When you burn wood, ashes are a fact of life. If you are using your fireplace regularly, the amount of ashes in the firebox adds up quickly. Removing these ashes is essential because not only do they pose a risk to the cleanliness of your home, but, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), if the ashes are so deep that they are in contact with the fireplace grate, it could cause the grate to burn out prematurely. When you are using your fireplace every day in the winter, you should be removing ashes every one to two weeks. However, this maintenance task can be hazardous, so you need to know how to properly and safely remove ashes. As you can tell from our name, Ashbusters knows all about ashes and is experienced with the best methods of ash removal. We would like to share with you some tips to remove ashes safely as well as to give you a few ideas of how you can use these ashes in practical ways.
Do you have a wet/dry vacuum with a disposable bag?
If you do, consider yourself very lucky as you can use it to safely remove ashes in minutes. However, you will have to wait at least four days after the fire has been extinguished to allow the ashes to cool down enough for safe vacuuming. After you have let the smoldering ashes die down, all you have to do is vacuum them up, and then toss the disposable bag! The CSIA does recommend that you leave a thin layer of ashes to help you build and maintain a fire. A one-inch layer of ashes will insulate the firebox and protect its floor.
No vacuum? The traditional way is just as simple.
You will need a few important tools: a metal ash bucket with a lid, a metal ash shovel, gloves, and a face mask if you would rather not inhale any ashes. You only have to wait for 24 hours after the fire has been put out before you can start scooping out ashes with the shovel into the metal bucket. If you come across any hot ashes, just scoot them to the back of the firebox with the shovel. Once you have gathered the ashes into the bucket, place the lid on tightly and take the bucket outside to store. You never want to place the bucket on a combustible surface like wood; we recommend concrete or brick. You should let the bucket sit for at least three days to allow any lingering smoldering ashes to die out. After three days, you can either dispose of the ashes in your trash, or you can use the ashes as suggested below.
How can I make practical use of my disposed ashes?
Gardeners know that adding a bit of ash to soil adds nutrients that boost the growth of plants. You can also improve the quality of your compost by adding a bit of ash to your bin. Even more useful is sprinkling ashes evenly around your garden beds as a natural repellent to slugs and snails. Believe it or not – ashes can help you clean! You can make a paste of ash and water to polish silver, you can sprinkle ashes on a damp sponge to deep clean glass fireplace doors, and you can even make soap out of ashes! When you soak ashes in water, lye is created. Mix the lye with animal fat, and boil this mixture to make soap.
Knowing the best ways to maintain your wood-burning fireplace or stove can prolong the life of your heating appliance. Contact us at Ashbusters to find out more maintenance tips.