After seeing a story about a local house fire, we feel the need to spread a warning. A Fairfield home caught fire last month after fireplace ashes were stored inside. Those ashes ignited a nearby wall, causing damage to the home. There are several steps to cleaning the ashes from your fireplace and storing them safely. First and foremost, never store ashes inside your home, as they can spark a fire or release deadly carbon monoxide into your home.
Proper ash disposal
First, wait at least 24 hours before removing ashes from your fireplace. Fires burn most efficiently when there’s a bed of ashes in place, so don’t remove ashes until more than one inch accumulates in the bottom or your firebox. When removing ash from your fireplace, always assume that ashes are still hot. Wear protective gloves and use metal tools. If you notice a burning ember while cleaning the fireplace, leave that ember in place, surrounded by a bed of ashes. Remove the ashes to a metal bucket. Store that metal bucket in well-ventilated area outside your home. Once the ashes are fully cooled, you can transfer them to a regular garbage bag and place them in your refuse bins to be picked up by your waste management service.
Other uses for ashes
While it’s perfectly safe and acceptable to throw ashes in with your regular garbage, ashes are a valuable organic material that you may want to put to good use. Here are some of our top uses for ashes:
• De-icer. Ash is a natural de-icer. Use it to melt ice on your sidewalks or in your driveway, or use it to create traction for a vehicle that’s stuck in the snow or on the ice.
• Compost. Ashes are completely compostable! Throw them in with the rest of your compost or sprinkle them on your garden before turning over your soil to add nutrients and feed your plants.
• Keep away garden pests. Sprinkling a line of ashes around your plants can keep away pests like slugs and snails.
• Get rid of the skunk smell. If your pet gets sprayed by a skunk or hit with an unpleasant smell, scrubbing him with ashes and rinsing him can help get rid of the skunk smell.
• Clean your fireplace doors. Dampen a sponge, dip it in ashes and scrub your glass fireplace doors. The ashes will help remove the caked on grime.
• Polish your silver. Mixing ashes with water to make a paste can be an incredibly effective silverware polish.
• Reduce algae growth in a pond. Sprinkling ashes into a pond, fountain or water feature can feed competing plants and help cut back on algae growth. Just sprinkle in one tablespoon of ashes per 1,000 gallons of water.
Regardless of how you choose to dispose of your ashes, make sure you dispose of them outside of your home! Proper ash disposal is key to keeping your home and your family safe, and if you have any questions about proper ash disposal, call the experts at Total Chimney Care. We’re committed to educating our customers about proper fireplace and chimney care to keep them safe.