We are in the process of choosing a fireplace for our house (which is being refurbished). Is it possible to have a wood-burning fireplace that doesn't cause any harmful emissions or contribute to smog (both indoors and outdoors)? If this is the case then what do we need to look for when choosing it?

We need the fireplace only for decorative purposes, we are not planning to use it for actual heating. However, burning wood looks much better than burning gas pretending to be wood.

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    A wood stove will burn hotter, resulting in more complete combustion and less emissions. Is this something you would consider? Typically the flame would not be visible, however. – LShaver Jan 21 '17 at 14:31
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    Most stoves I've seen have glass doors so you can see the fire. These are more efficient than open fires and keep the indoor air cleaner. But there's a correlation between flames and soot - efficient clean burning doesn't flame very much. – Chris H Jan 21 '17 at 19:11
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    No. Burning is by definition the production of carbon dioxide. – Móż Jan 22 '17 at 4:07
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    If it's just decorative then really the most ecological thing to do is not install a real fireplace: there'll be no chimney and related heat losses.. – stijn Jan 23 '17 at 8:42
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    I agree with @stijn -- this question seems to boil down to "I want to burn wood just to see flames. But I also don't want to harm the environment." I think you can't have it both ways -- either use the wood to heat your house, or don't even bother with a fireplace and get a "fireplace" screen-saver for your TV or something. – Smilin Brian Jan 24 '17 at 21:49

Masonry heaters are stoves with a masonry component ("stones") of 800kg or more. They are installed into a home and are sized after the room size and insulation. (The sizing is quite important as you don't want a stove too strong or too weak, so it is recommended to consult a professional.)

Used correctly, the inside temperature gets quite high, so that the wood burns comparatively cleanly.

Due to their large thermal mass, they are able to store heat and give off a wonderful warmth over an extended period of time (6-36 hours) off-setting the need for other types of heating.

(Usually, you can light a fire in the afternoon/at night and the room will be kept warm until you relight the stove the next day.)

And, for the decorative aspect, they may come with a window.

masonry heater

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    We have one of these. We use it to heat the house in winter evenings, after we come home from work, because we leave the oil heating on low. A good one will heat the house in no time, and stays warm for hours even after the fire is out. Ours is a German design with built-in seating. The most important thing is to burn only wood in it. It burns away almost completely and you can put the ash in the garden. Also the wood comes from our garden or from neighbours when they cut down old trees, or waste from the local sawmill. – RedSonja Jan 30 '17 at 9:38

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