Once burned, solid fuels like wood, coal, and pellets will leave homeowners with ashes to remove. The amount of ash and frequency of removal will depend on several factors including the type of wood burned (softwoods or hardwoods, anthracite coal or bituminous, etc.), the type of fuel, and the appliance itself. For instance, if you burn coal you’ll have much more ash than you would from burning wood. Ash will also contain different substances depending on the fuel. Coal ash contains things like cobalt and boron that are toxic to humans, animals, and plants.
Precautions must be taken both during and after ash removal, and believe it or not, there may be ways to reuse your ash once you’ve removed it. Perhaps in your garden! Read on for all the basics of ash removal or feel free to call Hudson Chimney with any questions you may have. Also refer to the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s guide called “To Remove or Not to Remove Ash.”
How to Remove Ash
We would venture to say that the majority of homeowners who scoop ash do so into a simple metal pail. This pail then gets set outside. This isn’t a great idea, especially if it’s being set outside onto a wooden porch. Because hot coals can survive buried beneath ash for even a few weeks it is imperative to treat ash very carefully, as a hot pail can char a wooden deck. We’ve also seen coals be blown onto a deck, where they may catch fire.
The answer to these potential problems is to purchase a dedicated ash pail or ash holder, which should have a large handle and a bottom that’s slightly offset from the very bottom so that it doesn’t make contact with the surface on which it’s resting. Most importantly, the pail or holder should come equipped with a lid that closes tightly. There are numerous options for ash pails and holders in many styles so you don’t have to sacrifice style for safety.
And if you have ashes from burning wood, you may want to consider adding the ash to your garden to diminish its acid content. Wood ash has a high content of potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorus and can help decrease the acid level of your soil if need be. We recommend testing your soil prior to adding wood ash, however, as it may not prove helpful if your soil is very dry to start with.
If you live in northeast Florida and need your fireplace, stove, and/or chimney professionally cleaned, contact Hudson Chimney. We handle everything from simple sweeps to complete restorations.
If you’re interested in ease of cleaning, you may also want to read about our chimney clean-out doors, which allow you to clean your fireplace and chimney flue.