000 times more smoke than others. Given that we no longer live in an age where the art of maintaining a fire is common knowledge, some basic public education should go along with this. Even an efficient wood stove can spew smoke if you don’t know what you’re doing.
For those who burn, the key is to get it “up to temperature,” meaning about 450 degrees. A wood stove thermometer is useful to inform your fire management. Use only very dry, split wood. “Green” wood smolders. Build your fire from kindling quickly and add wood as it grows; don’t start with a big log. It will smoke during this early stage, which lasts about 15 minutes (thus, it’s best to avoid “Don’t Light” nights).
However, once burning well at high temperature, it should essentially burn its own smoke and produce nothing but heat waves from your chimney. When you want to let the fire burn out, give it full air so that burns down to hot coals and does not leave un-burnt smoldering wood, which also can produce a lot of smoke.
It’s amazing how much good fire management can reduce smoke, and how much smoke can be produced by poor fire management.