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Thread: Smoke

  1. #1
    DIY Member Semon's Avatar
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    Oct 2011

    Default Smoke

    Who do I get the smell of smoke out of a house?

  2. #2
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Aug 2004
    Bothell, Washington
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    If it's recent, open windows.

    If you've had a bad fire in there, and you are rebuilding the home, they use a product like Zerolac and paint over the burned wood to seal it.

  3. #3
    DIY Member Semon's Avatar
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    Oct 2011


    Just a badly burned pot of food on the stove. I washes the walls and ceiling but it still stinks.

  4. #4
    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Seattle. WA


    Just give it some time. People rapidly become accustomed to even quite strong and unpleasant odors, and stop even noticing
    it after a while.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    New England


    Smoke contains both gasses and solids...the gasses, when cool, may condense. the solids will precipitate, there may be some grease in it, so it all can be sticky. It tends to go everywhere...it can be a real pain removing as it can go nearly everywhere.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    Janitorial Technician nestork's Avatar
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    Aug 2012


    If you'd washed the walls and ceiling with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water, then you'd have gotten rid of the smell.

    Bleach works exactly the same way as ozone and hydrogen peroxide in killing smells (and removing the colour from dyes and taking the natural colour out of hair). Bleach (NaOCl), ozone (O3) and hydrogen peroxide (HOOH) all spontaneously break down to form more stable molecules, spitting out a lone oxygen atom in the process. Ozone forms oxygen gas (O2), hydrogen peroxide forms water (H2O) and given sufficient time, a gallon of Chlorox bleach will turn into a gallon of Chlorox salt water. In each case, that spontaneous transformation to a more stable molecule spits out a lone oxygen atom.

    Now, how can I say this politely.....?

    Lone oxygen atoms are the horny drunken sailors of the chemical world. They'll react with anything that's unstable enough to react with them, and that means stuff that will naturally decompose by itself in time, and that means large organic molecules.

    Oxygen atoms wreck large organic molecules by reacting with those large molecules in various places, thereby breaking it into pieces, and those pieces don't absorb the same wavelengths of light, or affect the olefactory sensors in our nose or, undoubtedly, the taste buds on our tongues the same way as the original molecule did. So, when you bleach the colour out of a t-shirt, the dye molecules that previously created the colour are still on the cotton, but they're broken into small pieces and none of those pieces absorb the same wavelengths of light the original dye molecules did. So, the colour is gone, but the dye is still there... only in pieces.

    If you'd washed the walls with a mild bleach solution, the oxygen atoms produced by the bleach would have broken down the large organic molecules that settled on your walls and ceiling as a result of burning that food.

    But, be careful using bleach (or any "oxidizing bleach" as ozone, bleach and hydrogen peroxide are called) because the oxygen atoms produced don't know what job you want them to do, so they'll react with any and every large organic molecule they come across. Cellulose, for example, is a large organic molecule. Cotton is almost pure cellulose. So, if you leave a cotton rag or cellulose sponge soaking in bleach, the rag or sponge will be destroyed by the bleach. It'll still look like a rag or sponge, but as soon as you pick it up or start using it, it'll fall to pieces or turn into mush if you squeeze it. That's because so many of the cellulose molecules it's made of have been broken to pieces that it no longer has the strength to hold it's shape or stand up to any kind of scrubbing.

    The biggest gun in the arsenal when it comes to killing smells is an ozone machine, which you can rent at many janitorial supply stores. Ozone is more effective than bleach only because it breaks down much faster; in a matter of a few hours as compared to months or years. When a person who lives alone dies in their house and the body isn't discovered until the neighbors start to complain about the awful smell coming from the house, it's an ozone machine (or several of them) that are used to remove the smell from the house.

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