Creosote Logs Are Key to Keeping Your Chimney Clean and Safe

Allie Ogletree
Written by Allie Ogletree
Updated July 30, 2021
Fireplace burning in a modern living room
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Creosote sweeping logs can loosen the soot in your chimney, improving its performance—as long as they’re used correctly

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Fireplaces are a quintessential winter must-have, but that heartwarming time spent around the fire can make your space look less-than-pristine after heavy cold-weather use. Creosote is the filmy residue deposited in a chimney by burning wood. Not only does it look gunky and totally ruin your cozy aesthetic, but creosote deposits can also be a fire hazard—and they’re a big reason why a wood-burning fireplace needs to be inspected each year. 

That’s where creosote sweeping logs come into play. These logs help clear the gunk by loosening creosote and soot, helping to make your fireplace a cleaner (and safer!) space.

What Do Creosote Sweeping Logs Do?

Creosote sweeping logs (CSL)—also known as creosote chimney logs, chimney sweeping logs, or just sweeping logs—are designed to help loosen the creosote deposits inside of your chimney. By simply burning a creosote log (just as you would with natural wood) in your fireplace, your chimney’s deposit can be cleared more easily, preventing unwanted buildup.

Why Should I Consider Using Sweeping Logs?

If you use an open fire stove, fireplace, or wood-burning stove, chances are you’ve experienced the soot and other compounds building up in the burner’s chimney. These compounds accumulate regardless of what you use to make the fire, though poor airflow and greener or damp firewood increase the amount of smoke.

When the smoke condenses, it sticks to the insides of the chimney, producing creosote. This sticky, tar-like residue poses a fire hazard to you and your loved ones. The worst part: creosote is glue-like and challenging to remove.

Creosote logs are specifically designed to help break down the creosote and residual tar, lowering your chances of experiencing a chimney fire. 

Ultimately, creosote logs are beneficial because they:

  • Help with routine maintenance

  • Stir up dangerous buildups

  • Reduce your likeliness of having a chimney fire

  • Are easy to use

Keep in mind: Though creosote sweeping logs loosen the soot and creosote from your chimney, they are by no means a replacement for your regular chimney cleaning.

How to Use a Creosote Sweeping Log

While it is important to routinely schedule professional chimney sweeps with a local pro, creosote logs are effective at maintaining a cleaner flue between cleanings, making them useful to have around. 

Here’s how to use a creosote sweeping log.

 Real wood fireplace at home
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1. Prepare Your Home

The first thing you should do is ensure your home is safe and ready for burning a creosote sweeping log. Turn off all fans and your A/C or heater. Make sure that all ventilation systems on your stovetop or fireplace are properly installed, close off any lower air intake systems, and check that your fire protection screens are in place.

2. Prepare the Fireplace or Stove

Before you light your sweeping log, it’s a good idea to prepare your fireplace by burning a wood fire first. This helps soften the unwanted compounds in your chimney and pave the way for the creosote log to work its magic. 

If it’s been a while since you’ve used the fireplace, or if it’s been over a year since your last inspection, you’ll also want to get your chimney inspected before lighting that fire.

3. Add the Creosote Sweeping Log to the Embers

You don’t want to put the sweeping log directly onto an open fire because downdrafts can cause the smoke to be pushed downwards from the chimney into your home. Instead, wait for the fire to die down, and put the log on the embers. 

For a small fireplace or woodstove, use one CSL. For a larger fireplace, you may need to use two CSLs. If you do end up using two logs, burn one at a time to prevent excess flames. 

And, if a draft does happen, open some windows to clear out the smoke and ventilate the space.

Do I Still Need to Hire a Chimney Sweep?

In short, yes. Homeowners should still get an annual chimney inspection whether or not they use the fireplace in a given year. 

Soot and creosote aren’t the only things that can get inside chimneys when they’re not in use. Birds, branches, nests, and more can cause your chimney to need a good cleaning, and it’s not always obvious that a chimney is compromised until after burning a fire. 

A professional chimney sweeper can identify and prevent any problems. Expect your professional sweeper to do a thorough inspection and clean your chimney in a way that leaves your home safe for having a cozy fire or cooking experience.

How Much Does a Chimney Sweep Cost?

The cost of a chimney sweep depends on the level of inspection and if you need to have any additional maintenance work. As it stands, it costs around $130 to $380 to hire a professional chimney sweep. For damaged or precarious chimneys, you might find yourself paying as much as $1,000 to $5,000 for a serious inspection.

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