Proper Ash Removal Procedures

If you have a wood burning heating appliance, one of the most difficult parts of maintenance and upkeep can be removing the ashes after each fire. While most of us rush to get this chore completed, it is important to take the steps to carefully and correctly remove the ashes.

Are ashes dangerous?

Proper-Ash-Removal-Procedures-Evergreen-CO-Mountain-Man-Fireplace-and-Chimney-300x225While ashes are certainly dirty, there is nothing inherently dangerous about them. However, it’s what is hidden in the ashes that can is the real safety risk; ashes can hide pockets or coals or embers, allowing them to remain dormant for days after the fire has gone out. According to forestry officials, “Wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days,” meaning that ashes should be treated with care and caution long after the fire has gone out.

Unsafe ash removal methods

Some of the most common ash removal methods are also the most unsafe. Below are some common ash removal methods that can cause safety issues.

  • Removing ash with a vacuum: Most vacuums – even those with HEPA filters – cannot prevent ash particles from becoming airborne. Using a vacuum often results in carpets, walls, and furnishings that are coated in smudgy layers of soot rather than a clean firebox,
  • Storing ashes in paper bags or cardboard boxes: Because hot embers or coals can remain in the ashes, they should never be stored in a combustible container.
  • Dumping ashes into the regular trash: Fresh ashes should never be placed into the regular trash to reduce the risk of accidental fire. For questions on how to dispose of ashes in your area, contact your local trash or sanitation department.

Removing ashes – the right way

These easy-to-follow steps can ensure that you are removing ashes from your fireplace the right way.

  1. Allow the fire to extinguish naturally. Let the fire burn itself overnight; while this is happening, use a fireplace tool to stir the ashes to help eliminate hotspots. Water should never be used to put out a fire in an indoor fireplace as the moisture may seriously damage your firebox – as well as create a big mess.
  2. Transfer ashes to a special ash container. After the fire has extinguished and the ashes have cooled, transfer them to a special ash container. Ash containers should be made of metal, have a tight fitting lid, sit off the ground, and have a long handle for easy transferring and carrying. Ash containers should never be stored near combustible materials in case any hot coals or embers remain.
  3. Wait to dispose of ashes – or come up with an alternative use for them. Depending on your area and sanitation company, the rules may differ as to when and how ashes are to be disposed of. However, you don’t have to throw them away; there are a number of alternative uses for ashes around the home. In the garden, ashes can be used to fertilize soil or as a natural slug and snail repellent. In the winter, sprinkle ashes on sidewalks or driveways as an alternative to salt!

For all your chimney and fireplace needs, call Mountain Man Fireplace and Chimney at 303-679-1601. We’re professionals who get the job done right.