Letter Re: Light, Noise, and Smoke Discipline for Retreat Security

I was reading your postings on light security and blackout curtains for a home that would be secure in the nighttime. I thought about it on my way home after work, and realize that you’re right. I’ve
driven around my area during power outages and know who is home, due to their having generators running and lights shining, or even just those using candles or lanterns of various types. As I was pondering those things, I pulled into my driveway and looked at my home and a question popped up immediately. Here in the Northeast, (Maine) we’re in the heating season.
If anything were to happen, it would be a dead giveaway to know who is home or who isn’t by looking at the chimneys and observing smoke coming out. Especially when you’re just starting the woodstove.
It has a tendency to create a lot of smoke until the stack temperature begins to heat up and cause an updraft. Do you know of any way to decrease smoke from a chimney, or any way to camouflage the
Thanks for your blog and all that you do. Rob in Maine (Proud owner of an autographed “Patriots” book!)

JWR Replies: Aside from burning only well-dried wood and using your stove’s damper judiciously, I don’t know of any means of minimizing smoke from a chimney. (It is rapid changes in damper position that seem to generate the most smoke.) If you are in the habit of cranking up your stove with an open damper for roaring hot once a week to burn out any accumulated creosote from the upper reaches of your stove, then do so only after dark. Ditto for cleaning out ashes and re-kindling the stove.