Preventing Creosote Buildup In Your Chimney

One of the biggest problems that home owners with chimneys face is the build of creosote within the chimney. Not only is creosote a problem with cleanliness, but if left untouched, it can eventually turn into a dangerous threat to you and your family. This brief article will touch upon what creosote is and what you can do to prevent a buildup of creosote in your chimney.

What Is Creosote?

Creosote is the distillation of tar that comes from burning various carbon laden materials. This is to say that every time you burn basically anything, it will create creosote. As such, when you have a fireplace, or wood burning stove, attached to a chimney, every time that you burn wood or coal, you are creating creosote.

Creosote is not only a problem with cleanliness; it is also quite dangerous. Creosote is incredibly flammable, which means that an excess buildup of the material can lead to potentially dangerous situations in which your home and family might be at risk. According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), by letting creosote build in your chimney, you are putting yourself at an exponentially large risk for a house fire. The NFPA highly recommends having your chimney inspected at least once a year for creosote buildup and to discover whether or not your home could be considered at risk for a creosote burn out.

How To Minimize Creosote

"Preventing" creosote is perhaps a bit of a misnomer, since every time a product is burned, it creates the presence of creosote, but you can minimize the appearance of creosote by doing a few things. 

First and foremost, avoid slow burning fire. Smoldering fires contribute to creosote buildup much more than a clean, fast burning fire. Don't burn newly cut wood. Unseasoned wood is full of moisture, which contributes greatly to the build-up of creosote.  It usually takes anywhere from six months to a year for wood to dry out and become seasoned and ripe for burning.

Ensure that your fire has plenty of air to breathe, that means avoiding fireplace inserts or doors for your fireplace, which tend to restrict airflow. If airflow is restricted creosote will build up much faster within your fireplace. 

Try to make your fire as hot as possible, and stay away from fires that are weak, slow-burning fires. If your fire is hot, it is more likely that the by-products of the fire will be burned by the hot fire rather than escaping the fire and traveling up your chimney to create creosote. The better the combustion, the less creosote that will be created. 

Prepackaged, artificial logs are known for being slow burning disasters that contribute to creosote buildup significantly more than actual timber. Make sure that your fire is receiving plenty of oxygen, which can contribute it to being a cleaner, quick burning fire. Fireplace inserts and wood burning stoves with glass doors tend to constrict the amount of air that a fire can receive. If your chimney is largely outside of your house, you may want to take into consideration getting it insulated. An insulated chimney is able to better contain and self clean the creosote that is deposited inside of it.

​You should also brush away any first appearances of creosote, usually flakey looking soot that is easy to remove, before it has the chance to build-up into harder to remove forms of creosote. 

Creosote buildup can become a huge problem. If left untreated, it can cause a hazardous situation where your house can become a veritable combustion unit, ripe for destruction. By following some of these preventative measures listed above, and with help from sites like, you should be able to minimize the buildup of this dangerous substance in no time flat, however.