Maintaining clean glass on your wood burner is crucial for optimum performance and visual appeal. Soot, ash and creosote can quickly build up on the glass, obscuring the flames and making the fire less enjoyable to watch. With some simple cleaning tools and techniques, you can keep your wood burner glass spotless.
Why Cleaning the Glass is Important
Here are some of the key reasons you need to keep your wood burner glass clean:
- Improves efficiency – Clean glass allows more radiant heat through to warm your room. Soot and creosote act as insulators that block heat transfer.
- Aesthetic appeal – Being able to see the fire clearly enhances the cozy ambience created by your stove. Cleaning keeps the glass crystal clear.
- Fire visibility – Built up deposits can make it harder to monitor the fire intensity and flames. Clean glass gives you better visibility.
- Prevent permanent staining – The longer creosote and soot sit on the glass, the more likely they are to etch into the surface. Regular cleaning prevents permanent stains.
- Safety – Keeping the glass clean means you can easily see if flames get too high or other potential hazards. Dirty glass obstructs your view.
Cleaning Tools You’ll Need
Cleaning the glass requires some specialized tools you may not already have for general household cleaning. Here are the essential items to have on hand:
- Fireplace Glass Cleaner – It’s best to use a cleaner formulated specifically for wood stove and fireplace glass. These are designed to cut through creosote.
- Razor Scraper – A razor scraper with replacement blades lets you scrape off extra stubborn creosote or soot.
- ** 0000 Steel Wool** – Super fine 0000 grade steel wool gives just enough abrasion to remove stuck on deposits without scratching the glass.
- Lint-Free Cloths – Soft lint-free cotton cloths clean and polish without leaving stray fibers behind.
- Glass Polishing Wipes – Pre-moistened wipes provide a handy means to add extra polish after cleaning.
- Gloves – Heat resistant gloves protect your hands while cleaning hot glass or scraping.
When To Clean the Glass
For light soot or ash, you may only need to clean the glass every few weeks. Heavier use will require more frequent cleaning. Follow these general guidelines on timing:
- Weekly – If you use your stove for hours daily, aim to clean the glass at least once a week.
- Biweekly – Moderate usage of a few fires a week merits cleaning every two weeks.
- Monthly – Only occasional fires call for monthly glass cleaning maintenance.
- Before First Fire of the Season – Clean the glass at the start of your burning season for a clean slate.
- After Long or Intense Burns – Clean after fires that last many hours or burn very hot to clear heavy soot buildup.
- When Visibly Dirty – Don’t let the glass get completely coated in soot. Wipe down as soon as you notice darkening.
Regular cleaning prevents a major buildup that requires extensive scrubbing to remove. Get in the habit of quick cleaning sessions to make the job easier.
Safety Tips for Cleaning Hot Glass
If your fire is still burning or you recently extinguished it, the glass will be extremely hot. Keep these safety precautions in mind:
- Allow the fire to fully extinguish and the stove to cool. Cleaning hot glass is dangerous.
- If needed, only clean small sections at a time while wearing heat resistant gloves.
- Avoid steam burns by not using wet cloths on hot glass.
- Check the glass temperature before cleaning. If it’s too hot to touch, it’s too hot to clean.
- Keep children and pets away during cleaning for safety.
- Don’t spray glass cleaner directly on hot glass as it could crack it.
When in doubt, wait until the stove and glass cool to room temperature before cleaning to avoid burns. Don’t let hot glass deter you from proper maintenance.
Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning the Glass
Follow this comprehensive procedure to thoroughly clean your wood stove glass:
Step 1 – Assess the Glass
Before getting started, do a visual inspection of the glass condition. Note any areas of heavy buildup and any potential staining or etching. Heavily stained areas may require extra attention during cleaning.
Step 2 – Remove Surface Ashes & Soot with a Cloth
Wipe down the exterior glass surface with a dry lint-free cloth to remove any loose soot and ash. A gentle pass with a cloth will take care of light soiling.
Step 3 – Apply Wood Stove Glass Cleaner
Spray a liberal amount of glass cleaner specially formulated for wood stoves directly onto the glass surface. Avoid excess overspray falling into the stove interior.
Step 4 – Let the Cleaner Soak for 5-10 Minutes
Allow the powerful cleaner time to penetrate and soften the caked-on creosote and soot. Set a timer if needed so the cleaner can work its magic.
