Creosote


Creosote is a by-product of a poor Wood Fire and poor FireWood. Creosote has burned down many a house, so it's in your best interests to minimize this bad culprit by using good Wood-burning practices.

Not only does Creosote cause a Fire Hazard, but it can also reduce Draft to the point where Killer Gases may escape into your home.


 

This photo shows hardened Creosote which was removed from a Wood Burner Stove Pipe.

Note the curvature of the large piece on the left. It indicates a 6" diameter and the degree to which the Stove Pipe was plugged.

RULE # 1: Keep your Chimney clean !

Liquid Creosote looks like Tar. Solid Creosote has a texture and appearance somewhat like Coal. It burns with a ferocity surpassing either when assisted by the Draft it creates in a hot Chimney. When you hear of someone having a "Chimney Fire" chances are that they really had a Creosote Fire. There are no combustable materials in a clean Chimney:  

RULE # 2: Burn only dried ("Seasoned") FireWood !
Creosote is caused by warm, moist Smoke which contacts a cool surface and condenses on it. This condensate contains the unburned particles which make Smoke visible. When this condensate dries, another layer can condense on top of the first. Eventually, these layers can completely plug up a poorly designed Chimney or an improperly operated Wood Burner. 

RULE # 3: Keep a HOT fire burning !
Wherever a metal Stove Pipe leaves a heated area and enters a cooler area, there are conditions which may cause the formation of Creosote. A double-layered Stainless Steel Stove Pipe with Insulation between the layers has been designed to minimize these conditions. But its effectiveness is still determined by the amount of heat that goes up the Chimney. A hot Chimney minimizes the condensation of Creosote.


RULE # 4: Keep Fresh Batteries in your Carbon Monoxide Detector(s) !
 
 

The tiny fire on the left is much more efficient and safe than the smoldering mass on the right, even though they may both be providing the same amount of heat (BTUs). Of course, the tiny fire needs more attention to maintain its efficient blaze.
 
 
Creosote is often formed where warm air leaving the flue is met by heavy cool air trying to get to the bottom of the Wood Burner. 

There is turbulance where they collide and condensation is formed on these cooled surfaces.



 

Salt is said to fight Creosote.
Spreading a Cup or so of Table Salt or Rock Salt on a bed of red-hot Coals every few days has been reported to dry out Creosote deposits, causing them to flake off, drop down, and be harmlessly consumed by the fire. How often this treatment is needed would depend on how dry your FireWood is and how hot you maintain your Wood Fire. 

The secret to stopping Creosote is a fire hot enough that minimal Smoke is seen coming from your chimney; the Smoke has been consumed by the Fire. Some Trees produce more Creosote than other species.

TWO Carbon Monoxide Detectors are better than one.
Locate one near the Wood Burning Stove, and the other in your Bedroom. If one quits, you may be very glad for the backup.

If you assemble your Stove Pipe with the small corrugated ends down, it will keep the unsightly and dangerous liquid Creosote inside the Pipe.




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