Frequently Asked Questions
ACS Liquid FAQ
What Does ACS Liquid Do, and How Does It Work?
Let's take wood stoves, inserts and wood furnaces first. ACS Liquid is sprayed on the interior walls of a wood stove or furnace; some in the general direction of the flue outlet and then some on the wood. This should be done under low fire (for safety) or before lighting the fire.
The formula contains a surfactant (surface-attractive chemical) which causes it to become attached to solid surfaces. This extends the active life of the catalyst. Spraying on the wood is effective but it will go up the flue with the smoke. The combination of the two works best.
Start up a small, hot fire to create the catalytic vapor. Why small? Because if there is a large fire and a lot of creosote, it could get ignited. At about 300° F surface stack temperature – which relates to about 500° F internal temperature – a catalytic vapor is formed. The microfine particles of ACS's special combination of chemicals attracts and captures single and double-cell oxygen hovering above the fire, bringing them into the combustion process. The vapor, plus the added oxygen, enhances pyrolysis, extracting more BTUs from the fuel, leaving less residue and reducing smoke.
The catalyst circulates in the firebox and does several things:
- It disperses deposits on the firebox's inner surfaces, resulting in better heat transfer
- It will convert creosote streaks on a glass front to a powdery form, easily removed
- It could help disperse fly-ash on a combustor element. (We recommend putting the combustor element into non-operating mode during treatment) It is safe to use on combustor-equipped stoves, unlike some other products.
The vapor then progresses up the flue and attaches itself to the creosote and soot deposits, progressively degrading them. In the case of 3rd degree glazed creosote, it penetrates the glaze, releasing tarry moisture, leaving a dry and crumbly residue. Some may fall, making it important to keep stove pipes and elbows clear, some will remain, which can be easily swept out. This conversion to dry and brittle will make sweeping quicker and easier, and mechanical methods of creosote removal much more effective.
ACS was deliberately designed to be progressive. A heavy-handed formula could release to much residue too soon, plugging pipes and elbows. The rate of conversion can be user-controlled by frequency and amount of application. ACS is adaptable and forgiving.
How much should be applied?
There is no single answer. It depends on type of stove, furnace, fireplace, fuel, quality of fuel, burn routine, extent of creosote and soot build-up and more. Let's take an average stove: about 6-12 squirts daily can be effective. In first-time use, be much more liberal, and then adjust as needed. Bigger problems, larger stoves, hefty furnaces, open fireplaces all need a regimen of treatment established by trial and error (the error factor being harmless!).
Will ACS Liquid work in an open fireplace?
Open fireplaces come in 4 general types:
Fully open fireplace, no glass front:
This is a primitive, heat wasting device, with only the damper as a control. There is a high volume of air being drawn from the room to support combustion, most of the heat being directed up the chimney; the remaining heat is derived mainly from radiation from masonry surfaces. Another downside to this type is the fact that it is removing heated air from the room and up the chimney; this can lead to oxygen starvation, and the wasteful need to admit outside air to compensate. Because of the lack of controls, the catalyst in ACS is not subjected to enough concentrated heat to make it fully active. The fireback surfaces and the chimney are constantly cooled by the airflow. It can be made reasonably effective by treating each piece of wood with a light spray, plus the inner fireplace surfaces and lower areas of the chimney flue and damper area. However, dramatic results are not to be expected.
Loose-fitting (casual) glass fronts:
Since the glass front can be adjusted somewhat to control the airflow, there is a much better environment for the catalyst to work in, especially if a small, brisk fire is created with the glass front closed as far as practicable without impeding combustion. Spraying the wood, the fireplace surfaces, and the damper/lower flue area can produce satisfactory results with the application of ACS, although not as effectively as in a wood stove. Frequent application (such as twice a day) followed by a small brisk fire, can help to offset the negative aspects of excess airflow.
Glass front with sealed frame and air controls:
This configuration represents the equivalent of an oversized woodstove, i.e. internal dimensions and large chimney flue significantly dilute the heated air. However, the user can exercise a large measure of control over the burning process, controlling the airflow and permitting generation of more concentrated combustion with less wasted heat rushing up the chimney. In these conditions, significant results can be obtained with ACS when sprayed on the inner fireplace surfaces, on the wood, and up in the damper chimney flue area. Application should be followed by a small, brisk fire to establish the catalytic action. Recommended treatment would be more frequent than with a wood stove, because of air dilution.
Configuration 3) plus fireplace heat exchanger:
Of all “open fireplaces”, this is the setup which would respond most effectively to treatment with ACS. There is positive control of airflow, permitting generation of the small, brisk fire necessary for the catlyst to work, plus the major benefit of capturing most of the combustion heat, which is then propelled into the room either by convectdion or positive fan-driven airflow. Everything favors good results, comparable to that of a large woodstove, but not to that of a smaller stove engineered for high efficiency.
In summary, ACS can be effective with open fireplaces, with a varying degree of effectiveness, depending of the configurations described above. It is encouraging to note that, even in less-than-favorable conditions, aggressive treatment can yield satisfactory results. Certainly, any measure of improvement must be preferable to ignoring a creosote problem. Results vary, with #3 & #4 being the best, #2 less effective, and #1 requiring aggressive treatment to offset lack of controls.
