Difference Between Creosote and Soot
When wood burns in a stove or fireplace, it gives off combustion byproducts such as smoke, ash and wood particles. As air currents carry these contaminants away from the fire, they settle as soot or creosote deposits in the fire compartment, stove pipe or chimney. These deposits are harmful when they block airflow or catch fire at a later time.
Regular chimney or stovepipe maintenance is the most reliable way to remove creosote and soot. The deposits are scrubbed off with chimney scrubbers or stovepipe brushes. Stovepipes may be disassembled for cleaning, but brick chimneys are fixed and typically cleaned by scrubbing downward with a chimney brush from the roof and upward from the firebox with a wire brush. Homeowners are sometimes tempted to build a hot fire to burn out the creosote deposits. This is not wise because the creosote may burn as an extremely hot fire in the chimney and damage the chimney and house structure.