Between chimney sweeping: what about chemical cleaners?
A fireplace can set more than passions aflame. Its real by-product is creosote, the sticky soot that clings to and gradually builds up inside the chimney. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, creosote is the prime cause of nearly 50,000 fires in home chimneys each year, including those connected to fireplaces and solidfuel stoves. If the creosote isn't periodically cleaned off, it can ignite without warning. When it does catch fire, it can bubble out like lava and set the roof on fire.
Several products claim to prevent creosote buildup. These are chemical powders or liquids that you sprinkle or spray over the logs. While the fire is burning, the chemicals react with those produced by the fire so that fuel can burn more completely and less soot will form. And though they might change the color of the fire a little, they produce no toxic fumes.
Different types of additives are made for masonry or metal fireplaces. They're sold at fireplace supply stores or at hardware stores that stock fireplace equipment; prices range from $3.50 to $7 per pint. How much you use depends on the type of fireplace. Follow the label instructions carefully each brand has a recommended application.
Do they work? To a degree. Predictably, chimney sweeps throughout the West do not favor their uses. Both the Wood Heating Alliance and the National Fire Protection Agency say that, though some manufacturers claim otherwise, these products can only reduce the amount of creosote a fire produces, not eliminate it. They are not meant as chimney cleaners you can't hope to have good results without first having cleaned your chimney. And for that story, see page 96 of the November 1980 Sunset.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 1984|
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