Describe the features of the product itself
ACS Liquid is a water-based, safe, non-flammable, non-toxic and non-corrosive. It contains low temperature protection without alcohol. If it partially freezes, it will thaw from just handling; the chemicals will not fall out of suspension (as others might). We recommend avoiding extremely low temperatures. As previously mentioned, it is safe with catalytic combustors. It is harmless to metal and masonry chimneys. It has an extended shelf-life, and will not lose its effectiveness in storage.
What about stains from spillage and careless use?
If carelessly applied, or spilled, ACS may leave a stubborn brown stain, which cannot usually be removed by common household cleaners or chemicals. There is an easy solution, which we describe on the label. Pour a small amount of hydrogen-peroxide into a dish, then add a few shakes of white vinegar (which acts as a “reducing agent”). Apply to the stain, leave for a few minutes, then blot up with white paper towels. This is effective on virtually all hard surfaces. Fabrics are another matter, since there are so many types. While we cannot endorse any specific fabric cleaning method, we have heard of successes with a diluted version of the above stain removal method. As with any fabric stain, tests should be done in an inconspicuous area to check it out.
Is there any danger in ingesting or contact with ACS Liquid?
Virtually none. Follow directions on the label. No report has ever been received of any negative effect. If swallowed, do not induce vomiting. Drink plenty of fluids and seek medical help, it's just common sense. Avoid excess contact with skin, as with any chemicals.
Any other uses for ACS such as with coal and pellet stoves?
ACS is very effective with coal. Coal soot is a form of creosote, in soft powder form, and responds very well to treatment. ACS also works with pellet stoves; just make sure that pellets are not made too damp in the hopper, to avoid clogging. A fine spray has proven effective, in both the hopper and firebox.
What sizes are available?
ACS Liquid comes in 32 oz. Spray bottles and 1 gallon refill containers. ACS Powder is available in 1 lb. Squeeze bottles. ACS Gas Log Carbon & Soot Remover comes in 16 oz. Spray bottles.
What about carbon on gas logs?
Gas logs, especially those fueled by LP gas, accumulate hard carbon deposits on top. They can't be removed manually without damaging the finish. When a log is burning hot (for at least 30 minutes), a fine mist spray of ACS Gas Log Carbon & Soot Remover can be applied directly on to the carbon. This will reduce its ignition temperature and cause it to be combusted, leaving virtually no residue. Do not apply excessively; just enough to do the job. Do not apply at jet spray setting. Carbon buildup with unvented logs requires service and adjustment before using ACS Gas Log Carbon & Soot Remover. Excessive use on light-colored logs could leave some stains. However, they will fade, and could be preferable to unsightly carbon.
ACS Powder FAQ
What is ACS Powder and how does it work?
ACS Powder is a unique creosote modifier. It was developed in the mid-eighties by a chemical engineer for the federal government. After experiencing a chimney fire himself, and armed with his knowledge of chemistry, he went to work on developing an effective weapon to disarm the potentially dangerous third stage creosote. ACS Powder is a powder that is shot up the flue using its special applicator bottle. The powder contains 4 major components; each one serving a specific function:
- The first component is a reactive agent that effectively neutralizes the slightly acidic, glazed creosote
- The second component is a dehydrator that absorbs the oils and water in the glazed and tar-type creosote
- The third component is a fire retardent that produces carbon dioxide gas when the creosote reaches a certain temperature; this helps to prevent a fire
- The fourth component is a magnesium catalyst for the neutralizing and dehydrating components that is triggered by low heat
Does ACS Powder require heat to work?
Yes and no. The dryers and combustion inhibitors work in contact with creosote, and this product helps with certain odor problems. However, heat is required to help break down the creosote.
Is ACS Powder safe for stainless liners and black stove pipes?
Yes, ACS Powder is safe. Creosote is slightly acidic and corrosive to ferris metal components. ACS Powder safely neutralizes the creosote, making it less corrosive.
On what type of appliances connected to chimneys can ACS Powder be used?
ACS Powder is recommended for use with any wood burning appliance, such as fireplaces, stoves, furnaces, inserts, boilers, etc... ACS Powder is not recommended for use with catalytic combustors.
How do I know when I've applied the proper amount of ACS Powder in the flue?
The goal is to coat the entire flue or smoke chamber with a heavy dusting of the product. Since the product is white to light grey in appearance, it shows up easily in the flue. Visually inspect the flue after applying ACS Powder to make sure the glazed creosote has been thoroughly coated.
Is ACS Powder hazardous?
No. None of the components in ACS Powder are considered hazardous materials per D.O.T. regulations. However, it is fine powder and inhalation should be avoided. Also, you should not get this in your eyes.
ACS Home & Hearth Cleaner FAQ
What type of stains does ACS Home & Hearth Cleaner remove?
This product safely removes smoke and creosote stains from fireplace glass, hearths, stoves, brick, stone and more. It also works well on barbecue grills as well as clothing and equipment that have smoke and soot on them. ACS Home & Hearth Cleaner also cleans walls, woodwork, kitchen surfaces and flooring. It leaves no streaks or film on surfaces and has fresh citrus smell.
What sizes are available?
ACS Home & Hearth Cleaner comes in 32 oz. spray bottles.
Does ACS Home & Hearth Cleaner contain harmful chemicals such as sodium hydroxide?
No, this product safely removes carbon, soot and grease without using sodium hydroxide, an active ingredient found in most hearth and stove cleaners. It's also commonly used in many oven cleaners, paint strippers, and drain cleaners. ACS Home & Hearth Cleaner is less corrosive and more user friendly than many other hearth cleaners.