Step 5 – Wipe Away Grime with a Cloth
Use a clean lint-free cloth to wipe down the entire glass surface, removing the grime the cleaner loosened. Apply moderate pressure in circular motions.
Step 6 – Scrape Off Stubborn Deposits
Use a fresh razor scraper blade to gently scrape off any chunks of creosote still stuck to the glass after wiping down with cleaner.
Step 7 – Clean with 0000 Steel Wool
For extra cleaning power, gently rub 0000 steel wool over the glass. The fine steel fibers scrub the glass without scratching.
Step 8 – Wipe Away Residue
Use a dry lint-free cloth to wipe off any remaining glass cleaner residue and debris freed by the steel wool.
Step 9 – Polish with a Glass Wipe
Finish by using a glass polishing wipe to add shine and prevent immediate re-accumulation of soot and ash.
Step 10 – Repeat for Interior Glass
Once the exterior glass is cleaned, repeat the process on the interior glass surface. Allow the stove to cool first before accessing the interior.
With this routine, you can thoroughly clean both sides of the glass and enjoy crystal clear visibility of the fire.
Tips for Stubborn Creosote or Stains
For extremely stubborn creosote that won’t budge, try these tips:
- Make a paste – Mix wood stove glass cleaner with ash to form a mildly abrasive paste, then apply to the glass. The ash helps scour off sticky creosote.
- Use a plastic scraper – For heavy deposits, a plastic paint scraper can chip off excess buildup before wiping and polishing.
- Pre-wet heavy soot – Mist water on extra thick soot to moisten it before trying to scrape. The water softens the creosote.
- Repeat cleanser application – Allowing the cleaner to soak for an extra few minutes can help lift caked-on gunk.
- Use undiluted cleaner – For severe stains, apply concentrated stove glass cleaner undiluted for maximum strength.
With some perseverance, even baked-on creosote and difficult stains can be removed to reveal pristine glass.
Troubleshooting Cloudy or Foggy Glass
If your freshly cleaned glass still appears cloudy, foggy or discolored, the glass itself may be permanently etched or stained. To troubleshoot:
- Clean several more times to remove any residue. Repeat steel wool scrubbing.
- Polish the glass with a ceramic glass cooktop cleaner and buff thoroughly. Remove all haze.
- If the glass remains cloudy, the creosote likely permanently etched the surface. Replacement may be required.
To prevent etching, clean frequently to prevent heavy buildup that can damage the glass over time.
Preventing Rapid Re-soiling of the Glass
A sparkling clean wood stove glass is satisfying, but the pristine glass can quickly become dingy again with subsequent fires. Here are tips to keep the glass cleaner longer after cleaning:
- Burn dry seasoned wood – Well-seasoned wood with a moisture content under 20% develops less creosote.
- Use smaller, hotter fires – Quicker, hotter fires produce less smoke that leads to glass dirtying.
- Leave the airwash open – Allow maximum air flow across glass to reduce deposits during burning.
- Clean out ashes – Removing built up ashes in the firebox prevents flying ash from collecting on the glass.
- Consider glass etching – Lightly etched glass can discourage adhesion of creosote.
With proper burning techniques and fuels, you can go longer between cleanings and enjoy clear glass.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the white haze on my glass?
White haze is typically creosote that has crystallized on the glass surface. Use a razor blade to gently scrape it away, then polish the glass.
What causes permanent etching or staining?
Frequently allowing thick creosote or soot to sit on the glass can etch it. Using very dry wood and aggressive burning creates ash that can also permanently stain glass.
Should I clean the glass while still hot?
Never attempt to clean very hot glass that can’t be touched. Always allow the stove to completely cool first to avoid serious burns or cracking the glass.
Why does my glass appear brown?
Brown staining is usually a result of burning low-quality wood with high pitch content that adheres to the glass. Upgrade your fuel and clean more frequently to avoid brown spots.
What’s the best wood stove glass cleaner?
Popular cleaner options include Rutland, A-1 Stoves, Wood Stone, and Axner brands designed specifically for hearth glass. Use according to label instructions.
How can I remove metal spark stains?
Tiny metal spark stains can be removed with a single edge razor blade held at a 30 degree angle and lightly scraped off. Then polish the glass.
Keeping the glass on your wood stove crystal clear is simple and satisfying with the right tools and techniques. Regular cleaning improves the performance and aesthetics of your stove while letting you enjoy the cozy fire. Follow these guidelines for pristine, safe glass all burning season long.