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mousey

Concerns About Wood/anagama Kiln Smoke Vs Neighbors...

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I'm looking to buy a house in the next half a year or so and one of my principle goals is to get a wood firing kiln set up in my back yard.  Nothing fancy mind you, maybe 20-30 square feet.  

 

My concern is smoke output, however.  

 

I'm focusing on properties that sit on at least an acre so there is some buffer between me and neighbors, but is there anything I can do to lessen the quantity of smoke released over a 12-18 hour firing?  I imagine it would be absolutely miserable to live downwind of me during a firing, and possibly a health issue to boot.  I've read about people using 55 gallon drums of water to filter smoke from green wood ovens and such but is that really going to have a measurable impact here?  Could creating a particularly high chimney help?

 

If 1 acre isnt enough to act as a sufficient buffer, how much would be suitable?

 

 

FWIW I'm focusing on properties in the southern Catskills in NY, eg Dutchess County.

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Certain types of kiln smoke more than others. The long slow types like anagama tend to be smokier than faster firing, more efficient designs like a train kiln or a cross draft kiln. In grad school we were required to fire with as little smoke as possible, since the kilns were right in the middle of campus, and it wasn't a problem with the types of kilns I just mentioned, other than during body reduction. Every type of kiln will smoke to some degree, however, so you want to do some good PR work with your neighbors. Invite them to help stoke, let the make some little pots and put them in the firing, provide lots of beer, etc. If done right, it will likely smoke less and be less of an annoyance than burning leaves.

 

On that note, check with local fire codes and building codes before buying a house. Have a conversation with the fire marshall about exactly what you plan to do, and get things in writing.

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Certain types of kiln smoke more than others. The long slow types like anagama tend to be smokier than faster firing, more efficient designs like a train kiln or a cross draft kiln. In grad school we were required to fire with as little smoke as possible, since the kilns were right in the middle of campus, and it wasn't a problem with the types of kilns I just mentioned, other than during body reduction. Every type of kiln will smoke to some degree, however, so you want to do some good PR work with your neighbors. Invite them to help stoke, let the make some little pots and put them in the firing, provide lots of beer, etc. If done right, it will likely smoke less and be less of an annoyance than burning leaves.

 

On that note, check with local fire codes and building codes before buying a house. Have a conversation with the fire marshall about exactly what you plan to do, and get things in writing.

 

 

Brilliant, thanks very much for this.

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i knew a woman who lived in a densely packed neighborhood.  there was a 6 foot wall  around the tiny yard and she put an obvious smoker close to her kiln.  she cooked meat while the kiln fired.  nobody said anything.

Rae Reich, MatthewV, mousey and 1 other like this

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I would imagine that burning dry, seasoned wood would help keep the smoke down. I agree with Neil...check with the local building and fire departments first to make sure that you would be able to build and use the kiln before you buy the property.

I had the opportunity to buy the property next door to me with the plan on farming it. I checked with the local building department and found that the property was zoned for farming, horticulture and farm animals, and that I could sell what I grew on the property without a permit. That closed the deal for me.

Check first. It will save you a lot of headaches and a lot of money, too!

JohnnyK

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Some areas consider kilns to be just like open burning. Others think of them as barbecues. Others consider them an industrial process. It just depends on where you live. Even if they allow the kiln, don't buy anything until you check on what building codes will apply to it, such as location restrictions like boundary setbacks, chimney height, etc. There are lot of potential limitations that may make it difficult or impossible to build. I would have a kiln plan ready to show them, since they probably won't have a clue what you're talking about.

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Guest JBaymore

The anagama that I designed for our college can be fired totally smokeless as well as flameless at the top of the chimney without any active afterburners or any mechanical support systems.  This CAN be done.  It just requires and understanding of combustion theory, a bit of fluid mechanics, and having a budget to support it. 

 

gallery_1543_1143_321911.jpg

 

"Traditional" anagama-style kilns smoke because they are basically old, outdated, and primitive combustion designs from about 900 to 1600 AD.  You do not need that choo-choo smoke to get good results.

