Why Does Your House Still Smell After A Fire?

Thursday 8th June 2023

Ellen Warren

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Burnt and derelict houses


No matter the size of a fire, it can leave noticeable damage in your home. Even after wiping away the layers of black soot, you will still detect a lingering smell of smoke. Soot is a persistent particle that is invisible to the naked eye when airborne and allowing the odour to remain is dangerous.

Fire smoke odour removal services are just one of the many we offer at our fire and smoke damage facilities. At ICE Cleaning, our technicians use state-of-the-art equipment and industrial-grade solutions to effectively scrub the air of smoke odours and make your home safe again.

Read on to learn more about soot and why it is causing your home to smell.

What is soot?

When a fire burns, you will see wisps of smoke emanating from the flames — this is incomplete combustion, producing small carbon particles. These airborne particles seek out surfaces to gather on, accumulating as a layer of black dust which we know as soot.

These soot particles are invisible to the naked eye and are smaller than a grain of sand. Soot gathers on colder surfaces as it cannot remain on a surface where the fire began. It can contain chemicals and toxins such as benzene, tar, and asbestos.

Why does soot smell?

Depending on the type of smoke damage, soot and smoke odours will differ. Whatever is burnt in the fire also affects how it smells. The moisture levels and how the fire burns change these factors, too.

These components create unique, pungent smells that can linger on your property for many years. Because soot particles are fine, they are absorbed easily by fabrics such as carpets, curtains, and upholstery.

These are not easily removed and will continue to produce smoke smells until the loose soot is disposed of or cleaned away. There are four types of smoke damage and odours to be aware of after a fire:

Dry Smoke

This smoke comes from high-temperature flames that burn quickly, often fuelled by paper or wood. It is not a strong smoke smell, but still detectable.

Wet Smoke

Low-heat flames that burn through plastic and rubber-like materials produce wet smoke. It is a strong, pungent smell that creates thick, black smoke.

Protein Smoke

Burning food produces this type of smoke, which is usually invisible or misty in appearance. Because of the organics burning, it leaves behind a strong odour that persists for a long time.

Fuel Smoke

Although more common in industrial spaces, when a furnace cannot produce a flame, this can release large amounts of smoke and soot. It is difficult to clean this soot which leaves an offensive smell.

What are the risks of soot?

When soot encounters surfaces across your home, it creates visible stains and permanently discolours everything it has interacted with. Because of the chemicals present in soot, it eats away at metals, china, glass, crystal, and silver.

If soot is left to sit for a long time, it will become harder to remove and may destroy everything it has settled on. Corrosion and rotting are common with objects covered in soot, so fire damage cleaning is imperative after a house fire.

Why smoke odours are dangerous

Smoke and soot particles present invisible hazards that can cause lifelong ailments without proper protection in a fire-damaged area.

These fine particles are smaller than red blood cells, meaning that when we either ingest or inhale them, they easily infiltrate our bloodstream and immune system.

Soot particles will invade the body by lining the inside of your lungs, effectively pumping chemicals across your bloodstream, and attacking your vital organs. After inhaling smoke odours and soot particles, you could be at risk of suffering from:

  • Infertility
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Acute bronchitis
  • Aggravated asthma
  • Cancer
  • Lung disease

What to do if your house smells after a fire

You must not continue to live on a property that has experienced a fire, as you could be at risk of living on a dangerous property and impacting your health.

You can find temporary accommodation by contacting your local council and asking for assistance — house fire victims are considered a high priority for housing.

If you must return to the property, do not try to clean up the smoke or fire damage yourself. You should contact a smoke odour removal service that can deal with this and keep yourself safe.

Regardless of whether your house still smells after a fire, you could reduce the number of particles present.

  • Wear rubber gloves, protective clothing, goggles, and an N95 face mask
  • Dispose of all soot-contaminated food and water
  • Remove smoke-damaged furniture from the house
  • Open all doors and windows to allow smoke to escape
  • Place fans in affected rooms to circulate air
  • Ensure gas, water, and electricity are switched off
  • Contact a professional cleaning company

Get in touch

Our expert cleaners at ICE Cleaning offer various fire and smoke damage cleaning services, including fire smoke odour removal. We effectively remove loose soot from your property and restore the air purity levels to an acceptable level.

If you want to know more about our range of professional cleaning services, contact our team at 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk. Our technicians are available nationwide and can be on-site at your earliest convenience in an emergency.

Reilly Peters

Reilly Peters

Business Development Manager

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