When you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, it is a fact of life that you will always have ashy remains after a fire. However, not everyone knows how to properly remove ashes. At Bart Fireside, our customers repeatedly ask us questions concerning proper ash removal. As the fall season and its cooler temperatures approach, we would like to share our answers with you to help you safely remove ashes from the firebox of your wood-burning stove or fireplace.
Exactly how often do I need to remove the ashes from my firebox?
Actually, the frequency of ash removal depends on which type of wood-burning heating appliance you own and which species of wood you are using as fuel. For example, softwoods weigh less and have the potential to produce a larger amount of ashes than hardwoods, so if you like to burn softer species of wood such as cypress, fir, pine, and spruce, you will have to remove ashes more often than if you prefer burning hardwoods like birch, elm, hickory, maple, and oak. You do not necessarily have to remove ashes after every fire. In fact, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends leaving an inch deep layer of ashes in your firebox makes it easier to build and maintain a fire. This layer of ash will help add heat to your fire as the hot coals will nestle into the ashes and glow to reflect the heat back into the flame. Another benefit of the ash layer is its protection of the bottom of your firebox.
Can I store the ashes in a simple metal bucket?
One of the most common ways of removing the ash from your fireplace and home, placing the ashes in a lidless metal bucket is really not the proper way to remove ashes and can even be dangerous. When you scoop up the remaining ashes after a fire, bits and pieces of hot coals are usually hiding within the ashes. These pieces of hot coals can stay dormant for weeks since ashes act as an insulator that keeps them from completely burning out, and all these hot coals need to flare up once again is oxygen. This is why storing disposed ashes in a metal bucket without a lid can be a serious fire hazard. Winter winds can stir up these ashes and reactivate them. If the bucket gets knocked over, the hot coals mixed in with the ashes can start a fire as they are dispersed out on the ground or your porch floor.
Can disposed ashes serve any beneficial purpose?
Ashes from wood make excellent additions to your garden’s soil due to the high content of potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorous. Best used where there is a high rainfall, the alkaline in wood ashes can balance out the high acid levels in the soil.
What is the best container for disposed ashes?
A sheet metal bucket with an elevated bottom, a large wire handle for easier carrying, and a tightly-fitted lid is the optimum container for housing removed ashes. To further protect yourself from a possible fire, never place this bucket on a wood floor, but on concrete, stone, brick, or slate flooring instead just in case the ash spills.
If you have any further questions about proper ash removal, contact Bart Fireside today. We would be glad to answer any query you may have on this topic.