How to Make a Creosote Remover
If you have a working fireplace in your house, creosote remover is a must. Creosote is a result of burning wood. You can usually see the brown, sticky substance on your chimney bricks. Although you may think it just adds color to the stucco, this substance is toxic and if you let enough of it build up, you will not be able to remove it and will have to have your chimney replaced. Nonetheless, ridding your house of creosote and keeping it out is a fairly easy process. Here are all the steps you need to make sure your home is creosote-free.
Step 1 - Scrape
Especially if the creosote buildup is thick, try scraping the buildup off the surface before you try to clean it. Many different tools can be effective for this step, including a putty knife or masonry trowel. If you are working on glass, make sure to cover the tool's edge with tape so that you don't scratch or damage the glass.
Step 2 - Scrub
First, try to scrub the creosote buildup with a steel brush, a brush especially made for chimneys, or even try a Brillo pad. The only way to get rid of creosote is to remove it with elbow grease. Do not try to burn it off because that won't work. Other things will burn, but the creosote will remain.
Step 3 - Mix Up Creosote Remover
The next thing you'll need to do is make some creosote remover. For a natural solution, get some baking soda and mix it with water until it forms a paste. Apply that to the creosote-stained bricks and scrub until you see it begin to lift. Rinse with water afterward. It's best to first try your homemade creosote remover on a small patch of brick to see what results it yields before using it on your entire chimney.
There are commercial creosote removers on the market as well, and while they can be effective, they usually possess some harsh chemicals. If you are nervous about using a chemical creosote remover, first try the baking soda paste, and then only use a commercial remover as a last resort.
Step 4 - Maintain and Prevent Future Buildup
The best thing you can do to make sure creosote does not accumulate in your chimneys and fireplaces is to burn the right kind of wood. Any wood that is too wet and has not been dried or seasoned will contribute to buildup in your house. Also, making sure that your fireplace is as clean as possible when you use it can be the best prevention. Clean the parts of the fireplace you can reach several times a year, especially during those times when you use the fireplace the most. Use any stove or fireplace cleaners that you can buy in a home improvement store on a regular basis and let a professional chimney sweep give your fireplace a thorough cleaning at least once a year.