Everyone knows ash to be the most obvious build up that a fire produces, the result of burning wood. But at what point does the ash need to be disposed of? Probably more often than a person would think. Protect yourself and help your plants with these instructions for the correct way to dispose of ash.
According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) it is actually a good thing to keep about an inch of ash beneath the grate of your fireplace to insulate hot coals and produce more heat during the winter season. While it does protect the bottom of the firebox and help the coals produce extra heat, too much of it can not only take precious space away from warmth-producing coals, it can be downright dangerous. Even ash that appears to be fully cool can fall onto nearby carpet or rugs and potentially start a fire.
The best way to dispose of excess ash is to wait at least a day after a fire was lit in the firebox before handing it. If that isn’t possible, wearing protective gloves when handling the bucket and shovel will minimize your risk of being burned. Gently scoop the ash from the firebox and place it in the bucket, leaving any hot coals and a thin layer of ash remaining. This will make your next fire easier to start. Carefully place the bucket in an area clear of any flammable material and away from kids or animals that may be tempted to play in the soft-looking pile. If possible, place a lid on top of the bucket to starve the hot ashes of oxygen, making them cool quicker. Sand will provide a similar reaction, but a lid is more easily accessible for most.
After three days, dispose of the ash in a paper or plastic garden bag. Sprinkling ash in your garden can be beneficial in small quantities, but don’t go crazy. Ash is very alkaline, so too much will change the pH of the soil, and kills your plants.
Besides just trashing your leftover ashes, there are several other alternatives to make use of them. Use your cool ashes to gently exfoliate the glass doors of your fireplace and remove that unattractive residue. If your pet gets into something smelly, rubbing ash on their coat will neutralize any gross odor. In the winter, pouring ash on your driveway and sidewalks melts ice and isn’t as harmful to the soil and concrete as salt is.
We want to ensure that everyone is safe and cozy this fall, and removing the ash from your firebox regularly is a key factor in ensuring that. When we come to sweep and inspect your chimney we will check the firebox to make sure it is in top working order. Give us a call to schedule!