How To Get Rid Of A Creosote Smell From A Wood Stove

If you inherit or move into a house with a wood stove and there is a strong creosote smell, then you should get the stove and chimney inspected immediately.

Do not light the stove again until the installation has been fixed or given a clean bill of health.

But what if you’ve fixed the problem and you’ve still got the smell of creosote wafting from the stove? Or what if there’s nothing wrong but the stove gives the occasional whiff that lingers?

If you are getting a smell from the stove and you’re not sure what it means, check out our article on what creosote smells like.

Now let’s look at our best tips on getting rid of the smell from your stove.

Use White Vinegar Near The Wood Stove

White vinegar is great at absorbing bad odors.

There are three ways to deploy it in a room with a smelly wood stove. Use all three if necessary!


Shallow bowls

Fill several shallow bowls with white vinegar and place some of them near the wood stove.

I recommend about two near the stove and another two in different parts of the room.

Spray a mixture

Fill an empty spray bottle with a mixture of vinegar and water in a 50:50 ratio.

Spray liberally in the area around the wood stove.

Vinegar on a towel

This may seem odd, but it can be effective in a room.

Sprinkle plenty of white vinegar on a fluffy towel and swing the towel around your head.

This is a good job to assign to a teenager in the house.

Other Objects That Absorb Smells

White vinegar is usually the easiest and cheapest product to get your hands on. But it’s not the only option.


Bucket of charcoal

Lumps or briquettes of charcoal are also very good at absorbing odors from the air.

The tip is to fill a bucket with charcoal and leave it beside the wood stove.

The main drawback is that lumps in particular can be messy. You may want to put newspaper down on a carpet or flooring and then put the bucket on the paper.

Lava rocks

Pet owners know that lava rocks are good at soaking up animal smells. They also happen to be good with the smell of smoke.

But where do you get them? Your local pet store will probably have them.

You will also find them in the larger home improvement stores.

Using An Air Purifier

I’m not suggesting that you purchase an air purifier. Hopefully, your creosote smell is temporary so this would be an expensive fix.

However, if you can borrow a portable one from a friend or neighbor, it can work very well in clearing a creosote smell from your wood stove.

If you’re not familiar with these appliances, they work by circulating air around the room and sucking in impurities.

Be sure to use it in the room where your stove is located. It doesn’t have to be slap-bang beside the stove. It’s probably better to put it in the center of the room.

Fixing Problems That Produce Creosote Smells

If you are the proud new purchaser of a beautiful wood stove, then you may not need to worry about some early aromas.

Check out our article on why new wood stoves smell. The aroma should go away.

But what if the smell persists?

Having a problem with creosote can be very serious. Creosote build-up is a cause of chimney fires.

My advice is that you get the installer or a technician to inspect your appliance and your chimney.

However, I often field questions from stove owners who have gotten a clean bill of health from a reputable technician. They’ve basically been told that there’s nothing wrong.

The rest of this article reviews minor issues that cause creosote smells and how to fix them.

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Do You Have An Old Fireplace Flue?

Did you install a wood stove in an old fireplace without having the chimney professionally cleaned?

When the insert liner is run through an old flue, the heat can draw some old build-up of creosote that had soaked into the masonry.

If this is happening, you are most likely to get the whiff of creosote when you are running your stove at its hotter temperatures.

The solution is to book a professional chimney cleaning service and explain that you have a stove insert.

If the service can arrive the following day, check out our tips on cooling down wood stoves faster.

Do You Have A Backdraft Sucking Cold Air Down Your Chimney?

This is more likely to be the problem if you experience the smell when the wood stove has been cold for a while.

That seems counterintuitive. Why are you getting the smoky smell when the stove has been off for a day?

What may be happening is that the air pressure is lower inside your house than outside it. That reverses the effects of the flue. In other words, it pulls smoky air down into the room.

Let’s look at the causes of this situation. It’s most likely to happen in more moderate temperatures rather than very cold climates.

It’s often caused by having multiple fans running inside the house. These can include one or more of:

  • bathroom fan
  • kitchen extractor fan
  • clothes dryer

The solution is to break the backdraft.


For example, don’t run the clothes dryer at the same time as the exhaust fan in the kitchen.

I also got a quirky tip from a colleague in the stove industry.

He told me that lighting a candle placed inside the stove can ensure that the air flows in the direction that we want it to i.e. upward.

Another more expensive fix is to replace an uninsulated liner with an insulated one.

Dean Casey
About Dean Casey

Hi, I'm Dean Casey, the founder and chief editor of

With over 15 years of experience in the HVAC industry, my passion is helping homeowners achieve optimal comfort and energy efficiency in their living spaces. As a certified HVAC technician and consultant, I have developed a deep understanding of home heating systems, insulation, and energy-saving practices.

I started this blog to provide well-researched, practical advice to homeowners looking to improve their home's heating performance and reduce energy bills. Whether it's comprehensive guides, hands-on product reviews, or expert tips, my goal is to share valuable information with you, my readers.

I enjoy spending time with my family and exploring the great outdoors when I'm not busy writing and researching. I'm also an avid DIYer, always eager to tackle new home improvement projects and share my experiences with you.

If you have any questions or comments about home heating, please don't hesitate to reach out through the contact page on the website. I'm always happy to help!

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