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Is your kitchen chimney giving you breathing disorders?

India is known as the land of spices and we take great pride in revealing that “my wife is the best cook of the world” or “you’d forget the taste of a 5 star hotel food after tasting the food that my mom cooks at home”. Undoubtedly, all these claims are cent percent correct otherwise why would one find Indian street food stalls in every corner of the world.

Now, as much effort and knowledge of spices is required to cook a finger licking dish, so are the pains to get rid of the grime collected on the kitchen tiles and fans and also the smoke from the home after a frying or a grilling session. Cleaning the kitchen after preparing a meal is a very cumbersome task as it is extremely difficult to get rid of the grime and the oil collected on the kitchen slabs, cabinets and tiles manually.

What can be the best solution to the problem?
Well, the solution is to not let the grime and oil to accumulate in the first place. This is when a chimney comes to the rescue.

Now, if you are a frequent visitor to the posts on this blog, you might be probably aware that we take each topic from the grass root level and we’ll do the same with this post as well. We’ll begin with the basics first, understand how the chimney works, after that we’ll discuss about the various filters deployed in chimneys for the purification process along with their pros and cons, then we’ll discuss the types of chimneys available in the market, then we’ll move on to discuss how some brands put the consumers at health risks by using below par components in the chimneys and then proceed onto deciding which type of chimney would be the best for you, according to your needs.

You might be glad to know that my father works at a company that manufactures home appliances like geysers, washing machines, refrigerators, water purifiers etc. So at home, we frequently have a conversation about commercial appliances, what goes into making them, how brands try to do cost cutting etc.
Today, I’ll try my best to pass on the knowledge that I have acquired from my father over the years, to you so as to help you make a good decision.

So without further a do, let’s begin…

The Basics
A kitchen chimney sucks the greasy and oily air from your kitchen. The various filters fitted inside the chimney that trap the oil and heat and fumes from that air and then either expel the air out of your home or the purified and odor free air is sent back to your kitchen depending upon the installation type of chimney.
On the basis of installation type, the chimneys can be classified into two broad categories:-

  1. Extracting
  2. Recycling

Extracting chimney– This category of chimneys suck the oily and greasy air from your kitchen. The air on passing through a series of filters, each installed for a specific purpose gets purified and is thrown out of the home via large diameter PVC pipes. This type of chimney is also known as ducted chimney.

Recycling chimney– This category of chimneys is similar to the extracting one except for the fact that the clean air obtained by filtration is passed back to your kitchen. This type of chimney is also known as ductless chimney.

In India, most of the chimneys you would find fall into the first category.

Now, having learnt the basics, we’ll proceed to learn about the various filters that are deployed in chimneys that remove the oil and other greasy and harmful elements:-

Baffle filter– This filter is made up of multiple layers of curved stainless steel panels. The sucked air passes through these multiple curved layers and the remaining oil and grease is trapped in this filter. Contrary to the Cassette filter, the amount of dirt, grime and oil in the sucked air do not alter the suction power or noise produced by the chimney. This type of filter is the most commonly used filter in the chimneys manufactured for Indian homes.

Pros of Baffle filter

  • Low maintenance. This filter requires very less maintenance and cleaning it once every month will be sufficient.
  • Improved airflow. Since the curved stainless steel panels are layered, the inflow of air is much higher than that of mesh filters.
  • Dishwasher safe. You can clean this filter in a dish washer and thus no extra cleaning efforts are required.

Cons of Baffle filter

  • Can be more expensive than the mesh filters.

(Picture of the Baffle filter)

Cassette filter– This filter is also known as the mesh filter. Cassette filter is made up of several layers of aluminium mesh consisting of tiny holes. These holes separate the oil and grime from the sucked in air and the cleaner air is passed to the PVC pipes and is expelled from the home.

Pros of cassette filter

  • Relatively less expensive than Baffle filters.
  • Dishwasher safe. You can clean this filter in a dish washer and thus no extra cleaning efforts are required.

Cons of cassette filter

  • These filters must be cleaned regularly to function properly. Generally, these have to be cleaned every week. If not properly cleaned, the mesh can hold grease at its surface and increases the risk of fire.
  • More noisy than baffle type filters. The noise liberated by the suction of air via this filter is high and can become a nuisance after a while.

(Picture of the Cassette filter)

Having discussed the various types of filters, we’ll discuss the types of chimneys available in the market on the basis of their hoods/place of installation.
On the basis of the place of installation, the chimneys can be classified into four broad categories:-

  • Wall mounted chimney. This is the most common hood among the others. They are fixed onto the wall and the hood hangs above the stove. It comes in various styles and designs.
  • Island chimney. It is required when your cooking platform is in the middle of your kitchen as it helps two people to cook together standing both sides of the platform. They are for the counter-top cooking ranges and gas stoves. It is an ideal choice for hobs with western styled counters. They are fixed on the ceiling and seem like hanging from nowhere.
  • Built in chimney. They remain concealed behind or under the cabinets and blend with the tapestry of the kitchen. This type of chimney is not very common and is generally suggested by an interior designer to give an ultra modern look to your kitchen.

(Picture of an Island Chimney)

Now, we proceed on to learn the tactics some brands use to cut manufacturing costs and thus posing a threat to the lives of the consumers.

  • Using a below par filter. By now you have learnt how different types of filters can be used to purify the air. What some brands do is, they deploy poorly built, cheap filters that are not very potent in separating the oil, dirt and fumes from the sucked in air and thus most of the fumes remain in your kitchen itself thus causing various breathing issues and lung related diseases.
  • Using a low grade suction motor. The suction capacity of a chimney depends upon the suction capacity and the wattage of the suction motor. Now, what some brands do is, they show a higher watt suction motor capacity on paper so as to fool the innocent buyers, but in reality the suction capacity of this motor is extremely low and thus the fumes do not get sucked into the filter of the chimney which in turn causes several breathing issues.

The next thing you must be aware of when choosing a chimney for your kitchen is the suction capacity required for proper operation:-
Suction power is the capacity of the motor to suck oil particles and odor from the air. It is measured in cubic meter per hour. For Indian kitchen a chimney with higher air suction capacity is ideal. For frequent cooking, the range should be between 500 cubic meter/hr to 1000 cubic meter/hr depending on the size of your kitchen. The chimneys with a long hose have generally more suction power.

Also the capacity of the chimney to expel the impure air via the PVC pipes depend upon the number of bends/turns that are there in the pipe. If your chimney is installed in a place where the bends of the pipes is more than three, go with at least a 750 cubic meter/hour suction capacity for efficient cleansing operation.

Having said that, let’s proceed to zero down at some of the best built kitchen chimneys of few good brands in various suction capacity ranges that are not only efficient at their work but also provide the
best value for your money.

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