 

Just about ANY style of wood kiln can be made to be smokless if you adjust the design parameters.  Note that this does NOT address the particulates in the PM 10 and PM 2.5 and down range.  They are still there.... you just can't see them.

 

best,

 

........................john

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It didnt even occur to me that design could be optimized to significantly cut back on smoke.  Can you suggest any books / online articles on how to optimize a kiln to suppress smoke emission?  

 

 

i knew a woman who lived in a densely packed neighborhood.  there was a 6 foot wall  around the tiny yard and she put an obvious smoker close to her kiln.  she cooked meat while the kiln fired.  nobody said anything.

 

This is brilliant as well.  This is a fairly rural area, lots of hunters there, I'm sure people smoke meat fairly regularly.  

 

Not to mention there is an active pottery scene in/around Woodstock which is pretty close, I believe there are even a few legitimate amagama kilns over there.  I'll check regardless, but what I'm reading here is deeply encouraging.

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No kiln input but re: neighbors: I live in a "medium density" residential block. This means an area one block long by four blocks wide has, a few apartment complexes with maybe 10 units each, but mostly duplexes and triplexes. So rather than a single family on each property there are mostly 2-3. 

 

The people who live in the block of apartments behind our duplex use a grill that is literally five feet from the fence separating our property. Since we are on the coast, there is almost always a breeze coming toward our back fence. So every time they have a party or celebrate a holiday, or it's the weekend, or it's warm, they barbecue and their grill blows smoke straight into our back door and kitchen window for hours. This is especially pleasant because from the smell they use an entire bottle of lighter fluid to start it up. We close up when this happens, obviously. But we just deal with it. 

 

I'm just saying that a properly built, properly researched, properly permitted kiln on an acre should be distinctly more pleasant to live with than that. Also isn't it true that when wood firing you tend to build up a kiln load for several months before doing a huge fire just a few times a year? Again, way better. Especially if you make it a community event as Neal brilliantly suggested. 

mousey likes this

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No kiln input but re: neighbors: I live in a "medium density" residential block. This means an area one block long by four blocks wide has, a few apartment complexes with maybe 10 units each, but mostly duplexes and triplexes. So rather than a single family on each property there are mostly 2-3. 

 

The people who live in the block of apartments behind our duplex use a grill that is literally five feet from the fence separating our property. Since we are on the coast, there is almost always a breeze coming toward our back fence. So every time they have a party or celebrate a holiday, or it's the weekend, or it's warm, they barbecue and their grill blows smoke straight into our back door and kitchen window for hours. This is especially pleasant because from the smell they use an entire bottle of lighter fluid to start it up. We close up when this happens, obviously. But we just deal with it. 

 

I'm just saying that a properly built, properly researched, properly permitted kiln on an acre should be distinctly more pleasant to live with than that. Also isn't it true that when wood firing you tend to build up a kiln load for several months before doing a huge fire just a few times a year? Again, way better. Especially if you make it a community event as Neal brilliantly suggested. 

 

 

Excellent points, all of them.  I'm really committed to erring on the side of caution here because honestly I have no first person experience with wood burning kilns beyond the videos Ive devoured on youtube, and those videos show geysers of acrid black smoke and flame shooting into the sky for days at a time.  Granted the kilns being fired are probably 10x the size of anything I would be attempting but its an image that gives me pause regardless.

 

RE the community angle... sadly, there is a lot of meth / opioid abuse in these areas.  I'll look for a opportunities to build bridges but .. with an abundance of caution. 

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Hi Bruce,

It's funny seeing that first link you posted. I've got a pot a friend made that was fired in that exact kiln in the article.  Firing took a bit over 24 hours.

post-747-0-84716400-1476500758_thumb.jpg

post-747-0-84716400-1476500758_thumb.jpg

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The anagama that I designed for our college can be fired totally smokeless as well as flameless at the top of the chimney without any active afterburners or any mechanical support systems.  This CAN be done.  It just requires and understanding of combustion theory, a bit of fluid mechanics, and having a budget to support it. 

