We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Pine, spruce, hemlock, and fir make excellent firewood. With their pitch content, they may burn hotter and quicker than hardwoods, but they produce plenty of good heat and light. They produce no more chimney creosote than anything else, and probably less. Firs and pines are all they burn out West.
While everybody needs to have a well-used chimney cleaned regularly, creosote accumulates in a chimney mainly from wood with high water content. In other words, "green wood" which has not had 6-12 months to shed its water content by sitting outdoors, or has not been "kiln-dried" like the expensive stuff in stores. Green pine wood is no more problematic than green maple, according to the experts. Ideally, give all wood some time to dry out to minimize creosote build-up.
A second cause of creosote build-up (we are not talking about ash build-up in the chimney, just the greasy creosote) is probably smoldering fires. The hotter the fire, the less likely that creosote will find time to condense and attach somewhere in your chimney. Creosote is, to some extent, water-soluble and thus condenses as it moves up to the cooler parts of the upper chimney.
The problem with creosote is chimney fires. Readers know that I've had a few, and it is not fun. If you are far from a fire station, it can burn your house down by either sparking the roof or penetrating the flue. People like me who burn wood indiscriminately - any wood from any tree, green or aged - must deal with the creosote issue with creosote fighters. Chimney sweeps cannot remove the grease, but chemicals can. I also enjoy quiety smoldering fires rather than dramatic blazes, so I do everything wrong.
Details on creosote oils here. Some creosote oils are what preserves and gives flavor to smoked meats. I remember painting fence posts with creosote as a lad, with my Dad. I don't think people do that anymore but it is a good and cheap wood preservative.
Wood heat is our only heat. I'm sitting comfortably in front of the stove right now. We allow it to burn down before bed, I don't like sleeping with a fire going. Makes for a cold morning but once the fire is going in the stove the radiant heat makes you feel warmer then the 40 degree thermometer reading makes you think it is. I also live in a pine forest. It has a variety of trees but they are still all pine. I have about 10 cords of wood and all of it free from my own property or my nieghbors. My flue does not need frequent cleaning until after the outside temp drops below freezing. The problem is mostly the cold creates more condensation before the smoke can leave the flue. Luckily I live in a cabin with a slightly pitched roof so winter or summer it is easy to go up on the roof and take a bursh to the flue. It takes one pass of the brush to clear the flue and about 2 minites to clean up the chimney cap. The downside is the low pitch angle allows the snow to stay on the roof and at about 5' of snow I have to shovel. It takes the two of us about three days (not 8 hour days of course) to shovel the roof when it's that deep. So far in 13 years I have only shoveled the roof twice. Often we get more then enough snow to require shoveling but we also get a lot of sun and unless it is particularly bad weather we get some melting on those sunny days. I dread the roof shoveling. It's not bad once you begin, it's invigorating and an excuse to be out in the weather. But the problem is it's 3 days of work with no other option.
I remember the smell of creosote from 60 years ago passing through Monroe, LA on family trips. There were open ponds of the stuff with logs soaking in it to become poles for power companies. It took a while for the sinuses and eyes to stop watering when you got a face full of the fumes. Creosote was deemed too toxic for the environment. They went to an arsenic-based treatment till it too was declared toxic. The currently used wood preservative is supposedly safer. I've cut creosoted poles before and the sawdust on your skin will give you a nasty chemical burn - don't want to do that again.
p.s. Chimney guys were here this morning. I'm betting against the Mayan December 21st end-of-the-world and going with an extra cord of seasoned oak.
Yep. Creosote is a condensate. Keep the chimney temps high enough and the condensation is minimized. Burn on, Bro. As long as the wood is dry, not a problem.
A multi-decade wood burner here as well as a retired forester.
Long back, I helped my brother build a log cabin on some mountain property. We harvested the logs off the property, etc.
I painted the foundation posts with creosote. I remember it wasn't terrible. Oh those old times. I do remember later in the truck the sun hitting where I'd gotten some on my arms was intense. No chemical burns but I did clean up again. I can't remember for sure but probably with gasoline. Leaded, of course.