If you burn wood in a fireplace, insert, or stove, you probably have your fair share of ashes to deal with. If you don’t remove the ashes regularly, you probably have a mess on your hands. Ashes are a necessary product of wood heat. It accumulates fast, can be a pain, and can even affect the way your fireplace works. What can you do with all those ashes?

Remove Ashes Regularly

Ashes will build up in your fireplace, insert, or stove fairly quickly if you don’t remove them regularly—especially if you burn a fire every day. You should clean the firebox of ashes before it accumulates higher than your hot coals. Once the ashes get this high, it can interfere with lighting a fire, can fall out of the fireplace, can crowd your firebox, and prevent you from adding enough wood to reach the desired temperature.

Remove Ashes Safely

You should use appropriate tools to remove ashes because ashes may be hot for several hours even after the fire goes out. You can purchase fireplace accessories and tools at a local home improvement store that are manufactured for safety and strength. Use a long-handled shovel to scoop ashes from the firebox, and dispose of them in a metal bucket. Along with your tools for ash removal, you can also buy long, leather gloves to protect your hands and wrists from high temperatures. Some may also need to wear a face mask to protect from ash inhalation. Carry the bucket out of the house and allow to cool at least five feet from the house. Many homeowners choose to store ashes in a larger container such as a metal trash can with a lid, to use later.

Ways to Use Wood Ash

Make sure you leave some ash in your firebox (at least ¼ inch), because it insulates the bottom. The rest can be stored and used as you see fit.

  • Add ashes to your garden to change the acidity of the soil. You can test your soil with the help of your local co-op or university extension office, then you will know how much ash to add.
  • Mix ashes and water to polish silver, clean ovens, pans, and more.
  • Pour ashes on sidewalks and driveways to prevent slips during icy weather.
  • Use ashes to clean up oil spills in your garage, carport, or driveway.
  • Sprinkle ashes around the outside of your garden and in between rows to deter bugs and slugs.
  • Dust ashes into the coats of pets to neutralize odors (especially helpful after a skunk attack).
  • Use the ashes to make lye which can be used to make homemade soap.

Know Your System

You may have a built-in ash disposal system in your fireplace. Many older model homes with a traditional, masonry fireplace have an ash dump—a hole in the fireplace where ashes can be dropped and disposed of safely. This ash dump should be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep regularly. The experts at the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommend cleaning your entire system of ash at the end of burn season. Keeping your chimney system clean by scheduling regular chimney sweeps will prevent damage and trouble during the summer like smells and drafts.

Call Billy Sweet Chimney Sweep at 617-469-4528 now, and schedule your chimney maintenance.