Re: Poisonous Smoke
Gary Sherwin (sherwin@SUNSHINE.PGH.WEC.COM)
Thu, 22 Jun 1995 11:22:40 EDT
Now I am curious. I can not believe that rhdodendron or laurel WOOD smoke
is any more toxic than any other wood smoke. When I was a scout, rhododendron
was the largest source of wood we used for camping. It was plentifull and an
excelent fuel. It is better burning than even ash or maple. I suspect that
the burning caution is related to the leathery leaves, but I doubt even that
as I can remember a number of young and foolish scouts in a patrol in my troop
trying to be cool by rolling the leaves into cigars and smoking them.
Although I did not experience this activity personaly, I was the Senior
Patrol Leader that caught them. We observed no visible effects. You know
that if they had done the same with oak, or especialy cherry, they would have
been very ill. In fact, there are very many other plants that could of even
killed them had they tried this trick.
Would you be so kind as to direct me to your source at the US Forest Service?
I would like to find his source so that I can research this further. I am
not a novice in this area as my undergraduate degree is in Biology with
emphasis on plant taxonomy and environmental studies. In scouting I have a
long standing specialty in wild foods and consequently in plant poisons.
I can find no mention of laurel or rhododendron smoke being poisonous in
any of my poison text. They do mention cherry and other pitted fruits,
a source of cyanide you know. They also mention things such as datura
know as Jimson Weed or Thorn Apple.
I would repeat. ALL SMOKE IS POISONOUS and should be avoided as much as
possible. I am afraid that campfire smoke is seldom seen as more than
a nuisance. It is not just that. It is full of all sorts of noxious
poisons that should be avoided by proper fire building and cooking techniques
and conservation and other energy resource alternatives. While it is important
that we have the skill to utilize natural materials for cooking, and to practice
this skill, In my obnoxious opinion, once we or our scouts have gained these
skills, they should minimize the environment and health damaging use of wood
fires of any type. Fires should be used in fireplaces with chimneys to vent
the fumes away from the cook or as events (Camp fires) where all participants
are able to avoid the smoke. If it is neccessary to cook on a wood fire, we
should learn to boil with hot low smoke flames. and to do other cooking with
hot coals stolen from a hot flaming fire. If these two things are not available,
then we are not ready to cook and should avoid exposing ourselves to the noxious
smoke as we try to cook over an inadequate fire.
I know that what I am saying will not be popular with many scouters. After my
own son had several serious alergy attacks, precipitated by exposure to smoke,
I began to look into liquid fuels as a viable alternative. When I latter
found that I too was becoming overly sensitive to smoke, our troop developed
an extensive training and handling policy for liquid fuels use, complete with
a license and exact penalties for abuse of ALL fire tools, both liquid and
solid and associated utencils. Now we use both wood and other fuels and
tightly regulate all of them. I will be glad to share our program, which is
based on BSA and local council guidelines with anyone who is interested. It
includes procedures and a Fire Chip card that indicates the level of fire
training and any suspensions due to improper use. This program has eliminated
abuse of fire and cooking tools and the associated hazards from our campouts.
Training is normaly given to new scouts at their 4th campout (This coming weekend).
Please let me know about USFS source.
I used to be an Eagle NE-V-19-20
Eagle Scout Class of 1967
Vigil-Wagion Lodge 6
(Mr.) Gary W. Sherwin SM
Troop 461 Yukon, Pa.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City