How to make smoke with fire

As previously mentioned (once or erm, twice) I need cowls for the chimneys to stop the birds nesting in there again in the spring.  I’ve only two fireplaces but there are three chimney pots (the bedroom fireplace has been blocked up).  Even picking the most affordable chimney cowls, getting three cowls was going to be over £42 and, well I’m far too tight for that.  So I needed to work out which pot corresponded with which fireplace – so I could get away with buying two.  There’s one big (tall) pot which I’m fairly sure is the range, as the chimney sweep commented that it had really good draw and I’m pretty sure that his pole was poking out of that pot as I walked up the path (I nipped out while he was here).  The other two pots are much smaller, so small in fact you can’t see them from the garden – you have to go to the carpark on the other side of the river.  The chimney sweep said that there was a bit of a down draft in the living room fireplace so he didn’t light it.

So what I needed to do was light a smoky fire in a fireplace with downdraft and then get to a place where I could see which chimney was smoking.  Easier said than done.

I first attempted it yesterday while waiting for the guy from Forestry.  I put a bit of paper in the grate and lit it, went outside – couldn’t see a thing.

So today I was clearing the leaves in the garden and I filled a bucket with some nice dry ones and some slightly less dry ones.  Then loaded up the fire

fire leaves

The photo is of my first tentative attempt – nothing like lighting a fire in your house for the first time and then almost immediately bombing it out of the front door, down the path, out the gate, over the road, across the footbridge, across the road, around cars, trying to find a spot between the trees on the river bank where you can see the chimney pots.  There was definitely smoke, it was a pretty similar colour to the overcast sky and it was getting whipped around in the wind a lot.  Could have been coming from either of the two smaller pots – then it stopped as the leaves had burnt out.

Take 2 – repeat process, only this time I didn’t wait for it to catch properly before running out the door.  School boy error, it didn’t catch and there was no smoke.  There was, however, an old lady and her dog who stood to one side as I was running over the foot bridge (in my boiler suit and red wellies with camera in hand), of course I felt the need to explain what I was doing as I ran past and shouted something along the lines of “need to see which chimney is smoking”. To which she just smiled politely, so either a) she didn’t hear what I said b) she immediately understood what I was doing and ascertained likely reasons for it c) smiling politely is the only cause of action when confronted with someone behaving in such a fashion d) she’s currently pondering the meaning of the cryptic message the girl in the red wellies tried to communicate to her.

Take 3 – well, I’d say that was fairly conclusive.

Chimney smoke

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