I’ve been told (although by an idiot) that you can prevent creasote build-up in chimeys on wood stoves by putting a tin can in the fire. I’ve also heard of putting aluminum cans in too. Seems to me you’d just end up with a hot can - is there any logic to back this up?

There are things that will loosen creosote, but I never heard of a can doing it.

There are chemicals you can get in the hardware stores to put on a fire. I believe the primary chemical is lye soap, which acts just like Drano on drain scum.

Last this question came up, I asked my friend Ray, who for several years worked as “the tallest chimney sweep in the USA.” He told me that aluminum cans are one of a handful of rural legend creosote cures. None of them work, he said. The only grain of truth is that aluminum won’t melt in the heat of the usual wood fire. If you are running your fire box hot enough to melt aluminum (not a really good idea,) you probably won’t have a creosote problem anyway.

Get your chimney cleaned at least once a year if you use your wood stove regularly. It’s easier and cheaper than a house fire.

Okay, WAG here.

You’re talking about a wood stove, right? With the firebox?

One of the ways you can prevent creosote buildup is by always having hot fires.

When you start a fire in a wood stove, to get the best results, you don’t just dump an armload of wood in there and toss in a match.

Maybe if you’re working around a tin can that’s in there in the firebox, you’re going to pay more attention to how you lay your fire. Also, maybe it makes you separate the pieces of wood, thus making the fire burn better, and hotter, because there’s more oxygen. So because the fire is burning hotter, there’s less creosote buildup in your stovepipe.

Alternatively, maybe the point was to have the fire hot enough to melt the tin can. A hot fire discourages creosote buildup.

It’s my understanding that aluminum can’t be smelted in anything less than industrial conditions, but maybe the rural folks just transferred the “tin can” factoid to aluminum cans when they came on the scene.