For more than a week we have been having problems with our soba. It started smoking due to a semi blocked chimney and it seemed that pretty much everything we tried failed to solve the problem completely.
We cleaned out the chimney removing lots of soot, we got a rotating cowl, we burnt a pack of the chimney opener stuff in the soba, but no matter what we did, nothing seemed to solve the problem. The carbon monoxide issue was solved, a very good thing – the alarms remained silent, but it remained smoky and did not seem to be drawing air. It had become a source of much frustration and we had become quite guarded and anxious about using it.
This morning we took it all apart again and discovered that despite all the attempts at clearing the chimney it was partially blocked again, and with what appeared to be big granules of soot. At first we were at a loss to explain how this had happened, we had only been burning wood, it was cleaned out a week ago. The explanation could only be the chimney opener stuff, that what it does is turn fine grains of soot into loose larger crystals which are meant to then fall down the chimney or be easy to sweep out. With us having a long horizontal piece of chimney it could not fall out and instead formed into large lumps.
Having discovered this (and after a walk and tea with a friend on Pamucak beach which was lovely in the winter sun) we got some more cleaning tools and set about getting the chimney clear. We got covered in soot and had to do a lot of cleaning up afterwards.
We can now report that we have a properly functioning soba, and despite outside being a chilly 4°C at 7.30pm and due to drop further overnight, we are comfortably warm and looking forward to a snug night at home.
Having a Soba (wood fired stove) for heating is great, it warms the room well and is very comforting. Currently we are burning peach wood, it smells good, but so we are told burns faster than olive wood. Our peach wood also contains insects which along with wood dust and chips get into the house, not really a problem but the area near the soba where we are keeping the daily wood supply gets pretty messy. There is also a certain amount of ash that gets into the room, mostly when we are emptying the soba in the morning. We have been managing fine with a broom, brush and dustpan. Our neighbour has a vacuum cleaner and we suffered from vacuum envy every time she used it. Being retired and having time on our hands does not mean we need to forsake work saving devices, so today we invested in a vacuum cleaner. It’s not a Dyson. We used to have a Dyson back in the UK, but this neat little LG number is bagless and has a cyclone. It says so on the box.
Housework in Turkey is a whole different kettle of fish. We can’t actually claim to be houseproud. We lived like a students for many, many years, finally getting our act together a few years back when we were sick of living in total chaos and wanted to be able to find things. We don’t think we got actually houseproud, but the flat in West London was tolerably clean and tidy.
Here in Selçuk it’s totally different. For a start, various parts of the place we are renting has been rented out to various people. Our landlady and the lady who helps run the place in her absence have done everything possible to keep it clean and shiny but parts have been closed up and parts have been rented out on short term holiday lets and, by all accounts, prior to that, to some rather strange people one of whom took a knife to the washing machine. So, predictably, there’s been a lot of initial cleaning, as there always is when you move into a new place.
The shops have a variety of cleaning products, many of which are familiar; others have pictures which indicate a rough idea of potential usage. Then there is Por Çöz which appears to be some sort of highly corrosive agent. The instructions (in Turkish) say don’t mix with bleach and have various other precautionary notes. Investigation revealed that one of the ingredients is sulphuric acid and/or nitric acid. It’s been banned in the States. Çamaşir suyu is invaluable. The name sounds like it should be laundry juice but it is bleach. Which, of course, must never be mixed with is Por Çöz. There is also Yağ çözüsü (literal translation is grease solvent) which is what is used to clean kitchens, bathrooms and ovens. There are many different brands of this and the one we used in the oven this morning was very effective.
The two main ongoing cleaning issues are dust and limescale. The water hardness is somewhere off the scale, we are used to hard water but the local water takes some beating.
The dust: You can get the place spotless and, turn your back on it for ten minutes, and it’s deep in dust again. The dust here is incredibly fine and it blows about. Then it settles in the places it is least welcome. Like every surface inside the home and the terraces and the stairs.
The limescale: Por Çöz is recommended for getting rid of limescale on metal, glass, ceramics and porcelain. We understand this, we have some basic knowledge of chemistry. It will also get rid of our skin so would need to be used with caution. Obviously not allowing anything, especially glassware, to drip dry will help a great deal. We do however dread to think of the state of the limescale in the pipes and washing machine.