Review Our Business
Schedule an appointment TODAY!

Clean Sweeps of Michigan's Blog

How To Use The Ashes You’ve Accumulated All Season

After a long winter of using a wood burning fireplace, many homeowners are left with large amounts of ashes. If your family burns a full cord of wood, you could produce as much as 50 pounds of ashes over the course of the winter.

While most homeowners just throw their ashes away, there are a number of alternate uses for ashes – particularly in the springtime. The following are just a few of the ways that ashes can be used both inside and outside your home this spring. 

1. Block garden pests. Slugs and snails are naturally repelled by ashes; sprinkling ashes around the border of a garden or flower bed can create a natural barrier for these pests.

2. De-skunk pets. Wild animals are more prevalent during the spring than during other times of the year; because of this, household dogs and cats may have an unfortunate run-in with a skunk. Instead of running to the store to buy cans of tomato juice, use fireplace ashes instead. Rubbing ashes into a pet’s fur can help quickly eliminate offensive odors from an accidental skunk spray.

3. Control pond algae. If you have a fountain, pond, or other water feature at your home, it can be difficult to control pond algae without the use of harsh chemicals. Adding 1 tablespoon of fireplace ashes per 1,000 gallons of water can create enough potassium to allow water plants to compete against algae growth.

4. Add alkalinity to lawns. Fireplace ashes are naturally alkaline; this makes them an ideal natural additive to change the pH of soil. Adding a small amount of ashes to lawns or potting soil is all that is needed to change the alkalinity.

5. Make your own soap. Ashes can be used as an unexpected ingredient when making either soap or candles. Begin by soaking ashes, which can turn them into lye; this can then be mixed with fats and fragrances and boiled to produce candles and soap.

6. Absorb paint. If you’re painting outside, don’t let splatters permanently stain your cement. Mix ashes into wet paint spots on the pavement; the ash and paint will blend together and prevent staining.

Storing ashes

Whether you’re waiting to use your ashes for a household project or are simply storing them before putting them out with the trash, it is important that fireplace ashes are correctly stored. Even if they are destined for the trash, ashes should be stored in an ash-specific metal container for several days; because wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days, they should never be placed with regular waste to prevent trash or dumpster fires.

Ash containers should sit off of the floor, have a long handle, and a tight-fitting lid. Likewise, ashes should not be stored in an area around other combustible materials; keep ash containers away from woodpiles, garages, sheds, and other buildings to reduce the risk of accidental fire.

This year, don’t throw all your ashes away with the rest of the trash. Instead, try one or more of these alternate uses for the ashes you’ve accumulated all season. For more information about how to properly store or dispose of fireplace ashes, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today.

Proper Ash Removal

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!

Recent Posts

Find Posts About