Creosote Burning Logs: What Are They & Do They Work?

dark creosote in a metal chimney pipeManaging the cleanliness of a chimney is an ongoing maintenance requirement for those who have wood burning fireplaces and stoves. It’s not just about looks, but about safety. Left alone, chimneys will begin to accumulate soot and creosote, as well as potential debris, and these can act as fire hazards and create issues with ventilation.

What exactly is creosote? It’s a dark, tarry substance that is produced as a result of burning wood or other organic materials. Creosote consists of various chemicals including tar, soot, and other volatile organic compounds – and it is highly combustible. Untended, it drastically increases the risk of chimney fires and can eventually find its way into your living space. Over time, it becomes more stubborn and difficult to get out of your chimney. Thus, the necessity of having it frequently removed.

Enter the creosote burning log. This is a product designed to help keep your chimney cleaner. But does it work?

What Are Creosote Burning Logs?

Creosote burning logs, also marketed as “chimney cleaning logs” or “creosote sweeping logs,” are specially formulated logs that claim to reduce or eliminate creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes. They are typically made from a combination of sawdust, paraffin wax, and other additives and work as a chemical cleaner.

When burned in a wood burning appliance, the chemicals they release are designed to react with creosote and help break it down. The idea is that this chemical attack will make creosote loose, flaky, and easy to remove.

Are Creosote Sweeping Logs Effective?

So, do creosote logs live up to the hype? The answer is a qualified yes – in other words, it is effective in some ways, but you will want to be sure you’ve managed your expectations. If you’re expecting a totally clean chimney with no other effort expended, you’ll be disappointed. However, creosote logs do have an effect on creosote.

As a chemical cleaner, creosote logs will do some work at making creosote more removable and cause some – maybe much – of the creosote to flake away. Because creosote is tough, this can be a really useful step towards a clean flue!

But it won’t actually remove or stop creosote from forming. You’ll have to give due diligence to carefully removing any flaked creosote from your firebox, flue, smoke chamber, or thimble area, since it can be a hazard in your home environment.

And keep in mind that since burning a creosote log becomes an unguided process, once the smoke starts moving up the flue, you don’t have control over where flaked creosote goes or how much is removed. It can drift into bends or other hard-to-access areas of your chimney system, possibly moving – but not eliminating – the problem.

Can Creosote Burning Logs Replace Professional Sweeping?

Creosote burning logs should never be viewed as a substitute for professional chimney sweeping. While they may help reduce creosote buildup to some extent, they aren’t a comprehensive solution to chimney maintenance. Having an experienced, CSIA certified technician sweep your chimney remains essential because:

  • Cleaning will be thorough. Professional sweeps have both the knowledge and tools to thoroughly clean chimneys, removing all types of creosote and other debris to help ensure optimal airflow and safety. They’ll be attentive to your particular system and employ targeted solutions to getting it clear.
  • Professional sweeps go beyond cleaning. Your chimney should be inspected every year to identify potential issues such as cracks, damaged components, or structural problems. These are things a trained technician will monitor and identify and a creosote log, of course, can’t address. But because attending to issues when they’re small helps keep your chimney running more efficiently, more safely, and longer, ignoring them can be very costly.

Chimney Sweeping Log Safety Considerations

Creosote burning logs are deemed safe for use in your fireplace by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). But while they offer some benefits in terms of reducing creosote buildup – and aren’t hazardous in themselves – it can be hazardous to put too much faith in them and therefore overlook their limitations.

logs burning in a brick fireboxOne such limitation is their overall effectiveness. The efficacy of creosote burning logs can vary depending on a number of factors, such as how often you use your fireplace, the type of wood burned, appliance design, and chimney configuration. If heavy buildup is already present or creosote is of a particularly stubborn composition, these logs may not effectively break it down. And without a careful assessment, it will be nearly impossible to know whether burning the log has been adequately successful or not. And if it hasn’t, the risks remain in play.

Keep in mind as well that while creosote logs are formulated to attack creosote, they aren’t necessarily removing any other type of blockage. So if leaves, twigs, or other types of debris have made their way into your flue, burning a creosote log won’t address these and lead to safe ventilation.

Can I Keep Creosote From Building Up in the First Place?

While the accumulation of creosote is accelerated by burning firewood that’s not properly seasoned (such as damp or green wood), even clean-burning wood fires will eventually contribute to build up because combustion will never be one hundred percent complete each time. So for those who use wood-burning appliances, diligent removal will be the best strategy for managing creosote. 

