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Fire pit pros and cons?

 
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I'm madly in love with fire pits. My wife hates the idea, though, because she says soot everywhere on the walls.  

I remember playing a video game that had fire pits, and ever since I've wondered how it would be to have an open fire right in the middle of the room. The dirtiness issue is a valid concern, though. There's also an efficiency issue that someone will inevitably raise, but I don't care! It's awesome!



How might I mitigate or entirely avert the concerns my wife might have?

Also, how did these ancient peoples have fire pits in their homes without being asphyxiated? How might this be an option in a WOFATI-type home?

Thanks!
 
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Put a hood over it?
example.JPG
[Thumbnail for example.JPG]
 
gardener
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Pit houses had a fire in the center with a pole ladder going out the smoke hole.  Having a hole in the roof aided the smoke and carbon monoxide to exit the structure. A lower intake for air would help this out, but I'm not sure if one was made.  In a tipi, secondary air is available from under the edges of the outer ring bottom.  This allowed for a better draw, and for the smoke to rise.  

Open fires tend to be a bit smoky unless they are constructed very well (lots of air in the pile, a source of air allowed to access beneath the coals -or ignition area- small wood burning before adding big wood, et cetera), and having all of the wood as dry as possible.
 
Nathaniel Swasey
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A hole definitely makes sense with the tipi and the pit houses. I remember the museum in my home town had a cross section displayed of the native American homes, and it did have a large hole for a ladder and for smoke to escape.

A hood definitely makes sense too. I don't think the hood would match the vision I have of an indoor fire pit.

I vaguely recall the old English houses had fireplaces in the middle of the rooms, but I think the smoke was allowed to flow into a chamber below the crest of the thatched roof. I don't think that would be compatible with a earth-embanked home with two or three feet of earth above it.

That's as far as my thoughts have gone about the matter. I'm very interested if there are more options, but I'm pretty pessimistic that there might be any options for a near-primitive, underground dwelling at this point. But I'll keep my eyes out and post here if I find anything. I hope other readers would do the same.
 
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Pit houses had a fire in the center with a pole ladder going out the smoke hole.  Having a hole in the roof aided the smoke and carbon monoxide to exit the structure. A lower intake for air would help this out, but I'm not sure if one was made.  In a tipi, secondary air is available from under the edges of the outer ring bottom.  This allowed for a better draw, and for the smoke to rise.  

Open fires tend to be a bit smoky unless they are constructed very well (lots of air in the pile, a source of air allowed to access beneath the coals -or ignition area- small wood burning before adding big wood, et cetera), and having all of the wood as dry as possible.



You said all my things!

Tipi.  Look at tipis.
 
Rob Lineberger
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Nathaniel Swasey wrote:underground dwelling



Your house is underground?  Whoa.  things just got more complicated.  No, I would not recommend that.

Also, tipis definitely get soot.  They burn an cleanly as possible but there's always that initial puff of soot.
 
Brian Holmes
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Nathaniel Swasey wrote:A hood definitely makes sense too. I don't think the hood would match the vision I have of an indoor fire pit.



Any doodles of what you're thinking? Can work from that. I'm a fan of the hood purely from functionality, but get it if you're going for something specific. Saw the comment about being underground, which to me sounds interesting and difficult. Any way you could go with a 3 sided fireplace, where the chimney sticks out into the room but remains attached to one wall? Not perfect photo included.


EDIT: I see your video now (didn't before, for some reason) and get what you're going for. Don't know how to accomplish that, hopefully someone else has more input!
example.JPG
3 sided fireplace
3 sided fireplace
 
pollinator
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Indoor smoke due to cook fires and heating causes an estimated 1.6m deaths per year in developing countries. Indoor smoke is a serious health issue, and doesn’t seem compatible with a healthy home.
 
pollinator
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Michael makes an important point.

When we had a high-efficiency wood stove (which I loved and still miss), there was always a puff of essentially invisible ash every time the door was opened. It found its way everywhere, and this super-fine particulate was certainly not good for healthy indoor air.  

An indoor fireplace, with its much less complete combustion, will be much worse. Additionally, there will be rapid creosote buildup and the attendant fire hazard.

Before you commit to an actual open fire, consider moving your big screen TV and playing one of the many campfire and Christmas fireplace channels.
 
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Hi Douglas,

While everything you say is true, I have no intention of dumping my wood burning fireplace.  Of course, it is not my primary source of heat.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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I don't blame you. There is something about a real fire.
 
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For a bit there I lived in an old Japanese farmhouse with an open hearth kitchen type thing in the center of the building and separate rooms off to the side. While the architecture did vaguely try to funnel the smoke up (it had a super steep peaky roof with a chimney that drew smoke out pretty well), it was sooty as heck, and to be honest nobody had been seriously cooking in the hearth for the previous 40 years at least. It was lovely to be able to light up the fire when you wanted to but in practice..... we almost never did, even when there was a meter of snow on the ground.
 
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