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Most people can pick up smoke odors due to their distinct smell. The smell of burning wood can trigger a memory of sitting around a campfire. The smell of burnt rubber can trigger thoughts of oil or car trouble. Soot residues are also distinct and vary among different material surfaces. These different characteristics can help us identify the burnt material and how to clean it efficiently.

The classifications are:

  • Protein
  • Natural
  • Synthetic


The classification of odors from burned meat are protein odor. Think of the time someone burnt a chicken dinner! The residue around the source is typically a yellow or brown color. There’s also a noticeable greasy texture found on surfaces around the source. The best way to clean protein residues and remove odors is through wet cleaning techniques. Restoration companies use citrus-based deodorizers help neutralize the odor.


Think of all the things in your home that are a natural material – wood, paper, and fibers. Burnt natural substances leave a gray or black soot residues. They also leave dry powder-like textures behind. Natural soot residues are easier to clean and can be accomplished with vacuums and followed by wet cleaning techniques. These odors are the easiest to get rid of with deodorizers.


Synthetic materials are abundant in everyone’s homes! These manufactured materials and include polymers, synthetic fibers, acrylic and more. Example of the use of synthetics are found in upholstery, drapes, and furniture. Synthetic soot residues are found where the materials are oil-based. The residue will be thick and a heavy black color. Smeared soot residue creates a more challenging effort for the clean-up. If the residue doesn’t show signs of smearing, it’s simply vacuumed away.

Restorers can find the best solution for clean-up with this knowledge of protein, natural, and synthetic residues. These classifications are the first step to ensure a successful odor and residue removal. If you have sustained smoke damage in your home or business, please call the Phoenix Team at (402) 964-2232 to discuss deodorizing and cleaning services.