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Proper Ash Removal

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When it comes to fireplace safety, many homeowners believe that their worries end as soon as the fire goes out. However, there is one important part of using a fireplace that should not be ignored – proper ash removal.

Knowing how to correctly remove and dispose of your ashes can not only make your home safer, but can also keep you from creating unnecessary messes and even be used in unexpected alternative ways. By taking the time to do it the right way, homeowners can rest assured that they have done everything in their power to keep their families and homes safe from accidental fires.

Proper ash removal - Ann Arbor MI - Clean Sweeps of michigan


Are ashes dangerous?

The limp and lifeless ashes that are left over after a fire are anything but menacing. While there is nothing inherently dangerous about ashes themselves, it’s what can be hidden in the ashes that can cause a safety concern.

Hot coals and embers can become trapped or hidden in pockets of ash; even after the fires dies out and the ashes begin to cool, these embers can remain dormant and ignite later on. “Wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days.” This means that homeowners need to treat ash removal with care and caution, even if the fire has been out for some time.

Removing ashes – the wrong way

While everyone has their favorite way of cleaning the fireplace, many of the most popular ash removal methods are unsafe and incorrect. The following are a few examples of dangerous – or dirty – ash removal methods that should not be used.

  • Vacuum: Even if your vacuum has a HEPA filter, the fine ash particles often become airborne. This not only pollutes your air quality but can also stain walls and furnishings.
  • Paper bags: Putting ashes into a combustible container like a paper bag or cardboard box can lead to an unintentional fire if any coals or embers remain.
  • Trash cans: Many trash or dumpster fires are caused each year by not-quite cold ashes being mixed in with regular garbage.

Removing ashes – the right way!

Removing ashes the right way takes three things: time, patience, and a proper ash container. First, homeowners should let fires naturally extinguish. During this process, it is important to stoke and move the ashes frequently to prevent any coals or embers from remaining hidden in the ash. Depending on the size of the fire and how much wood was used, it may take a full day or longer for the ashes to cool completely.

After the ashes have cooled, it is important that they are placed in a proper container. A good ash container is metal, has a fitted lid, and does not sit directly on the ground. Ash containers should never be placed near combustible materials; this includes being stored indoors or in garages or sheds. Lastly, follow local rules or regulations when it comes to the time and location of ash disposal; many trash companies have rules about ash being picked up with regular garbage, even it is in a separate container.

If you don’t want your ashes to go to waste, consider using them in an alternative way. Ashes can be sprinkled in the garden to work as both a fertilizer and bug repellent. Likewise, they can also be used as a natural deicer for driveways and sidewalks – as long as you don’t mind dirty shoes!