Although there’s nothing quite like the warmth and beauty of a crackling fire, every fireplace owner knows that there’s nothing quite as messy as trying to get rid of the ash that remains after you’ve built several fires. But did you know that you shouldn’t clear out all the ash that’s left on the floor of the firebox? That ash can actually serve several purposes that can be useful when building a fire in your fireplace!
What Ash is Good For
First, different types of wood make more or less ash. Softwoods tend to make more ash than hardwoods, so if you’re trying to reduce the amount of ash, try burning hardwoods such as hickory, oak, or sugar maple. Burning hardwoods also has the benefit of burning as a hot, long-lasting fire.
When you clean out your firebox, make sure that you leave a good inch or so of ashes. This will help you out in a couple of ways. First, that ash acts as an insulator for the next fire that you build. The ash makes it easier to build your fire, and once the fire is going, it also helps to keep that fire going. Not only that, but the hot coals rest in the ash and glow, which keeps more heat within the ash and reflects that heat back into the fire.
You don’t want to leave too much ash, however, because this can cause damage to your grate. Too much ash might touch the bottom of your grate, which means that when the coals reflect back, it may actually hit the grate, which will cause it to wear out prematurely. In order to avoid this, you’ll want to clean out some of those ashes!
How to Clean Ash
First, when you decide to clean out the ash in your fireplace, make sure that you wait awhile after the fire is out to make sure that no hot embers are still there, or you could be hurt. Waiting for around 72 hours is a good rule to follow. Next, understand that it might get a little messy to get those ashes out because they are very light and fluffy. In order to make the ashes less fly-away, sprinkle some used coffee grounds over the ashes to weigh them down. Next, use a fireplace shovel to scoop up all but about an inch of the ashes. Have a garbage bag lined bucket or can waiting for the ashes so that you don’t risk leaving a trail of ashes across the room. Dispose of the ashes outside of your home.
In the End, Trust the Professionals
Taking care of your fireplace by cleaning the ashes after ever couple fires is an important part of being a fireplace owner. But make sure that you go that extra step and call us at Chimney Doctors of Colorado to do an annual inspection and cleaning once the weather turns nice!