Whenever you burn a solid fuel (wood, coal or pellets) in your stove, fireplace or insert, you will be left with ashes that need to be removed. These ashes must be removed periodically, as they can affect the performance and durability of your unit. The frequency of the ash removal will depend on the product itself and the type of fuel being burned.
IMPROPER ASH REMOVAL CAN BE DANGEROUS
Improper ash removal from fireplaces and wood burning stoves causes thousands of fires in the U.S. every year. According to the NFPA, almost 10,000 fires are caused yearly due to improperly removing and discarding ashes. Hot coals, hidden in a pile of ashes and thus well insulated, can stay hot for up to four days because the ash acts as an insulator that keeps the coals from burning out. All these coals need to flare up again is more oxygen. It’s for this reason that fire departments often return to a scene to spray more water on smoldering timbers and newly flared coals.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN AN ASH CONTAINER
Never empty ashes into a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box, or other similar container. The only suitable means for ash storage is a metal container with a tight-fitting lid, as this helps keep air from blowing through and disturbing the ashes, which can leave hot coals exposed and easily reignited. For optimum safety, wet the wood ashes prior to attaching the metal lid to the pail. As a safety precaution, never store your metal ash container on your deck, in your garage, or in any location that may allow heat to transfer from those hot coals to nearby flammable items. Countless wooden decks catch fire each year because of this simple oversight. Instead, place the container on a non-combustible surface such as stone, concrete, brick, or slate.
GREEN USES FOR YOUR FIREPLACE ASH
Wood ash, once completely cooled, can safely be used in numerous ways:
- It makes a great soil additive that your plants will enjoy because they are high in potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Tomatoes, which are calcium-loving plants, are especially fond of the addition. Simply place ¼ cup directly in the hole when planting.
- It helps to enrich compost. Remember, though, that moderation is key. Sprinkling in a few ashes will be enough to enhance its nutrients, while adding too much, however, can ruin the mix altogether.
- With winter quite possibly coming to an end at some point in the near future, you may want to file this away for next year: ashes can be used to melt ice and add much-needed traction without hurting the soil or concrete underneath.
- Once all of the ice and snow has melted away, your fireplace ashes can be used to spot treat and hide stains on your paved areas.
- When used around your landscaping, wood ash can help repel pests, including moles, snails and slugs. You should spread it evenly around garden beds and landscape perimeters to keep the unwanted pests off of your property and relegated to someone else’s.
Protecting your family and preserving your home and lifestyle is important. We want to be sure we’re providing our families, neighbors and friends with the best possible services! If you’d like any additional information on this and many other topics, contact Old Smokey’s Fireplace & Chimney today. We look forward to helping you keep your family and your home protected and warm for the long haul.