Eldfel

We’ve covered in earlier posts some of the design features which allow for the safe use of fire in our Nordic tipis, but here, we’ll deal with the specific issue of carbon monoxide – a natural by product of combustion.  Wood fires, propane heaters, coal fires etc. – they all produce this gas, which isn’t hazardous in a well ventilated environment, as it rapidly combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide.  The key point we wish to expand upon here is how this ventilation and air-flow is essential to safe use of fire, and how tent design based upon well understood principles allows fire to be safely used in the Nordic tipi.

Tragic accidents involving Carbon Monoxide (CO), both in the home and in camping settings have all been due to a lack of oxygen during the fuel combustion process in combination with poor ventilation.  This prevents CO from combining with oxygen (to form carbon dioxide) and allows CO concentrations to rise.  In the cases involving camping accidents, the lack of adequate ventilation combined with the use of portable barbecues either inside or close to the tent has been a common factor.  Accidents have also occurred involving the use of propane heaters in similar circumstances.

We start this Post with a very clear warning not to close off ventilation when using a fire or heater, and to be especially careful when using portable barbecues.

 

USE OF FIRE IN THE TIPI

fire

The Tentipi Nordic tipi is a modern version of the traditional Sami home.  Their semi-nomadic lifestyle demanded a portable shelter, and their harsh environment demanded a design capable of incorporating a fire.  Their solution was, in many ways a simple one.  The conical tipi design was not only inherently stable, but it allowed safe use of fire, with smoke and fumes escaping through the roof.  Efficient burning of fuel was regulated by venting through the door panel.  In effect, their home was a highly effective chimney and living space combined, and Tentipi have brought this traditional design completely up-to-date with modern materials and manufacturing.

 

All carbon-based fuels (propane, coal, wood, etc.) produce carbon monoxide (CO) during combustion.  In a well-ventilated space CO combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide, and good air flow ensures mixing of gases.  Our design solution to achieve this combines ground positioned air vents and vents in the roof which create a natural chimney effect as the rising air column from the fire exits the tent, drawing in fresh air at ground level.  Opening the main door zip provides another source of oxygen too.  This is how a Nordic tipi works, and this design principle has been safely used for thousands of years.

 

In our instructions concerning the safe use of fire, we do recommend you use good ventilation and this ventilation should continue for as long as the fire is glowing.

 

USE OF A STOVE IN THE TIPI

The Eldfell Stove is a self-contained heating appliance – designed to burn fuel and transport smoke and fumes through the chimney where it exits to the external environment.  Immediately fuel is burnt in the stove the hot gases created rise through the chimney, creating low-pressure in the stove body.  This low pressure draws in oxygen from the tent surroundings, and the rate of burning is regulated through stove vents.  In effect, the fire creates its own air flow – drawing in fresh air and preventing gases from escaping.

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Eldfell stove in use. Aoki Lake. Photo courtesy Pharus, Japan.

 

Even if it were possible to make the tent, somehow airtight (!), fresh air still enters the tent through the space between the Eldfell chimney and the insulated sleeve, providing another source of oxygen for safe combustion of fuel.

 

The design principles around which our Nordic tipis are based have been in use for thousands of years, and fire was a central component to life in the very harsh environment encountered in Northern Sweden.  The tipi was a home, and the fire was an essential part of this home.  Whichever solution you choose to heat your tipi, whether it be stove or open fire, following some basic principles such as these will allow you to do so in complete safety. For further, detailed guidance, we recommend you read and understand our information concerning the safe use of fire – available here, in our Product Manual.

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