Ahhh, sitting in your favorite easy chair with your feet up after a long day. What could be nicer and more relaxing than watching the fire dance over and around the logs in your glass faced wood burning stove?
But, what if your mind can’t wander because the glass in the door is covered with soot and the flickering firelight is obscured from view? There are expensive products in the market place that claim to remove the soot and stains with little or no elbow grease. Unfortunately, the price adds time to your already busy schedule: the money has to come from somewhere.
Here’s a little trick I found that costs almost nothing; with no searching through specialty stores or shopping the Internet and then waiting for the product to arrive required. Nearly every household has the item under the sink or in the utility room. After a short walk back and forth to the utility room and a few minutes time, I found it worked faster than any specialty item I’d tried. Plus it has an added benefit, covered at the end of this article, that few if any have probably thought about.
We’re quasi full-time RVers. Quasi because we live in our motorhome on a friend’s small farm during the summer. The area is a snow belt and temperatures can reach double digit minuses during the winter. When that time is close, we house sit for people who want to travel or spend the cold months in a warmer climate. The largest majority of the homes we take care of have wood stoves, and soot buildup on the stove’s glass doors.
We tried soaps of all kinds and some of the specialty glass and ceramic cleaners that our clients had on the shelves in their utility room. Soaps didn’t do anything except smear the soot around; maybe not even that. When we ran out of the specialty items, we had no idea where they’d gotten them. Necessity is said to be the mother of invention and that can also be applied to innovation.
One client burned particularly sappy wood and some had gotten on the tile floor in front of the wood stove. I tried several items and found ammonia to do the best, easiest and quickest job. With that in mind, the next logical step was to give it a try on the soot. One paper towel dampened with ammonia, plus about two minutes labor, and the soot was gone. Another paper towel cleaned the streaks off the glass and it sparkled. Later, the paper towels can be used as fire starter.
The glass has to be cold and precautions need to be taken when working with ammonia. Ammonia can cause burns, loss of eye sight plus bronchial tube and lung damage if inhaled.
One of my first jobs after release from the Marines was driving truck. The commodity was liquid chemical fertilizer suspended in aqua ammonia.
I learned very quickly to treat it with the utmost respect. Some others I knew, or heard about, hadn’t and suffered the consequences. One lost the sight in one eye and others suffered temporary to permanent damage to their lungs and airways. Not enough can be said about exercising extreme caution when dealing with ammonia. Mixing ammonia and chlorine bleach together produces deadly fumes!
Judging from the smell of at least one specialty product, I’d say the main ingredient is ammonia and the same precautions should prevail. A higher price doesn’t mean it’s a safer product!
The added benefit? One of our clients had replaced the stove pipe during the summer and hadn’t used the stove since. They also hadn’t cleaned the creosote out of the upper pipes that hadn’t been replaced. Apparently, when the pipes were replaced some of the creosote had fallen down and lodged in the top of the stove. When we lit the stove, it burned really hot and the new pipes turned brown where the paint burned off.
Originally, indelible India Ink was made from soot mixed with water. I rubbed he soot coated paper towels on the discolored paint and, after a few glass door cleanings, the pipes looked like new and the soot, if done correctly, won’t rub off. . Just rub the still damp, or wet, ammonia and soot stained paper towel on the pipes when cool or cold and before a fire has been started in the stove. Again, use caution when working with ammonia. Don’t use it in an enclosed space and be sure you’re not above the surface you’re working on to avoid inhaling any fumes.
As a professional freelance writer, photographer and pencil sketch artist, house siting is the perfect match for me. House sitting, the way we do it, gives both my wife and I time to pursue our passions, fulfill our house sitting duties and do it all on our time schedules.
For us, house sitting has proven to be a profitable, money saving enterprise and learning adventures all rolled into one.