Wood gas safety

Hello guys, thod l make a topic about this, not just post it somewhere to be forgotten. Its kinda important…

The other day, son and l made a new blacksmith forge. We are buliding a small shop where the hog kitchen used to be. Its a small room, traditionaly built next to or near the hoghouse.

The room is about 9x9 feet, maybee a bit more and quite low, just enaugh for a hammer swing.

We set the forge and tryed it out. Burnt a couple of pounds of charcoal slowly, to dry the clay lineing. Then we hit the shower and l went to bed. Thets when l started to feel something was wrong. A minute later l threw up. Headake set in and my hearth started racing. I knew the simptomes well. It was CO poisoning. Told my wife to get redy just in case we need to go, but then decided to wait a bit. The night was agonising and l spent the next day in bed. 2 days later, lm more or less recovered.

Later analising how this was possible, l found the cause. Even thugh l completely threw the door and one wall out of the room where the forge is and there is also a window on one wall, there is a ledge l left above the door for supporting the cieling. And its height was just about at my nose height… the warm, light CO must of collected just under the cieling, where l have been breathing it for about half a hour. 7 year old son is much shorter and got none of it.

Be carefull guys, this scilent killer is not a joke and it seems the simptomes do not nessesery show right away! One might even go to sleep uneffected and never wake up…
Be carefull, mostly for your health, but also for the sake of others. Woodgas is gaining popularity in this energy chrysis. If a couple of people die for being reckless or uneducated, thats one more leveridge for our lords to make it ilegal and WE DO NOT WANT THAT!

Be safe!


Thank you Kristijan for reminding us about CO poisoning and how CO can accumulate in pockets. Glad you are recovering.


Thank God Almighty for saving you and healing you up. Yes CO it is a can’t see it and can’t smell it killer. Proper ventation is a must.


Good morning Kristijan .

Real glad it all turned out OK Please stay safe .


Yes, good to hear it went well, you get to buy a warning meter so you or the boy don’t get poisoned.
Do you have any pictures of your forge, the boy wants to start forging, and we don’t really know what the forge should look like.


Glad to hear you’re ok Kristijan.
A beer would have blocked the CO from reaching your blood stream, right? :smile:


Yes Paul, exactly. Pockets. Also, it acumulates. Even small doses slowly poison your blood. That blood never recovers and needs to be replaced by the body. Its basicly the same as a major blod loss for rhe body.

Jan, thats the thing. I got one in the house but in a shop thats more thain 1/4 open l never thod something like that is possible. I will post forge pictures later.

Ha, JO, this is a rare occasion where l actualy got beer to blame for a problem :smile: l did drink a couple when demolishng the wall and while l wasnt close to drunk, the slight beer buzz might of have covered early simptomes of the poisoning. But since forging and beer go together too well, in the future l will rather install a monster fumehood :smile:


I wonder if attaching louvres in the high spots will help it vent out better?

Maybe you should get a fan to suck the air out of the shop, or blow clean air in.


Definitely do that.

I’m paranoid of CO poisoning so any blacksmithing piddling I’ve done was outside with only a roof.


Good Morning KristijanL.
I am sorry this happened to you.

But I am glad it was you who it did happen too.
You are respected and speak with educated authority.

Scary, scary you realize you endangered you son too, yes.
Scared your wife to where she was justified kicking you ass too, yes.
You are not just some old Batchelor- fart at the end of his Life.

50+ years of inside houses woodstoving responsibility and never once close to CO poisoning. Constant UPDRAFT safety.

35 years of doing Steve sniffed tailpipe Vehicle emissions testing set-ups for friends and relatives I had lots of CO headaches. Eyes irritated from CH’s spewed. Nox silly giggles. The CO’s the worse because as you said it does take a week to recover new blood cells. I was probably a bit too impaired to be driving, truth be.

Then in-shops woodgas systems trialing and engine set up running . . . sure open doors . . . still a few CO headaches from hovering over mixers puffs.
Me, never bad enough for nausea though.
You tread the line to staying above the ground; close, friend.

You betcha’. Sing out about it. Some will hear you.
Steve Unruh


The voice of experience—thanks for the warning. Glad you are ok.


The one time I am glad about having diabetes.
CO messes my blood sugar. I get instantly angry when I get exposed to CO. I feel my mood change before I get too much exposure.
The funny part was, I didn’t understand this when I was struggling to get my first flare. I could not understand why experimenting with wood gas, (and failing) was causing me so much frustration and anger. Making bad biodiesel, or blowing up batteries never effected me at all. Boy, one good look down the flare stack and I was insane with rage. Like steroids. Then my diabetes progressed far enough where my sugar would drop on its own and I would get hangry. That’s when I figured out the gas was knocking down my blood sugar.
It’s dangerous!!!
Can you imagine driving around with a machine on your car that make a gas that will kill you?


And being angry the whole time your dying?
Like a certain sticker I have

Thanks for the reminder, we do play with danger


Thanks Kristijan. Lucky you survived. And good that you found out why.

Thanks. The boys overhere are playing with scooters. One of them is sick now. I will ask him if he got the door shut while testing. Exactly the simptoms you discribed.


Good to hear you are ok Kristijan, co are dangeros stuff. Best help when poisoned: fresh air, keeping warm, and keep very calm.
For my forge i have a 200 liter drum cut as a “hood” with a ventilation fan with 2 speeds, i have my forge in my basement workshop, and it’s good to be able run the fan on low speed to ventilate after forging, when charcoal still smoldering for some time, no risk for co leaking into house.
Edit: during the woodgas era a popular “cure” among mechanics and drivers was to inhale oxygen directly from the acetylene/oxygene torch, very dangerous though, pure oxygen can make you self combust, and today most welding oxygen are odouros to easily smell leaks, that makes you puke…


Type of forge depends on what you plan to make in it Jan. For instance if you just wanted to make knives then an old brake drum would make a fine forge. Personally I thing the ones Chuck Whitlock makes and sells are good for pretty much any kind of forging. I would copy one of his designs.


I took an old steel propane grill and lined it with brick, and used a pipe nozzle for my air. I wanted something long and narrow for swords and stuff.

Guess I was charcoal gasifying before I even knew anything about woodgas.

I’d like to build an Aristotle Furnace for melting down all the nails I recover, and other small bits of scrap.


Thanks for the tips Cody and Tom.


nice to hear you are fine again, kristijan…for my part, as grown up in a fire-less houshold - my parents have only electricity and petrol heating at their home - i have not had the danger of glowing coal in my mind…only since making gasifiers and reading here in the forum, the danger of co poisoning is present in my mind…
with my forge , i have it now since more than 12 years, i have had obviously more luck as brain, because i have had placed it outdoor for the reason of absolutely no space somewhere in a room or workshop…otherwise i have had placed shurely somewhere inside for protect from rain and working with it than without knowing the danger, having maybe more bad results as you …


For those in the US and I’m sure in Europe, you can buy sealed 10 year CO detectors, or 12VDC wired detectors made for mobile campers.

I’m considering buying this pack, one for my Shop and one for my truck.

Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector with Long-Life Lithium Battery, 3 LEDs, Alarm Memory, Test/Reset Button, Pack of 2 https://a.co/d/gwhyHoK

Carbon Monoxide is slightly lighter than air, and it can diffuse with the air in a room easily. Most say to mount these at eye level.

Edit: I forgot to mention most Smoke Detectors actually only detect CO2.