Creosote Remover

Creosote Remover
By: Amy Jacquin

We're on the tail-end of cold weather for this year. It's almost time to clean our fireplaces and chimneys for the summer. A product called Creosote Remover claims to help you remove soot. Should you save the $12 and put it toward a chimney sweep?
Wood fires put off a lot of heat, and a lot of soot. That soot packs the lining of your chimney and puts you at risk for a flu fire. Creosote Remover looks like a powdered laundry detergent, and promises fast, powerful results on the toughest glazed build-ups.
Its makers claims burning just two scoops a week for a month can turn creosote to ash, which flakes off and falls to the bottom for you to scoop out. One scoop a week helps you maintain a cleaner chimney.
Allen Sibley inspects homes for a living. He agreed to test a chimney before and after using creosote remover. "The Home Builders and Inspectors Association recommends that if you have more than 1/8 inch build-up, you should get it professionally cleaned," said Sibley as he looked at our test chimney. "This certainly qualified for that." He takes measurements, samples, and pictures, and scrapes a bunch of black chunks into a cup. Then our test family faithfully follows directions.
More than a month passes, and it's time to see if our product has made any changes inside the chimney. Sibley climbs back up to the chimney and scrapes a sample just like he did the first time.  "The soot and build-up is much more loose and easier to scrape off," explains Sibley. "However, the level is the same in the same amount of space."
So after a month of diligent use, there's still the same amount of creosote lining the chimney. But you can see some difference in the soot itself. The creosote is now flakier than before. "If used on a regular basis, it might decrease the build-up over time, and certainly will make it easier to remove," Sibley summarizes.
Sibley says he'd start with a professional cleaning then use Creosote Remover to stretch out the time between sweeps. So it's not a total waste of $12. And for that, we give Creosote Remover a B-.