Schedule a Chimney Sweep With Us Today

Burning creosote logs can offer a supplementary approach to reducing creosote deposits in chimneys and stovepipes, but they can’t replace professional maintenance, including your chimney sweeping. Homeowners should continue to prioritize regular chimney maintenance – think inspections and sweepings – performed by certified professionals to help mitigate risks, maintain efficiency, and protect their investment in their home.

If you need chimney care, book with Lords Chimney today by calling or reaching out online. We’ve got your back.

What Are Different Types of Chimney Caps?

Your chimney is an important part of creating a home full of cozy heat and free of smoke. What many don’t realize is that there are a number of different components to a chimney that allow it to function at its best. One of the most important parts of your chimney is the chimney cap. Sitting atop your chimney system, the chimney cap is providing multiple important functions for your home.

What Does a Chimney Cap Do?

masonry chimney with a single flue chimney capThe chimney cap sits above the opening of your chimney’s flue where it prevents water, birds and debris from entering your home. It also keeps animals that are looking for a warm and dry place to build a nest from becoming your live-in neighbor. In addition to keeping things out, it also allows smoke and other byproducts that come from burning to escape, so that your home remains properly ventilated and warm.

Because it is such an important part of your chimney system it is important to make sure your chimney cap is properly installed and free of defects. Loose, bent, corroded, or improperly installed chimney caps can cause expensive damage if not corrected. At Lords Chimney, we are experts at spotting defects and making sure your chimney is functioning at its most efficient capacity.

All that being said, sometimes you might need to upgrade or replace your chimney cap. So, which type is right for your needs?

5 Types of Chimney Caps

Fortunately there are many different types of chimney caps available. This means that whether you are updating your chimney cap to match the look of a remodel or replacing a chimney cap due to damage, there is a chimney cap for your needs. Here are five types of chimney caps and why they might be the perfect fit for you.

1. Single-Flue Cap

The single-flue cap is perfect for chimneys with only one flue. It is designed to cover the one opening and provide a protective barrier against rain, snow, and debris. These caps can be made from many different metals such as stainless steel, copper, or galvanized steel. They are durable and cost-effective. They provide basic essential protection to your chimney, while remaining durable and affordable.

2. Multi-Flue Cap

The multi-flue cap is designed specifically to cover chimneys with multiple vents. There are a wide variety of designs and materials available, so that they can be customized to fit over several flues at once. For homeowners with multiple flues, these caps offer a more affordable solution for protection than purchasing and installing multiple single-flue caps.

3. Outside Mount Cap

The outside mount cap is installed directly on top of the chimney crown. Its design extends beyond the edges of the chimney which results in additional protection against damaging moisture. This cap is also wider which allows it to push water further away from the chimney. You can find these caps designed for both single-flue and multi-flue chimneys, and they offer a simple installation process.

4. Specialty Caps

Specialty caps are perfect for chimneys with a unique build. They are specially designed with individual chimneys in mind. These caps often offer specific functionalities to enhance protection for the chimney. For example:

  • heavy rain beating down on a roof with trees in the backgroundWind-resistant caps: These caps are designed to further prevent downdrafts caused by strong winds by redirecting airflow. This is important for your chimney to be able to allow smoke to rise up and out like it should.
  • Spark arrestor caps: These caps are a great choice for homes or cabins that are built in locations that are prone to wildfires. Their design minimizes the chance of sparks from the inside rising up and out with the smoke and then landing on flammable roofing materials.
  • Draft-increasing caps: Sometimes the design of a chimney doesn’t allow it to vent smoke and fumes as well as it should. These caps create a vacuum effect within the chimney which draws the smoke and fumes up and out at a higher volume.
  • Decorative caps: Decorative caps provide homeowners with special designs to match the aesthetics of their home. While still fully functional, they may be formed into various shapes and sizes, as well as use different materials to compliment the look and feel of the surrounding architecture.

5. Full-Coverage Caps/Covers

Full-coverage caps are also known as chase covers and they are built to fully cover the chimney in its entirety, so as to provide the maximum protection possible. They are most often installed over prefabricated or factory built chimneys in order to fully keep out moisture, animals, and downdrafts. These caps/covers almost provide the best value to homeowners, as they provide comprehensive protection, look great, are easily installed, and last a long time.

Count On Our Experts Every Time

Lords Chimney offers you a team of experts who have a lot of experience helping people find the perfect chimney cap to provide protection for the chimney, keep the home dry and warm, and look great – all at the same time.

Call us today or book with us online to learn how we can help you make sure your chimney is capped to perfection.