Just before you light up that forge, you must think about ventilation. Not thinking about ventilation is almost the same as thinking about killing yourself. Without proper ventilation, you are at a very big risk of carbon monoxide pollution, which will cause very serious harm to you and possibly even death, before you can rush out to get fresh air. Generally speaking though, as a blacksmith, you should be thinking about ventilation whenever you are working, whether or not, you are using your forge at the time. Now that I have managed to scare you into taking ventilation very seriously, I will suggest a few good ways you can ventilate and keep yourself safe.
- If you have set up your forge near a wall, place a vent in the wall behind the forge. This will allow cold air to be drawn past the forge and then heated a bit. If your forge is not set up near a wall, you should consider doing this.
- Chimneys are very useful but remember that chimneys are made to move smoke and toxic gases out of a building. The amount of smoke that leaves should be replaced with the same amount of cold air. It’s a good idea to set up a good cross flow ventilation (this can be done by putting in windows on opposite side of each other), that will help supply the air to make up for the air going out of the chimney. Carbon monoxide is an extremely toxic gas that can kill you before you have the time to get any help. It is a tasteless, odorless and colorless gas. Therefore, once it starts to fill your shop, you will be oblivious to it. So, you need to get a good carbon monoxide detector, and once it goes off, it is always best to go outside for fresh air.
- During welding, it is a good idea to mount a furnace fan on wheels next to your welding station, and point it towards an open door and if possible, open an opposite window.
Hope these tips help. Remember that with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, you still need very good ventilation, because detectors can only show you the problem without actually being able to fix the problem. Furthermore, detectors can fail, there can be battery issues and things like that, so, it is not a very good idea to be completely dependent on them. Also, even if your carbon monoxide detectors do not go off, it is still advisable to step out for fresh air frequently.