Throughout winter your fire will produce byproducts, including soot, creosote, and ash. Your chimney professional will occasionally clean away the soot and creosote during routine chimney sweeps, however the ashes need to be removed on a regular basis in order to keep the fireplace safe.
Why Remove Fireplace Ash
The ashes in the fireplace can build up when not regularly removed, leading to buried coals, smothered flame, and will crowd the fire until logs fall out of the firebox. Too many ashes can become a mess, a pain, and a fire hazard. Ashes do have a use, though. Leaving a thin layer in the bottom of the firebox serves as insulation for your firebox, and leaving a small amount in the back of the firebox can be used to occasionally “bank” a fire for the night. This is the practice of saving coals beneath a pile of ashes to make it easier to light the fire the next day. Banking a fire is only safe in a closed unit such as an insert or stove.
How to Safely Remove Ashes
Before you remove your ashes, you should have the correct tools. Most fireplace accessories include a long-handled shovel, poker, and brush. It is also beneficial to keep a pair of long leather gloves on hand to avoid burns to the hands or wrist. Your ashes are best removed when there are enough that you have to arrange them to build your fire or safely feed your fire. Wait until the fire has gone out, and the ashes have cooled before removing them. Use the shovel to scoop the ashes from the fire box into a sturdy metal bucket with a handle. Once the ashes are in the bucket, carry it outside–even if it’s not all the way filled. You don’t want to leave these ashes in your house where they may ignite combustibles, so the ashes should be placed in a sturdy metal container, away from the house, with a lid. A metal trash can works well for this. It will keep moisture out so that you can use your ashes later.
Uses for Firewood Ash
Ashes are an organic byproduct of fire that have their uses all around the house.
In the garden – Ashes sprinkled around the perimeter of the garden and in between rows will deter slugs and insects from bothering your plants. Be careful about how much, though, because ashes add acid to the soil.
On sidewalks – Many homeowners opt to use ashes on icy sidewalks and driveways because they are readily available and work just as well as salt. The ashes may not melt the ice, but allows for safe walking on top of the ice.
In the garage – Keep a bucket of ashes in the garage and sprinkle on oil spills to absorb liquids and stop odors.
On the pets – A small amount of ashes rubbed into the fur of your pets can stop odors in their tracks in between baths. Ashes can also prevent mites and lice on poultry.
There are many uses for ashes that we haven’t even listed. Making lye, or using to polish silver, there are other great uses . Ashes are great for many things–just make sure you’re safe about removing and storing your ashes to keep everyone safe and warm this winter.
Then when winter is over, call on West Texas Chimney and Venting Solutions so that we can clean your chimney from top to bottom. Schedule services with West Texas now and you’ll be on the books in the spring!