Among the Native Americans, smoke signals were used to warn people about dangerous situations that can threaten the entire community. A person would go to a hill with damp grass, start a fire, and a column of smoke will rise. Smoke signals are still used today as survival techniques or as skills for a Scout’s Merit Badge, but the sight – and smell – of smoke are still used as signs.
While you won’t end up with a large column of smoke in your home, smoke smells are still quite irritating and even dangerous. The strong and powerful smell of smoke is annoying, but it can also be a sign of grave danger. You may take the occasional smell of smoke for granted, but you never know when there’s a gas leak or a short-circuited electrical fire somewhere in your home. Smoke smells are also very irritating especially for people with a sensitive sense of smell. Here are some ways to remove smoke smells from your home, and keep it smelling fresh and staying safe.
Make Sure Air Circulates
As a gaseous substance, smoke needs to circulate in order to dissipate. The longer you allow smoke to linger inside a room or an enclosed space, the more the smoke “ages” and undergoes chemical changes that can potentially turn it into a health hazard. Here are some dangers of smoke that you should be very aware of:
- Choking hazard. A room filled with smoke, or a room that always smells of smoke, can suffocate children or people with a sensitive sense of smell.
- Respiratory irritant. Any kind of smoke has chemicals that can irritate the sensitive linings and membranes of the lungs, the nose, and the windpipe. Irritation can cause many diseases, including respiratory tract infections and pneumonia. (Learn how to get rid of pneumonia)
- Carcinogenic. Smoke particles contain many cancer-causing chemicals that can make their way into your body and cause all sorts of tumors. People who inhale or are exposed to large quantities of smoke are more prone to lung cancer and skin cancer.
One of the leading causes of smoky odors is cigarette smoke. Smoke smells from cigarettes are irritating, and they can also be dangerous (Tips on how to quit smoking). Many toxic and carcinogenic substances linger in secondhand smoke, even days after you have smoked in an enclosed space. If you find it difficult to quit smoking and you insist on smoking indoors, you need to take some extra precautions to make sure that secondhand smoke does not linger in your home:
- Set aside a smoking room. One bad habit of many smokers is that they smoke everywhere and anywhere. If you smoke indoors, you should set aside a separate smoking area in your house. Make sure that this area is well-ventilated and away from areas like the kitchen, dining room, or children’s bedrooms.
- Neutralize the odor. Ashtrays full of cigarette butts and cigarette ash can stink up a room in no time. Ashes and embers from tobacco embers have a very strong odor. To prevent residual smoke from stinking up your home, you need to bury your cigarettes in pulverized charcoal or coffee grounds. The charcoal or coffee particles help absorb odors and other toxins that make your home smell bad.
- Deodorize. Just because you have a smoking room does not mean that you can allow it to smell like cigarettes. Secondhand smoke, particularly the kind that lingers in and around your smoking room, undergoes chemical changes and transforms into toxic and potentially life-threatening substances. A deodorizing spray helps to mask the odors and to prevent the potentially fatal chemical reactions from taking place.
Try Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is one of the best odor neutralizers and deodorizers available on the market today. Activated charcoal, also called activated carbon, works through adsorption, where molecules of particles like pollutants accumulate on the surface of matter. Activated charcoal is a very effective deodorizer and odor neutralizer because of its very expansive surface area; just one gram of activated carbon contains 500 square meters, which is 80 square meters more than a full-sized professional basketball court.
The great thing about activated charcoal is that it adsorbs carbon particles very effectively. Smoke is made up of different carbon compounds, with trace amounts of other elements that bond with the smoke particles and accumulate on the surface area of activated charcoal. Activated carbon is used in many air and water purifiers.
Activated charcoal is relatively cheap. You can buy activated carbon from pet shops, industrial supply stores, or wholesale commercial stores. Here’s how you can use activated carbon to deodorize and neutralize smoke odors:
- Place a small amount of pure activated charcoal on moist saucers or ashtrays, and leave them inside a room overnight.
- If you don’t have activated carbon, you can use ordinary pulverized charcoal in place of activated charcoal. Make sure that you crush the charcoal into a fine powder before you place it in moistened saucers or ashtrays.
- If there’s a very rank smell of smoke in a room in your house (like your basement or the garage), buy some bags of ordinary charcoal. Lightly crush the lumps of coal and store the bags at the corners of the room to adsorb the odors of the furnace, the boiler, and vehicle exhaust.
Clean and Wash Thoroughly
There’s no substitute for a thorough cleaning to remove all the particles of soot that have made their way into the walls, ceiling, furniture, and carpeting. Even if you no longer see the haze of smoke, smoke smells will still come from the accumulated particles of soot found in your house. Here are some ways that you can clean out the soot built up in your home:
- Have someone clean the chimney and fireplace. The inside surfaces of your chimney and fireplace get packed with particles of grime and soot, which give your house that strong, heavy, smoky odor. Hire a chimney-sweep or a professional cleaning service to clean your chimney and fireplace for you. (For chimney cleaning, learn how to clean a chimney)
- Scrub the walls and ceiling. Use plenty of soap and water to remove the particles of soot that have built up on your walls and ceiling. Pay attention to corners and the edges where the walls meet the ceiling. If necessary, you may need to repaint the room to get rid of the soot stains.
- Shampoo carpets. Have a professional carpet cleaning service shampoo your carpets for you. If you prefer to clean and shampoo your carpet yourself, make sure to get into the nap of the carpeting to remove carbon particles that have made their way deep into the fabric.
- Spray a bit of deodorizing spray. The best that a deodorizing spray will do is to mask the strong odors that come from soot and smoke. A few short pulses from the spray can will go a long way.
Use an Air Purifier
air purifier can help remove smoke odors, as well as other air contaminants like pollen, dust, and airborne mites. Air purifiers use activated carbon, sophisticated filtration systems, or oxidation devices to get rid of irritants and odors. Try to buy the best and most expensive air purifier you can afford, especially if you have roommates or family members who are allergic or sensitive to smoke particles.
It also helps to keep an air purifier in places that accumulate a lot of smoke particles, like the dining area, your smoking room, or rooms near the garage. Make sure to clean the or replace the filter of the air purifier regularly to keep the device working properly. (Guide on how to purify air)
Check Your Smoke Detectors
The old saying does hold true: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Fires that damage your property and put your life at risk are more dangerous than smoke smells. Make sure that the smoke detectors installed in your home or office work properly, and that the and sprinkler systems are functional. Replace the battery of your smoke detectors every eight months to make sure that they work.
Smoke smells are always a of incoming danger. Smoke can be a sign of a fire that needs to be put under control, or can pose the risk of suffocation or pulmonary disease. As soon as you have traced the cause of the smoke smell, getting rid of the smell is an important step to prevent disease, irritation, and that foul odor from permeating all throughout your house. If you enjoyed reading this article, you might as well read how to get rid of cigarette smoke damage.