Cleaning the glass on a wood, gas, or pellet stove or fireplace can seem like a daunting task. However, once you know the basic information, it's really not that difficult. All it takes is some time, a little elbow grease, and a little bit of effort, and your view of the fire can be crystal clear in no time at all.
Temperature is Paramount!
This might seem like an easy one, but many people forget...hot glass and cold liquid cleanser do not mix. Spraying a liquid cleanser onto hot glass can result in shattering that can cut you, cost a lot of money to repair, and ultimately ruin your day. Your view of the fire will be crystal clear, but actually lighting a fire in a stove or fireplace with broken or missing glass is extremely dangerous. Please, DO NOT spray glass cleaner on hot glass. Aside from that dangerous scenario, using glass cleaners on hot or even warm surfaces can cause rapid evaporation and oxidation that can leave your glass sticky and stained. The combination of heat and chemicals in these cleansers causes a reaction that can leave imperfections and stains in the glass that are impossible to remove. This is not nearly as dangerous as shattering pieces of hot glass flying towards your unprotected eyes, but the results are far from desirable. No matter which type of fuel your hearth appliance uses, be sure to clean the glass before you light a fire so that the glass is at room temperature to avoid these costly, and sometimes painful, mistakes.
Different Glass = Different Cleanser
Different fuels burn at different temperatures, so different appliances will achieve different temperatures, which ultimately means that different glass is used in accordance with the anticipated temperatures the glass will have to endure. Wood stoves and fireplaces have the most radiant heat, and as such the glass gets extremely hot. Pellet stoves have a typically lower radiant heat temperature, as do gas stoves and fireplaces. Because these appliances have different potential temperature ranges, they could have different types of glass being used. The main 2 types of glass used in hearth appliances are tempered glass and pyro-ceramic. Tempered glass has been around for a long time and has good heat resistance. It is most commonly found on gas fireplaces and inserts where radiant temperatures are high enough to cause burns to the skin, but aren't typically high enough to cause the glass to rupture or fracture from the intense heat. Pellet and wood stoves typically use a pyro-ceramic glass which is far more resistant to extreme heat, and better suited to the radiant heat levels of these appliances. Using a cream intended for tempered glass on pyro-ceramic can cause stains, imperfections, and oxidation that is both unsightly and impossible to remove. There are a variety of cleansers available, designed for a specific type of glass, and specific uses. If you aren't sure...ask us. We carry a couple different types on hand, and we are happy to help you get the product you need to get the job done.
Spray, Wipe, Repeat
It really is that simple. When you have the right cleaner and your glass is at the right temperature, routine cleaning will make it as simple as spray, wipe and repeat. For easy soot removal and daily cleaning of light residue, any readily available glass cleaner and paper towels will work well. For more heavily soiled glass, heavy residue buildup, or trying to rejuvenate a neglected stove, we have a heavy ammonia-based cleanser that works wonders for cutting through thick soot buildup and stains. This spray, coupled with some of the fine, gray ash from your wood stove as an abrasive, will cut through everything but the most severe stains. And in the worst of cases, where glass has been neglected for multiple fires, through repeated residue buildup, and the soot has been "cooked" into the glass, a heavy dose of this spray, and the gentle use of a razor blade will work almost every time. Just be sure to keep the glass well lubricated with cleaner, your fingers well protected from the razor blade, and don't use force. The blade should gently and easily glide over the surface of the glass, lifting the soot and stains as it does.
If all else fails, come in to our showroom. We would be happy to demonstrate techniques, and give you some pro tips and tricks for keeping your glass clean, and your fire views unobstructed.
Stay Warm, Stay Safe!