During a winter, if you’re burning wood in a fireplace, stove, or insert, you will have some ash to deal with. In fact, if you’re not burning properly seasoned wood, you may need to empty ashes from your firebox every few days, depending on how often you burn. Burning green, or wet wood can result in more ash, more smoke, and a less efficient fire. Burn the correct wood, and you’ll have a better fire, a more efficient chimney, and less ash.
What to Do with Ash
There are many uses for ash that you may not have thought of. The average cord of seasoned firewood produces 50 pounds of ashes. After it’s been safely removed from your fireplace, insert, or stove, it can cool and be useful for many purposes.
- Neutralize odors on pets by dusting into the fur
- Enrich compost or garden soil by adding small amounts periodically
- Repel slugs, snails, and some bugs by sprinkling around the garden
- Melt ice on pavement, sidewalks, and porches
- Clean metal pans, glass doors, and oven surfaces by adding a bit of water and ash to a sponge.
- Polish silver
- Make soap by soaking your ashes in water to create lye. Follow a recipe to make homemade soap.
Once you know what you want to do with your ashes, you will have an idea of how to store them. Ideally, you will have a large container to store them in, with a lid, such as a metal trash can.
How to Remove the Ash
When your ashes begin to interfere with your fire, you have too many. In fact, your ashes can begin to smother your fire and make the fireplace and chimneyless efficient if you allow even a few inches to collect. The best practice is to remove ashes regularly, leaving ¼ inch to insulate the bottom of the firebox.
First, let the fire burn down to a safe temperature to avoid burns and risk of fire. Once you’re ready to remove the ash, gather your supplies, including leather gloves and a long handle poker, shovel, and ash bucket designed to withstand high temperatures. Carefully scoop ashes from the firebox and drop into your bucket. To avoid inhaling harmful particles, you can wear a mask during ash removal. Wearing your gloves, carry the ash bucket OUTSIDE of the house, and dispose of ashes in your fire-safe container. Ashes and coals can stay hot for hours or days depending on how insulated they are. Do not risk dumping ashes or placing them near flammable materials.
Trust the Professionals
Throughout the year your fireplace and chimney can have a thorough cleaning when you schedule a chimney sweep. Schedule with Brickliners and you can rest assured that your firebox and chimney are clean of ash and soot. In between service appointments, follow expert advice from CSIA about handling wood ash, and don’t risk your health or your property by improper disposal of ashes.