Smoke Hoods

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) as many as 1.5 million people die each year as a result of indoor air pollution (IAP).[1] The overwhelming cause of this pollution is inefficient und poorly ventilated cooking and heating with solid biomass. Smoke hoods are one alternative to alleviate the dangers related to smoke from open fires as they draw the smoke out of the house. This makes the indoor air much cleaner and healthier.

What is a Smoke Hood

Smoke hoods consist of a main stove body, from which a flue takes the polluting gases out of a house through the roof. In many ways they can be matched to the traditional fireplaces or improved cookstoves (ICS) found in households all over the world for cooking, boiling water, lighting or heating. In hot regions, a hood made of insulating material can take away much of the heat out of the kitchen. In cold regions, the hood can be built to allow the family to benefit from the radiant heat of the fire.

Target Group

Families which are currently cooking on open fires with biomass or charcoal are the target group for smoke hoods. Especially they will benefit from an optimized smoke hood and will enjoy the dramatic health benefits that accrue by reduced exposure to indoor air pollution (IAP). These families are not ready yet to totally change all their cooking and living habits or traditions.

There are different traditional and practical reasons, why people are cooking on open fires:

  • People are used to cook on open fires
  • People are very poor and wood and agriculture residues are for free
  • Other or cleaner technologies and fuels are not available or not affordable
  • It is cold and the fire is also used for space heating
  • Traditionally the family is sitting around the fire
  • The smoke kills vermin in the thatched roof

The smoke hood technology is not the best solution for every culture or region. The potential for an adequate cost / benefit, user acceptance and subsequent impact of introducing smoke hoods in a given setting are affected by several criteria.

Those that lead to a positive scenario include, but are not limited to the following:

  • No alternative options that might inhibit the adoption of a smoke hood
  • Only simple pot cooking is required
  • Internal dimensions that allow the cook to use familiar cooking practices
  • Biomass and charcoal are used by the huge majority
  • Materials and production skills within the community
  • Certain level of manufacturing possibilities is available like bending
  • Access to accordingly raw materials like sheet or recycled metals
  • Good transport networks that allow hoods to be entirely or partially manufactured elsewhere
  • Access to small-scale credit funds

"Healthy Hoods" Project


  1. WHO - Indoor air pollution takes heavy toll on health (