Does burning aluminum cans clean your chimney?

People have been burning aluminum cans in fireplaces and wood stoves to eliminate creosote for many years, some claim it works, and others claim it doesn’t, we will discuss how the metal alloy Manganese (25Mn) found in aluminum cans may explain why it might function.

Most people say they really are unsure why burning cans in their fireplace works, but so many people agree that it does and others say they haven’t had any luck with burning cans to clean the creosote out of a chimney, so really the results are very mixed.

I have done some of my own research to see if you can clean a chimney by burning aluminum soda cans, so continue reading to see the results.

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Let’s get started by looking at what happens when you burn aluminum cans in a wood-burning appliance.

Burning aluminum cans to clean your chimney

A soda or beer can has 1% Magnesium, 1% Manganese, 0.4% Iron, 0.2% Silicon, 0.15% Copper and Aluminum so as you can see there are a mix of metals in an aluminum can that give it texture and strength, it is not 100% pure aluminum.

I think these metals are there to make the aluminum flexible to be formed into cans using punching dyes and molds, they would also make them more recycling-friendly.

The secret ingredient

From doing a bit of research I have found that Manganese is possibly an important part of why cans can clean a chimney.

Manganese (25Mn) is a silvery-gray metal that resembles iron. Its hard and very brittle, also it is difficult to fuse, but easy to oxidize. (Not to be confused with Magnesium)

Manganese tarnishes slowly in the air and oxidizes or rusts like iron in the water this happens in part because of its salt content.

Manganese is said able to be able to break down carbon a principal byproduct of burning wood and creosote, this must be possible because many people also say that burning rock salts in a fireplace will break down creosote too.

73% of the material in aluminum cans is recyclable, 20 times more than plastic bottles

What happens when you burn aluminum cans?

So as you burn cans during the winter months you are slowly drying out the creosote in your chimney, causing it to change composition to a brittle and less flammable form, and this is why people say that the creosote falls in flakes to the bottom of the chimney.

I must be clear, other than the metal composition “Manganese,” I don’t believe aluminum cans have any particular qualities that can break down creosote.

Jonathan A.

I’m not a professional chemist but I have done some research and came to the conclusion that this must be the secret ingredient that cleans chimneys, and when you think about it, this makes sense.

YouTube video
This Video shows how burning aluminum cans can make creosote in your chimney flake and fall.

Is burning aluminum cans toxic?

Is burning aluminum cans toxic? something to remember is that aluminum cans have a plastic coating on the inside so that the liquid contents never actually touch the aluminum and other metals involved in a can, this is so the drink doesn’t pick up the taste of the metal.

Even though there aren’t many toxins released when the plastic layer burns, you should be aware of this before you decide to burn cans in your fire.

Something elts to remember is that aluminum cans don’t go up your chimney when they melt and burn, they will stay in the ashes on the floor of your wood-burning appliance as a pile of melted aluminum, and if you have air grates or air intakes in your firebox floor they could fall in there possibly causing problems or clogging your system or getting stuck to or in the floor of your fireplace or wood stove.

Burning aluminum cans in a wood stove or fireplace (How To)

So, burning aluminum cans in a wood stove or fireplace is simple; all you need is a hot enough fire to melt and burn them rapidly enough to release the chemical, which can then move up your flue.

Some people advise burning two cans every day, while others advise burning only one. I’ve also heard someone advise burning two beer cans in a woodstove every week to keep it clean, as if just burning beer cans would be have a different or better affect.

I think people just do what they think has worked for them. you can do some of your own trial and error, maybe taking some pictures of the before and after to see if there is any difference over time and take note of how many you have burned to get results.

What can I burn to get rid of creosote?

Creosote can become a real problem if not dealt with on time, it can cause terrible smells in your home, and clog your chimney the worst part is that it will eventually cause a chimney fire that can be very dangerous and scary for any homeowner.

So you may be asking, what can I burn to get rid of creosote? is there an alternative to burning aluminum cans to reduce or clean the creosote in your chimney?

There are many alternatives and these have been proven to work and have directions to help you use them in a controlled way the positive results speak for themselves.

My favorite creosote modifiers

My first pick is Cre-away creosote modifier powder from the company ChimneySaver, this is one I personally use and recommend as a chimney sweep.

Cre-away by ChimneySaver

My number one pick to reduce and destroy creosote in a chimney is Cre-away creosote modifier powder from the company ChimneySaver.

This powder can be puffed up into your chimney or onto a burning fire and it will travel up your chimney sticking to the inner walls and modifying the creosote inside.

This product is one I personally use and it works phenomenally.

It will make your chimney sweep’s job simple when he or she comes to sweep everything down, it also leaves the creosote inside less flammable.

My second pick is the CSL or Chimney sweeping log also known to break down creosote with little effort from you.

The CSL Creosote Sweeping Log is a great alternative creosote remover and is very powerful, it can be used in woodstoves and fireplaces.

With only a few burns a year you can reduce drastically the flammable creosote in your chimney, and most people that buy these logs rave about how good they work.

If your looking for a simple alternative this is it and you won’t need burning aluminum cans in a fireplace anymore.

Take a closer look at the Creosote Sweeping Log in my post “DO CREOSOTE SWEEPING LOGS WORK? EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW”

So does burning aluminum cans clean chimneys?

The answer is yes, but I am unsure to what degree, as far as I can tell from the research I have done the contents of the can like “Manganese” particularly should contribute to breaking down creosote, I would like to know how many cans need to be burned for this to work, if you know please let me know what your findings are.

If you decide to try this please send me some before and after pictures and I’ll add them to this post for evidence.

If you are burning aluminum cans in your woodstove or fireplace and it has worked for you please comment and help add to the value of this post, thanks for reading.

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