The author using his chimney flue cleaner.
PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
If you're searching for a quick way to scour out an encrusted section of stovepipe — without purchasing an expensive flue-cleaning kit — look no further than your trash barrel. A discarded metal can that's slightly smaller than your pipe will make an excellent chimney flue cleaner, after a couple of simple modifications. First, trim the lip off the already opened end of the container with a pair of snips to produce a sharp, creosote-cleaning edge. Then form a handle from the bottom of the can by making two 120° cuts — directly opposite each other — with a can opener, and folding the metal under to provide a bridge, with rounded edges, that you can grasp. To put the makeshift "sweep" to work, just push it into the fouled pipe — cutting end first — and work the device through the tube by twisting it back and forth. You'll scrape loose great gobs of creosote, which will fall into the bucket that you've cleverly (I hope!) placed below.