Creosote creates an ongoing maintenance need for those who enjoy using wood-burning appliances. Recognizing this need, the market supplies a number of products advertised to ameliorate your creosote woes. One of these products is creosote sweeping logs. Also known as chimney sweeping logs, they’re designed to keep your chimney cleaner by causing creosote to flake off and fall to the firebox, where it can be safely and easily swept up. But here’s the big question –  are creosote sweeping logs effective?

What Is Creosote? Is It Harmful?

black, tar-y creosote in a metal pipeWhen you burn firewood, byproducts of combustion are released in the form of smoke. These byproducts condense on the walls of your chimney as they cool, forming a dark, tarry substance called creosote. Soot and creosote continue to build up over time, and they won’t go away without intervention. Highly combustible and not good for your health, you definitely don’t want creosote to stay there!

You can help slow the accumulation of creosote in your chimney flue. Being intentional about burning exclusively well seasoned firewood for better, cleaner combustion and hotter fires will minimize smoke, reducing the rate at which creosote amasses. However, some soot and creosote build up will occur even when you build your fires with care.

Can Creosote Sweeping Logs Replace a Sweeping?

Creosote sweeping logs are a chemical cleaner. You can pick them up for $15-$30 at most home supply stores and burn them in a similar way as regular firewood. When burned, they release smoke that chemically changes the creosote in your chimney flue, loosening it so it’ll release itself from the walls of your chimney and fall out. Let cool and remove. 

Helpful, right? Well, yes and no.

Yes, there will be a reduction in the amount of creosote stuck to your chimney walls. But remember that creosote sweeping logs won’t actually remove creosote from your system, it will just loosen and relocate it. If you’re diligent about immediately sweeping the released flakes from your flue, some of that creosote will be removed, which is great. However…

No, creosote sweeping logs won’t do what actually sweeping your chimney does. Many chimneys are not a straight vertical drop. If your chimney has bends due to the placement of your fireplace in the room, creosote particulates can drift in the bends. Even if your chimney is straight, flaked creosote can amass on the smoke shelf, which can be quite difficult to access without the proper tools. So one risk of relying too heavily on creosote sweeping logs – in other words, relying on them as a primary means of keeping your chimney clear – is that you may not be removing creosote, just relocating it inside your flue. In that case, the problem might be reduced, but it still remains a problem.

It’s also important to keep in mind that creosote is not the only undesirable substance that can take up residence in your chimney. Creosote sweeping logs will not help with other obstructions, such as twigs, leaves, animal interference, and other debris that can become hazards in your chimney. Blocks in your chimney are not only potentially combustible, they diminish exhaust. This is a significant safety issue, as proper venting is necessary to draw smoke and gases out of your living space.

The Final Word on Creosote Sweeping Logs

So what’s the final word on creosote sweeping logs?

logs burning bright and redCreosote sweeping logs can be helpful to use between professional chimney sweepings. But because they don’t actually remove soot and creosote, it’s still necessary to schedule routine cleanings with a certified technician, even if you use sweeping logs. A professional chimney sweep technician will be equipped with brushes, rods, and HEPA vacuums – and, of course, skills, knowledge, and experience – to eliminate creosote and any other hazards from your chimney flue.

Chimney sweeping isn’t the only benefit of scheduling with a professional technician. You’ll also gain a distinctly human touch – expert eyes and hands examining your system for leaks, deterioration, damage, or other potential issues. In the case of home system maintenance, ignorance is not bliss. When you stay on top of care and maintenance issues, you can be proactive about minimizing and eliminating potential problems that can otherwise grow to be more time-consuming and expensive to address.

Well Offer a Well-Rounded Approach to Chimney Care

Diligence in chimney system care pays off. So make sure your approach is well-rounded.

  • Select firewood that’s well-cured, avoiding green or damp wood.
  • Maintain a level of ash that insulates your firebox, but won’t smother your fires.
  • Take measures to help keep your fireplace clear of obstructions.
  • If you notice anything that’s concerning as you use your fireplace, give your technician a call.
  • You can also use creosote sweeping logs as part of your maintenance practices, if you wish.

But beyond these good practices, don’t neglect enlisting the help of a professional chimney sweep technician for annual inspections and frequent professional chimney sweepings. Ready to schedule? Call or reach out online today.