Mother's Creosote Catching Ash Trap

Adding an ash trap to the chimney pipe — all you need is a welding torch and some canning jars — will give you a wood stove that's safer and easier to clean.


| November/December 1980


Let's admit it: Wood stoves may save their owners lots of money on heating bills, consume a renewable fuel, and provide a soul-soothing heat no radiator or hot-air duct will ever match ... but the logburners do have a few drawbacks. And one of the biggest disadvantages to heating with wood is an inevitable byproduct of combustion that coats the inside of your chimney and loves to drip onto the floor.

I'm referring — of course — to that agent of dangerous chimney fires, that scourge that keeps you cleaning out your stovepipes a lot more often than you'd like to, that sometimes liquid, sometimes solid mass of black that has a mission to mar and stain, and generally endanger your health and well-being ... that's right, creosote!

But wait! While it may be true that no woodburner can avoid producing the sooty substance, it's possible to make the problem a whole lot easier to deal with simply by building MOTHER EARTH NEWS' handy creosote catching ash trap. Fastened underneath the elbow of an ordinary across-and-up run of stovepipe, this "soot sack" can serve as both a gunk (solid) and gook (liquid) collector. If you tap on your pipe each morning while the stove's still relatively cool, many of the black flakes that may have accumulated in your chimney overnight will drop harmlessly into the wide-mouth canning jar ... while the liquid creosote (which forms when you're running a cool fire with a reduced air intake) will simply drain down into your handy crud trap.

On top of all that, you can unscrew the jar during your regular pipe cleanings (NO ash collector is going to eliminate the need for periodically scrubbing down your chimney's innards!), attach a plastic bag around the opening, sweep out your smokestack from above, replace the bag with the jar ... and you'll have finished a dust-free cleanup job, without removing a single section of pipe!

Build It

MOTHER EARTH NEWS' soot catcher has to be positioned at the low point of a section of pipe (since the device only collects what falls or drains into it), so the handy stove aid will NOT work on every smokestack layout. If your pipe exits vertically from the top of your stove, you won't have a good low point at which to situate the simple crud collector. Of course, should the pipe run make a sharp turn and then continue horizontally, you can install a jar along the low point of that "across" section. [EDITOR'S NOTE: A truly horizontal run of pipe would not have a low point, butto help the fire's draft — most "level" lengths of stovepipe should be angled slightly upward.]  

Such a trap will capture liquid drainings from the "horizontal" part of your chimney, but it won't collect creosote shards from that section ... or any soot at all from the vertical pipework. If, however, your pipe exits horizontally from your woodburner — with the elbow near the stove — you can simply attach the jar rig on the underside of your 90° joint, and it'll be positioned perfectly for collecting.





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