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Creosote is a highly combustible substance which condenses in liquid form as wood exhaust cools in the chimney, and then solidifies as it dries. If ignited, creosote can burn for days at temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees, which is hot enough to destroy the chimney and ignite surrounding combustibles. Creosote is very caustic; if allowed to accumulate, it will significantly shorten the lifetime of the stovepipe and chimney. A seasoned-wood fire that is given enough oxygen for proper combustion will reduce creosote formation in two ways, by consuming more of the wood gases while at the same time sending more heat up the chimney to reduce flue gas cooling.

More information on safe use of wood fuel.