Creosote build-up is a natural occurrence in chimneys that are used regularly. Creosote is highly combustible, thus it is important to understand what causes it, and what can be done to prevent its build-up.
Creosote build-up occurs when wood and other materials are burned at a low temperature. When coal and wood is not burned down completely, creosote is emitted and can cling to your chimneys. The more creosote build-up that occurs (sometimes up to several inches in your chimney) the less likely it is that the wood in your fireplace will burn at a hotter temperature, making more creosote. Because of this, your chimney must be professionally cleaned regularly. You can also reduce the occurrence of creosote build-up by making sure your fires are burning very hot, by only burning wood that has been seasoned, and by not burning coniferous wood such as pine and spruce. Removing creosote deposits is the best way to prevent a fire hazard in your chimney, and the best way to keep your fireplace burning hot and efficiently all winter long.