How to Get Rid of a Smoke Smell

The smell of smoke can linger long after a fire has been extinguished. Let’s take a look at some helpful tips on the topic of smoke smell removal.

smoke smell

It’s great news when a building survives a fire. So many fires end up in the total loss of the structure, so it can be seen as a win when one is still standing and can be restored. 

With that said, the restoration process can be challenging. One element of this task that surprises some property owners is how the smell of smoke can linger in a building for a long time. Even if the fire was relatively minor, that distinctive smoke smell might stubbornly hang on. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the basics of how to get rid of a smoky smell after a fire. 

It’s a Complicated Job

At first, you might think that simply removing the carbon deposits that land on surfaces around the building would be enough to get rid of the smell. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to be the case. Even after all the surfaces have been cleaned, you’ll find that the smell continues to permeate the area. It’s not uncommon for the smoke smell to linger for six months after a fire has been extinguished.

Can I Just Ignore the Smell?

Ignore smell

Knowing that the smell should eventually go away, you might think about just trying to ignore it for a few months while it runs its course. This isn’t a great strategy. There are potential side effects associated with living or working in a space that has not been properly restored after a fire. Those issues include the following –

  • Feelings of dizziness and fatigue can result from spending too much time in this space before it has been properly cleaned
  • The eyes can become swollen and uncomfortable
  • Some people may experience symptoms like shortness of breath, sore throat, and cough
  • Elevated blood pressure and even chest pains are possible

Any way you look at it, spending too much time in a building that has suffered a fire and not been thoroughly cleaned afterward is a bad idea. There is no reason to risk your health and the health of others when a solution is available. Work with the professional team at Lawton to determine exactly what kind of remediation work is required in this building. When the work is finished, the smell of smoke will be gone, and the building will be safe to use once again.

Some Basic Steps

In this section, we’ll touch on some of the simple things that you can do to get started toward removing the smoky smell. These basic steps probably won’t completely solve the problem, unless the fire was very modest in size and scope, but they will be a good start. 

The first tip is one you may have been able to figure out on your own – open the windows. The longer you can leave the windows open, the more chance the smoky smell will have to leave the space. If you can open large windows for an extended period of time, that would be great. Opening doorways would even be better. The goal here is simply to allow as much fresh, clean air as possible into the building. 

Another simple step is to take items that have been badly burned and remove them from the building. This kind of work needs to be done carefully, of course, and only after everything has had a chance to completely cool down. Those burned items are going to hold onto the smoky smell for a long time, and they may perhaps never lose it. Some of the burned items may need to be thrown away, but at least get them out of the space for the time being to reduce the smell. 

Lastly, an approach you may not have yet considered – placing containers of water throughout the building. Water can soak up odors, so set a few different buckets or other containers with water in the space and give them some time to work. After a while, empty the buckets and refill them with fresh water. This is a low-tech solution to be sure, but it can have a positive impact.

Using Advanced Equipment

When you reach this stage of the restoration process, you are probably going to be bringing in professional help. There are a couple of different types of equipment that you may want to have used in your space – ozone generators and dry fog generators. Each of these has the potential to remove the burnt smell from your building, but they need to be used properly and their limitations need to be understood. 

Ozone generator

By using an ozone generator, you will be occupying the space with additional oxygen atoms as compared to what is typically available in the environment. This extra atom can change the nature of the molecules that are creating the odor, and as a result, the odor can be removed. On the downside, it might not be safe to be in the room while such a machine is working, so you may need to vacate for a time while it does its job. 

dry fog generator

Another option is a dry fog generator. This type of machine has the ability to eliminate odors such as those that come from smoke, and it is often considered a safer option than an ozone machine. By the nature of fog, it may be hard to target this kind of odor removal, yet it can be an effective technique when employed by a professional team. 

Smoke Smell Removal Alternatives

There are plenty of products that you can use to target smoky smells in an attempt to remove them, or at least reduce them to the furthest extent possible. Let’s quickly highlight a few of these options:

  • Vinegar.Vinegar When cleaning up in a room after a fire, vinegar may be one of your greatest allies. You can mix vinegar with water to create a powerful cleaning solution that will cut through some of the lingering smoke smell. Also, just as with the earlier tip regarding using buckets of water around the space, you can leave small containers of vinegar to capture odor molecules. 
  • Baking soda.Baking soda Along with vinegar, baking soda is another item that you may already have on hand. This is a great product to lean on when you have to get the smoky smell out of soft materials like fabrics (clothes, drapes, furniture, etc.). If an item is small enough to fit into a bag, place it in a bag with some baking soda and give it a shake. After it has been left to sit, you should notice a significant improvement in the smell of the item.
  • Activated carbon.Activated carbon Don’t let this name intimidate you – activated carbon is easy to acquire and it can do a great job of getting rid of odors. This is a passive form of odor removal, as you’ll just gather up some activated carbon in a bundle and place it in areas where odors need to be removed. With an affordable price tag, this should be one of the first places you turn in your efforts to cut down on the smoke smell. 

Calling on Expert Help

You may be able to take some basic steps toward eliminating the smell of smoke on your own, but a thorough job is going to require the help of a professional team. With the right equipment, techniques, and experience, Lawton Construction & Restoration will be able to wipe away that lingering smoky smell so you can enjoy the space once again. Also, if there are other tasks that need to be completed as part of the restoration process, our team is more than up to the challenge. Contact us today to get started. 

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