And this is why I worry about creosote…

I woke this morning feeling not good at all – I’ve had occasional migrains all through my adult life but this the first time I remember waking up with one. No headache, that always comes later if at all, but a general fuzziness and inability to focus my eyesight or hearing – like I can hear words but the sentences make no sense.

Anyway, I stumbled through the morning routine. It wasn’t very cold at rising but there was the beginning of what turned into a terrific windstorm, the temperature dropped and now it’s snowing, and even though the thermometer said it wasn’t really cold enough for a fire I felt cold so I not only lit the woodstove but stoked it hard. Which meant that by the time we returned from our shortened (wow, the wind) morning walkie the cabin was stifling. The fire had taken hold more fiercely than I normally allow, and I got to wondering what the chimney temperature was.

I have a magnetic thermometer I don’t usually use, since it’s a topic over which I choose not to obsess. And with everything as hot as I ever remember letting it get, this is what it said…

…or barely in the “good” range less than a foot above the stove collar.

People sometimes ask if I couldn’t use the top of the woodstove to cook, or boil or even distill water and my answer is that in another setting I probably could but in my situation the stove rarely burns all that long or all that hot. The main cabin is only 200 square feet, and even with its high ceiling it doesn’t take long to get comfortably warm when I’m in my winter clothes. It’s pretty easy to get too warm. In this case, by the time the stovepipe situation was what is conventionally considered happy, I was stripping off layers and cursing the heat.

So I compromise by scrubbing the stovepipe a lot.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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4 Responses to And this is why I worry about creosote…

  1. Mike says:

    Joel, considering what you stand to lose, you have ever right to worry about a stovepipe fire. It’s not like you can pick up a phone and the local fire department will grace you with their presence withing a few minutes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    External fireplace. Problem solved. You’re welcome.

  3. Richard says:

    Creosote condenses on cool temp stovepipes, builds up, etc. so the usual plan is keep stovepipe temp high enough to prevent condensation. Which we know works.

    But what about velocity? The thermometer indicates your stovepipe temp is “slightly above minimums” but you have a fairly short and straight stovepipe on a non-airtight stove with good draw. Could it be that a lower-than-ideal temperature could be tolerated because exhaust velocity is high enough the creosote doesn’t get a chance to condense?

  4. Kentucky says:

    Not sure of a connection between the chimney situation and the headache??

To the stake with the heretic!