How to Melt Solid Creosote

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A hot fire is best for melting creosote.
A hot fire is best for melting creosote. (Image: fireplace with iron lattice image by Nikolay Okhitin from Fotolia.com)

Creosote is a natural byproduct of burning wood, especially when the wood is green or unseasoned. It is also present in some soil as a component of petroleum. In most cases, melting solid creosote is a concern for those who use wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. Creosote that builds up in a chimney can ignite rapidly and suddenly, potentially causing house fires, so melting solid creosote regularly and efficiently is important. Before attempting to melt solid creosote, have the chimney professionally cleaned to remove any dangerous or extensive creosote buildup.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Fireplace
  • Kindling
  • Matches
  • Dry wood

Compress the newspaper into balls of various densities. Loose newspaper balls will light easily. Tight newspaper balls will burn longer. Place the newspaper balls in an even layer on the bottom of the fireplace.

Place kindling on top of the newspaper balls, stacked evenly and with plenty of air flow between the sticks. Arranging the kindling like a teepee creates the necessary conditions for proper ignition.

Light the newspaper balls with a match. Use as many matches as necessary to ignite the paper and the pile of kindling. Add more kindling until the fire is burning well.

Add smaller pieces of the dry wood to the fire to feed the flames and build the heat inside the fireplace.

Add larger pieces of the dry firewood to the fireplace. In order to melt solid creosote efficiently and safely, a very hot fire is necessary. Creosote has a flash point of 200 degrees F.

Stoke the fireplace or fire pit with dry firewood until there is a rapid and hot fire burning. Allow this to burn freely until the wood is consumed. The consistent, hot, clean fire will safely melt creosote.

Repeat this process monthly when the fireplace is in use to prevent excessive creosote accumulation in the chimney.

Tips & Warnings

  • Have a professional chimney cleaning at least once a season to ensure that your chimney does not have excessive solid creosote build up. Your chimney professional will indicate whether it is safe to melt the creosote in this manner or whether additional intervention is necessary.
  • Never melt creosote in a chimney that hasn't been properly cleaned. Excessive creosote buildup can ignite swiftly and quickly, shooting flaming creosote onto the chimney and sparking a house fire.
  • Keep water nearby to extinguish any fires that get out of hand.

References

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