A Burning Issue in Mallorca

The weather hasn’t been too cold so far on Mallorca this winter, although February is looming on the horizon and it’s the month that can bring snow and very chilly conditions. Even though the mercury hasn’t plunged too far down yet, we’ve kept our Jotul wood-burning stove going 24/7 since some time in November. The Boss likes to  “keep the walls warm”.  We’ve been quite warm too (and there were winters here when I thought I’d never say that).

In previous winters we’ve had to perform the routine task of cleaning out the stove pipe about once a month. It’s a tedious task – and a very messy one. We have to let the fire go out, then remove the metal pipe connecting the stove with the chimney entry point, and then clean out all the black gunk that’s accumulated inside, before putting the whole thing back together.

Making a Pass or Two 

Did I say ‘we’? Tut, tut. It’s actually The Boss who does the lion’s share of this cleaning job. He’s the one up the ladder cleaning the chimney access and taking the pipe outside to clean it out. I just stand at the foot of the ladder passing him the necessary implements, like a surgeon’s assistant: “bucket”, “large metal pokey thing” (I’ve no idea what it used to be), “small metal pokey thing” (ditto), and “mirror” (so he can see up into the chimney).  The whole job takes about an hour – time we could certainly use more enjoyably.

This winter The Boss gave the stove pipe and chimney a very thorough clean before lighting it for the first time. And, unlike previous years, we haven’t had to clean it again until today. The stove has a way of letting us know when it’s necessary – and it usually involves stinky smoke filling the room. It was today. Job now done.

We can only conclude that we’ve been buying cleaner-burning wood since we changed our supplier to one in Porreres. We also get more for our money there. And that’s always a burning issue.

Man at work

Man at work

Jan Edwards Copyright 2014

8 thoughts on “A Burning Issue in Mallorca

  1. Oh I love hearing yr news it makes me feel not so far away and keeps me going to our next visit to cas concos where we stay

    • Thank you, Sarah, how kind of you to say that! Cas Concos is a lovely area, but not one we know very well. I’m quite a fan of Santanyi market and all the lovely cafes there . . .

  2. How does your “black gunk” look? Is it soot that can be easily brushed off or is it sticky and oily?
    The first is normal the second indicating wet wood or not enough air.
    A tip is to occasionally use pine wood that burns faster and hotter to consume the soot.
    You can also buy a chemical chimney sweeper. You just put it in the stove and light it and it will burn away the soot.
    I use a proper round Chimney sweepers brush with a weight attached and lower it from the roof to our stove and up again ripping off the soot from the pipe walls. But you need to have a straight pipe for that. We don´t have a lot of soot but that can be due to the fact that we mostly use pine for the stove.


    • Fortunately, Anders, our black gunk is of the more easily removed variety. We tend to burn almond or olive wood mainly; perhaps we should try using pine. We also use one of those chemical chimney sweeps periodically and they do seem to help. Impressed by your use of the chimney sweep’s brush. We don’t have a straight pipe, but even if we did I don’t think The Boss would enjoy getting up on the roof. It’s one of those ‘only if absolutely necessary’ jobs.

      • It looks as if the Boss is not afraid of ladders. The two times I have broken something was when climbing ladders. Never when climbing roofs or pine trees hunting processionary caterpillars.


      • Oh dear! The Boss is not really a fan of ladders, and I’m usually at the foot of it, just in case.
        Of course, this means the potential to be squashed! I had a bit of an incident with a ladder when
        decorating our bedroom and managed to fall off it holding a pot of varnish. The mess was unbelievable.

  3. We have been burning eco logs (compressed sawdust or almond husks) this winter and find very little ash or soot. We had to take our pipes off this year and replace them, the first time in twenty years. Usually we use a fire ‘bomb’ each year to clean it out!

    • Those eco logs must be a lot easier to stack too – and not so likely to conceal large hairy spiders! Twenty years seems a pretty good life for the pipes. Let’s hope ours last that long. I think the ‘fire bomb’ you mention is probably the same as what The Boss calls wizard sticks – something we use from time to time.

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