Smoke, Ash and Fumes

Smoking woodheaters can produce two or three times as much fine particulate pollution as cars.

Woodsmoke also contains noxious gases like carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and a range of organic compounds (some toxic).

Here are some steps to help reduce the pollution levels of woodsmoke:

  • Burn only dry aged hardwood – unseasoned wood contains moisture and smokes
  • Store firewood in a covered stack with plenty of air access
  • Don’t let the fire smoulder overnight – keep enough air to maintain a flame
  • Never burn rubbish, driftwood or painted or treated wood – they can produce poisonous gases
  • When lighting a cold fire use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good fire quickly
  • Use several small logs rather than one large one and stack them loosely so the air can circulate
  • Keep the flame lively and bright – the fire should only smoke when you first light it. Open the air controls fully for five minutes before and 15 – 20 minutes after reloading the heater
  • Keep an eye on your chimney to make sure it is not smoking
  • Heaters and flues should be cleaned regularly to keep a good air flow.

Buying a woodheater

There are standards relating to the purchase and installation of woodheaters.

If you are buying a new woodheater, it is important to make sure it has a compliance plate meeting the Australian standard (AS/NZS 4013:1999).

You also need to get approval from Council to install a solid fuel heating appliance under the NSW Local Government Act 1993.

Backyard burning

Burning wood, vegetation and rubbish in open fires and incinerators can cause smoke, which is a major cause of air pollution. In the Newcastle Council area there are only certain situations where fires can be lit. These are for recreational purposes such as BBQs or camping.


If you have a complaint about smoke, ash and fumes contact Council's Customer Enquiry Centre on 02 4974 2000.

When investigating complaints about smoke, ash and fumes, the Council considers:

  • The amount of smoke being emitted
  • How long the smoke is emitted for, and the smoke's characteristics and qualities
  • The sensitivity of the environment into which the smoke is being emitted and the impact that it has had or may have
  • The views of any other neighbours or complainants.