Discover the Dangers of Creosote & Soot

Is Soot Similar to Creosote?

Soot and creosote are byproducts of burning wood. They both accumulate in the flue liner of fireplaces and wood stoves. However creosote is unique in that it is mostly tars produced as a result of incomplete combustion of wood. Soot on the other hand, can result from the poor combustion of oil and gas as well as wood.

Visit our post What is Creosote to dig into the nitty gritty of creosote!

Is Soot Dangerous?

Soot and creosote (along with some other nasties like feces from animal infestations) are topical and inhalation hazards, that chimney sweeps must be aware of and avoid when working on chimneys and fireplaces.

Can Creosote Be Burned Out of a Chimney Flue?

Creosote build-up is greatest from smoldering fires draft through a cool chimney flue. If the chimney is insulated properly and fires are allowed to burn at a proper temperature, then creosote is minimized.

Once a chimney has a creosote build-up of 1/8-inch, the danger of a chimney fire increases. If a creosote chimney fire occurs, the result is frequently flue damaged and risk the fire spreading to the walls behind the chimney or embers reaching the roof.

Watch a video of what happens to your chimney during a flue fire!

Why is Soot Falling Into the Fireplace?

Both Creosote and soot can build up on the damper, smoke chamber and flue liner. Then begin to loosen and fall into the firebox. This is a sure indication that the fireplace needs cleaning and the chimney needs sweeping. 

Learn more about our Chimney Sweeping Services

Chimney Soot and the Dangers of Creosote

“A little soot outside the fireplace is no big deal right?”


Soot and creosote dangers are real. Both substances naturally accumulate in fireplaces and flues, that’s why you need a chimney sweep every year, to check things out and sweep away any excessive deposits.

Although steps can be taken to minimize deposits, soot is often found in fireplace hearths and creosote in wood-stove chimneys. If cleaned on an annual basis, then the risk and consequences of an unsafe build-up of soot and creosote are reduced.

Chimney Soot and Creosote Dangers Lurking Inside Your Flue

Chimney Soot Lurking Inside Your Flue

Regular maintenance helps your fireplace and chimney operate at peak performance.

Creosote is the byproduct of combustion of wood-burning fireplaces and stoves. A little creosote is expected to show up in the firebox with each fire.

While a little bit of creosote and soot is normal, there are abnormal areas where if soot is appearing then it indicates a dangerous situation is developing.

A small amount inside the firebox is expected but too much soot is NOT a good sign!

Watch for Warning Signs

Soot and creosote stains are warning signs that something is off and the chimney system is not functioning properly.

For example:
If smoke stains appear on your fireplace mantle, then take warning and have your fireplace inspected.
If creosote drains down the side of your chimney cap, then there is something going on warrants a chimney inspection.

Sooty Warning of Danger!

Soot above fireplace is a warning sign that your Chimney is in trouble and your home is in Danger.

A fireplace mantle should not have ANY signs of smoke stains on it.

Even if the mantle soot stains took years to appear, those smudges of black indicate your fireplace is not drafting properly. Head this warning because it is a very dangerous sign, because the exhaust that made those stains, also contains carbon monoxide.

Remember, creosote and soot are byproducts of combustion. It comes from incomplete combustion and even if you try to burn only seasoned wood, some build up is inevitable. As with all fuels, so it is true with natural gas and wood fuels: if the fuel-air mixture is off, then soot and other byproducts are produced.

Since complete combustion is impossible in the real world, your goal must be:

  • Verify that the equipment is installed and operated in accordance with operational instructions.
  • You MUST follow the manufacturer’s instructions in regards to annual servicing.
  • Be aware of signs of malfunction, issues that could result in a shorter service life, poor efficiency, fire or carbon monoxide dangers.

When chimney soot & creosote dangers become visible, it’s a warning that you could be at risk!

Chimney Soot Above Fireplace is a Warning Sign

Chimney Soot Above Fireplace is a Warning Sign

Responsible chimney and fireplace maintenance is the best solution to soot and creosote issues.

Allow Full Service Chimney to be your friend in the chimney service business. We can help with all your chimney sweeping and fireplace cleaning needs.

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