How To Burn Off Creosote In 5 Simple Steps

If you own a fireplace or some other type of wood-burning heating system, then you will have to deal with creosote. Creosote buildup is common in chimneys that are not cleaned and managed properly. This is a highly combustible material that needs to be dealt with and burned off your chimney as soon as possible.

To burn off creosote, you need to make sure that you burn a hot fire when using your fireplace or other wood-burning appliances. In addition, you can burn off creosote by using a combination of high-temperature and aluminum cans to get rid of this tar-like substance.

We’ll talk more about how you can get rid of creosote by burning it. We will also tell you why creosote forms and how you can prevent the buildup of this substance in your fireplace and other wood-burning appliances.

How Exactly Do You Burn Off Creosote?

To burn creosote out of your chimney, you will need to make sure that you build a hot and steady fire. There are many ways to do this, but we recommend using aluminum cans to get the right temperature and get the creosote out of your chimney.

Step 1

The first step of this process is to start up your fire. You will need some newspaper or some other type of paper to kindle a small fire. Then gather some smaller pieces of wood. Once you have your materials, start to light them. You can light a roll of paper or kindling then put it into your fireplace.

Step 2

Next, you are going to want to build up the fire. As the kindling and paper get hotter, you can add in more wood. You want to do this carefully and make sure that you don’t smother the fire by adding too much wood all at once.

Slowly add in your material, and make sure that the wood is dry. You can light up more rolls of paper and put them into the flames to make your fire hotter.

Step 3

The next step is simple, watch over your fire and continue to build it up. You want to have a steady fire that is at least 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a wood stove thermometer to check the temperature if you are not sure if it is hot enough.

Step 4

Once the fire is at the right temperature, you can begin adding in your aluminum cans. You should only need a few cans. And, again, you want to add this into your fire carefully and gradually. This will prevent you from overloading your fireplace.

You can even go outside and check if the cans are burning the creosote away. You will see heavy smoke coming off your chimney, which is a sign that the aluminum is helping. You can also refill your fire a few times for a thorough cleaning. Then, move on to the next step.

Step 5

The combination of the hot fire and magnesium in the cans will help burn out the creosote. Still, the creosote won’t just disappear on its own; it will turn flaky and will have to be swept up by hand.

After you are done putting out the fire, make sure to clean out your fireplace and chimney. If you have a wood stove, creosote powder can also get stuck in the stovepipe and elbow. Make sure to clean this up well.

What Is Creosote And Is It Dangerous?

We talked about how you can burn off creosote from your wood-burning appliances and fireplace, but what exactly is creosote, and why does it build up? Creosote is a dangerous substance that causes chimney fires and combustion. This tar-like material is flammable and is produced by the gases that are released from burning wood.

In other words, when you burn a lot of wood over time, the gases from the wood will create creosote build-up and can create a potential fire hazard. This is why it is so important for you to burn creosote off regularly. Creosote will not build up as easily when you burn hot fires of 250 degrees or more.

You still want to be careful. When there is a lot of creosote in your chimney or appliances, and you heat it up to extreme temperatures, it can create huge fires.  

How Can You Prevent Creosote From Building Up?

There are a few ways you can keep creosote build-up from happening. Burning creosote with aluminum cans is a great way to get rid of it, but as the saying goes, ‘preventing is better than curing‘. Still, there are other methods to consider.

Burn Wood That Is Properly Dried Out

First off, the type of wood you burn in your fireplace and appliances is important. If you burn up any wood that has a lot of moisture, this will create excess smoke. And, the more your wood smokes, the more creosote will form.

To prevent excess build-up of creosote, we recommend using wood that has been dried for a longer amount of time. Wood that has been dried for at least six to twelve months is ideal and will create less moisture and smoke. You should also avoid using artificial logs, as this type of burning material is very smoky.

Make Sure To Ventilate Your Fire Well

Another way you can prevent creosote buildup is by ventilating your wood fires well. A better-ventilated fire creates hotter flames. And, if your fire is hotter, this can help prevent creosote from forming and sticking in your chimney or appliances.

Use Creosote Dissolving Powders

In addition to using aluminum cans, you can also try to burn off creosote by using creosote-dissolving powders. This type of powder will get rid of creosote buildup easily, as well. You simply add it to your fire.

Burn Your Fire Steady And Hot

We have talked about this throughout the post, but you want a strong and steady flame to prevent creosote buildup. Don’t have a low flame that smolders. Instead, create fires that burn hot and strong. You will know that your fire is burning well if it doesn’t go out easily and if it doesn’t smolder and look like it is dying.

Dan Westfield

Hi everyone! My name is Dan and I currently have two fireplaces, a wood-burning and a gas one. I cannot live without them and love to share my passion with you all!

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