Throughout history, people have been burning wood to heat their homes, cook their meals, and set the stage for spooky ghost stories. The great thing about wood, in particular is that it’s renewable: one tree falls and another gets planted and the circle of life goes on.

As awesome as wood is, burning it in your home comes with the unique risk of depositing creosote (a black, tar-like substance) on the insides of your fireplace and chimney. Creosote is gross, it’s flammable, and it’s what causes the majority of chimney fires. If you’re burning wood in your fireplace or stove, there’s no avoiding creosote, but here are two easy ways you can limit the amount produced:

  1. Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood. Ideally, wood should have a moisture content of approximately 15-25%. It can take months of proper storage for it to reach this point. Strange as it may sound, a good way to judge whether or not the wood is dry enough for use is by listening to it
  2. Use a top-down (or “upside down”) burn. Most of us have been taught that the best way to light a fire in the fireplace is by putting the kindling on the bottom, underneath bigger pieces of wood. Here’s a video showing just the opposite.

Want to know more? Check out this page for the best ways to select, store, and burn firewood throughout the year.

jordan prAbout the author: Jordan Whitt is the current Director of Communications and Marketing for the Chimney Safety Institute of America and a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep.  Outside of the CSIA, you’ll occasionally find him doing some public affairs work for the American Red Cross or Indiana Department of Homeland Security. You can email him directly at