Sitting in front of a blazing fire on a winter day is priceless. But your fireplace needs some TLC, and chimney maintenance is an essential part of owning a fireplace. While it’s crucial to call an expert for some of your fireplace maintenance needs, there are some things you can do on your own. If you have a chimney, creosote logs can improve the performance of your chimney. Also known as a chimney sweeping log, there are some misconceptions about this popular product. Find out how they can help you and everything else you should know about using a creosote log.
What Is Creosote?
To understand how creosote logs work, you need to know about creosote. A byproduct of wood combustion, creosote is mostly made of tar. When wood logs burn, the smoke contains creosote. The smoke travels up and hits cold air when the creosote becomes solid and sticks to your chimney.
It might surprise you to know that creosote is what makes meat taste smoky on a barbecue. While you might like creosote to flavor your food, you won’t like what it does to your chimney. Creosote is highly flammable and increases the likelihood of a chimney fire. In addition to ruining your chimney, the fire could spread into your home.
Unfortunately, it’s not hard for creosote to accumulate. It’s a problem that doesn’t disappear by itself – it continues to coat over itself and restricts ventilation. As the ventilation becomes worse, more creosote builds up. It’s a vicious and dangerous cycle.
What Is a Creosote Removing Log?
A creosote log is intended to improve how your fireplace and chimney work. Over time, your chimney and fireplace accumulate a residue left behind by the burning wood. The residue is known as creosote, and it’s a fire danger.
Cleaning the residue requires a chimney sweep. On your own, it’s almost impossible to remove the thick and oily residue. And you probably can’t afford to call the chimney sweep every month. If you want to make your fireplace easier to clean, you should consider using creosote logs to help.
When you burn this type of log, it dries up the creosote film. Then, the film forms off as soot and rests in the firebox. During future cleanings, it won’t take as long to clean the flue thoroughly.
Where to Buy Creosote Logs
Any home improvement store will have creosote logs, often of several brands. If you prefer to shop online, Amazon carries a large stock of the leading brands. Here are two we like:
First Alert Creosote Buster Chimney Cleaning Log
The Creosote Buster Fire log contains a specially formulated powder that when heated converts to a super penetrating gas to attack & breaks down creosote compounds in your chimney to remove dangerous creosote & help prevent chimney fires
CSL Creosote Sweeping Log
Effective and non toxic solution for cleaning your chimney while enjoying your fireplace. Burns like a standard fireplace log, while simultaneously cleaning your chimney. Flammable creosote that builds up along the walls of your chimney are neutralized and removed within 2 weeks. Use every 50 fires for best results.
How Do the Logs Work?
The smoke in creosote logs has additives designed to attach to creosote. As the smoke from your log rises, it binds to all the creosote deposits. When this occurs, a chemical reaction causes the creosote to become flaky. Although it might not make the creosote fall off, the reaction makes the creosote loose enough to be easily scraped from your chimney.
For about two weeks after you burn your creosote log, the remnant chemicals in your chimney will continue to work. Instead of building up, creosote will fall.
Do Creosote Logs Work?
Creosote Logs do work to loosen the creosote and make it easier to clean your chimney. However, these logs are no substitute for a thorough chimney sweep. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, creosote logs are effective products when used in conjunction with a professional chimney sweep.
If you don’t use a creosote log, cleaning your chimney will be extremely difficult. When left alone, creosote becomes slick and hard. Removing the glaze takes time and effort, and even then, some residue could remain. The creosote logs are made of chemicals that make the residue more dry and flaky. When a chimney sweep gets to work, they can remove more of the residue. Your home will be a safer place.
So, creosote logs do work. However, they aren’t a substitute for a chimney sweep. You shouldn’t expect your log to replace the need for professional cleaning completely. A chimney sweep doesn’t only remove residue—they also inspect your chimney for things other than creosote and soot. If there are branches or pests in your chimney, your creosote logs won’t identify them.
Are Creosote Logs Toxic?
If you choose to use a creosote log, you should make sure you don’t breathe in the smoke. If inhaled, the smoke could cause nausea and respiratory irritation. However, you can safely use a log in your fireplace.
To avoid any adverse effects from the log, follow the directions that come with your log. Only use the product as directed.
Do They Smell Bad?
Some creosote logs smell more than others. That said, most creosote logs don’t smell bad. The smell of creosote itself is much more pungent. If you have a tar-like smell when you use your fireplace, you have a creosote build-up.
How Frequently Should You Use Them?
You don’t need to overdo it with your creosote logs. For the best results, you should use one log for every 60 fires.
If you’re not sure how frequently you use your chimney, keep track of every fire. You might hit 60 fires in two months, or it could take longer. Make a record, and you can remind yourself to use one of your creosote logs when you hit 60.
How to Use the Logs
Before you use your log, make sure your chimney and flue are free from debris. If anything is blocking your vent, you’ll have hazardous smoke from the creosote log entering your home.
While you might be tempted to use the log as the first fire of the fall, resist the temptation. It would be best if you burned several fires with your favorite firewood for a few days before you use a creosote log. When you’re ready to use the log, make sure the damper is all the way open. If you have a catalytic combustor, close it and make sure it’s set to inactive. For one to two weeks, leave the combustor in that setting.
Follow the directions on the log’s wrapper. Usually, that means pulling the seams of the wrapper. Light a regular fire and let it die out. When there are only hot embers, place the log on the embers. Never set a log on a full blaze. By placing the log on embers, you prevent smoke from coming back down the chimney.
Most logs take about 45 minutes to work. If you have a large fireplace, you should consider using two logs. However, do not place two logs on hot embers. Doing so will cause them to burn too hot.
Before you use the log, turn off all of your fans, including your HVAC system. A fan could pull the smoke back into your home.
If your log doesn’t light, use a lighter to ignore it. Resist the urge to use lighter fluid or any other flammable liquid to light your log.
Should You Use Creosote Logs?
It’s easy to misunderstand the purpose of creosote logs. After all, the manufacturers often market them as one-step solutions to your chimney maintenance. It’s crucial to realize that this product is not the only step to proper fireplace maintenance. If you want your chimney to be safe and efficient, you also need help from a professional chimney sweep.
A creosote log could be just what you need to keep your chimney working well. In reducing creosote, the logs make your chimney cleaner. There’s less residue blocking the flow of air, and that makes your fireplace safer. The logs also make it easier for a chimney sweep to clean your chimney, which could save you money.
Are creosote logs essential? Maybe not. But they are useful tools for fireplace owners. Have you used a creosote log? If so, tell us about it and comment below!