Wood Stove Tips – Cleaning Wood Stove Glass

If soot on the glass of your wood stove is getting you down, here are a few tips you can use to clean things up.

Why Does Wood Stove Glass Get Sooty?

Your wood stove glass usually gets sooty because the conditions in your wood stove are not quite right. Soot forms because either the stove temperature is too low, not enough air is getting to the fire or a combination of both of these.

Your wood stove may be running at low temperatures for many reasons. The most common of these are unseasoned or poorly seasoned wood. Wood that has a moisture content over 20% is usually considered too green to burn as it is hard to light and never burns as well as more seasoned firewood. The cold slow smouldering fire tends to give off sooty smoke which deposits on the glass.

If you close down the air too much on your stove you suffocate the fire and lots of smoke forms which should be being burnt off. This smoke builds up on the wood stove glass door – this is most common in overnight burns as people try to build up the fire then shut the air down for the night. Most modern EPA stoves are not designed to do this is shutting down air to such a degree is quite polluting.

While most modern stoves are designed with an “airwash” which helps keep the glass door clean, older stoves rarely had this and tended to smoke up whatever the conditions in the stove. If you have an older stove with this problem you might consider upgrading to a more modern stove – it is likely to be more efficient at heating, easier to use and have few problems keeping the wood stove glass clean.

How to Clean Wood Stove Glass

If your stove does build up soot there are a few little tricks you can use to get the door clean again.

Some stoves have effectively “self-cleaning glass”. If you open up the air on the stove and get a hot roaring fire going very often the worst of the soot will burn off over the space of half an hour or so. The key is to use very dry wood and allow plenty of air into the firebox. This is unlikely to work in older models of stoves as they may not reach the necessary temperatures or have airflows in the right places.

If this doesn’t work you can try cleaning the glass by hand when the stove is cool. One of the old tricks for cleaning wood stove glass is to get a ball of newspaper, bundle it up and dip it in water. Dip the damp newspaper in the ashes from the fire and then rub the sooty glass vigorously with the newspaper bundle. The ashes act as a gentle abrasive, removing the soot without damaging the glass surface. Once the worst soot is removed “polish” the glass with another piece of dry bundled newspaper to remove the last smears.

Be careful to avoid anything more abrasive as you may put fine scratches into the surface, permanently damaging your stove doors.