How to prevent soot buildup in wood stoves

Updated February 21, 2017

Wood stoves are an economical way to heat your home, especially if you can get free wood instead of having to pay for it. One of the problems with wood stoves is that soot and creosote can build up inside the wood stove. This build-up could eventually cause a fire to occur. You can prevent soot build-up by carefully choosing the wood you burn or by burning specially manufactured products to reduce the soot on the inside walls of your wood stove.

Choose wood, such as hardwood, that does not produce as much soot or creosote as other woods. Do not burn pine, as it produces a lot more soot than other types of wood.

Keep your damper open to keep your fire burning at a higher temperature. Burn your fire hot enough to completely burn the wood. This helps to prevent soot and creosote from building up.

Make sure the wood you burn is very dry, as burning wood that is still green can also add to the build-up of soot and creosote.

Check the flue to make sure it is the proper size for your stove. Make sure that the stovepipe is long enough to reach some distance up your chimney, thus making the smoke rise instead of possibly coming back into your stove and building up soot.

Hire a chimney sweep to come and clean out your chimney each fall before you begin burning wood in your stove. This will get rid of any build-up of soot in the chimney. Have the chimney sweep also check your stove and its pipes to make sure they are clean and free of debris.

Empty the stove of ash often --- at least once a week if you use the stove constantly for heating your home. Use a fireplace shovel and a metal bucket to remove any ash that could cause soot to build up along the walls of your stove.

Use a wire brush to clean the inside of your stove whenever you notice that the soot is building up on its walls. Make sure the stove is completely cool before you scrub it with a wire brush.

Purchase and burn a manufactured product that reduces the amount of soot and creosote build-up. Burn one of these products each month if you constantly burn wood to heat your home during the winter.


Purchase a new EPA-approved wood stove, especially if your stove is very old or the soot and creosote problems continue. Homemade wood stoves are also not the best for home use. Homemade stoves usually do not have the ventilation system that manufactured stoves have. Make sure smoke can properly draw upward through the chimney to prevent the build-up of soot.

Things You'll Need

  • Hardwoods
  • Fireplace shovel
  • Metal bucket
  • Wire brush
  • Burn-clean product
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