 

gallery_1543_1143_321911.jpg

 

"Traditional" anagama-style kilns smoke because they are basically old, outdated, and primitive combustion designs from about 900 to 1600 AD.  You do not need that choo-choo smoke to get good results.

 

Just about ANY style of wood kiln can be made to be smokless if you adjust the design parameters.  Note that this does NOT address the particulates in the PM 10 and PM 2.5 and down range.  They are still there.... you just can't see them.

 

best,

 

........................john

 

Hi John,

 

   Do you have any suggested books/articles on this? I'm looking at the links listed below by bciskepottery but all information is helpful.  I'm thinking of building a kiln at some point and I'm terribly interested in learning more about the design process.   I'll talk to the local fire department to see what restrictions are in place.

 

Thanks

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Have you ever seen the wind kiln (kazegama) ? I know you said you wanted wood, but the wind kiln looks amazing and is what I hope to learn more about and build later on in life. Since your concerned about the smoke and stuff, I just thought I would put it here. The main thing I like about it is that he can solo fire it with ease in a short duration and the results are controlled via how much ash he loads into it. The pots look beautiful.

 

Since 1995, I have been pursuing a wood fired aesthetic in my ceramic work. I live in an urban area of Southern California where it is difficult to fire with wood because of the smoke and fire dangers. In 1997, I set out to build an alternative kiln that would yield anagama results in a gas fired kiln without the use of wood. 

 

 

http://www.kazegamas.com/kazegama.htm

 

https://kazegama.com/gallery/

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Guest JBaymore

 

The anagama that I designed for our college can be fired totally smokeless as well as flameless at the top of the chimney without any active afterburners or any mechanical support systems.  This CAN be done.  It just requires and understanding of combustion theory, a bit of fluid mechanics, and having a budget to support it. 

 

gallery_1543_1143_321911.jpg

 

"Traditional" anagama-style kilns smoke because they are basically old, outdated, and primitive combustion designs from about 900 to 1600 AD.  You do not need that choo-choo smoke to get good results.

 

Just about ANY style of wood kiln can be made to be smokless if you adjust the design parameters.  Note that this does NOT address the particulates in the PM 10 and PM 2.5 and down range.  They are still there.... you just can't see them.

 

best,

 

........................john

 

Hi John,

 

   Do you have any suggested books/articles on this? I'm looking at the links listed below by bciskepottery but all information is helpful.  I'm thinking of building a kiln at some point and I'm terribly interested in learning more about the design process.   I'll talk to the local fire department to see what restrictions are in place.

 

Thanks

 

 

 

I just got back from England last night.  Was presenting / showing/ attending a ceramics symposium. I'm exhausted and jetlaged.

 

I'm doing a lecture at the NCECA conference on this subject in the spring.  Will you be there?

 

best,

 

................john

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The anagama that I designed for our college can be fired totally smokeless as well as flameless at the top of the chimney without any active afterburners or any mechanical support systems.  This CAN be done.  It just requires and understanding of combustion theory, a bit of fluid mechanics, and having a budget to support it. 

 

gallery_1543_1143_321911.jpg

 

"Traditional" anagama-style kilns smoke because they are basically old, outdated, and primitive combustion designs from about 900 to 1600 AD.  You do not need that choo-choo smoke to get good results.

 

Just about ANY style of wood kiln can be made to be smokless if you adjust the design parameters.  Note that this does NOT address the particulates in the PM 10 and PM 2.5 and down range.  They are still there.... you just can't see them.

 

best,

 

........................john

 

Hi John,

 

   Do you have any suggested books/articles on this? I'm looking at the links listed below by bciskepottery but all information is helpful.  I'm thinking of building a kiln at some point and I'm terribly interested in learning more about the design process.   I'll talk to the local fire department to see what restrictions are in place.

 

Thanks

 

 

 

I just got back from England last night.  Was presenting / showing/ attending a ceramics symposium. I'm exhausted and jetlaged.

 

I'm doing a lecture at the NCECA conference on this subject in the spring.  Will you be there?

 

best,

 

................john

 

 Not as of now although I wouldn't rule it out indefinitely.  I may be able to convince my wife to take a pottery vacation with me :)

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