Fire safety doesn’t end when the flames go out; it is important for homeowners to learn how to properly remove, store, and dispose of their fireplace ashes. Proper ash disposal can make both your fireplace and your home safer during the fall and winter burning season.
Are ashes dangerous?
Fireplace ashes are often a hassle; shoveling, scooping, and cleaning ashes after a fire can be seen as an additional hassle in the way of enjoying your fireplace. While ashes themselves are more messy than dangerous, they can create pockets around smoldering embers and coals. In fact, wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days.
Disposing of ashes – the wrong way
Many of the most common methods of ash removal and disposal are actually unsafe. The following are just a few of the wrong ways you may be disposing of ashes.
– Vacuuming. Vacuuming ashes, even with a shop vac or a vacuum with a HEPA filter, can cause ash and soot to become airborne. Likewise, smoldering embers sucked up by the vacuum can ignite other materials in the collecting bag or container.
– Putting ashes in combustible containers. Cardboard boxes and paper bags are commonly used to collect ashes straight from the fireplace. However, these combustible containers can catch fire if any embers or coals are in the ashes.
– Putting ashes into trash cans or dumpsters. Ashes should never be transferred directly to a trash can or dumpster. Hot coals or embers can ignite other trash and lead to dumpster fires.
Disposing of ashes – the right way
The following tips can help you safely remove and dispose of fireplace ashes in your home.
– Stir ashes. As a fire dies down, continue to stir the ashes. This helps prevents embers or coals from lying dormant in the ashes by exposing them to outside air.
– Use an ash container. Designate a special ash container; ash containers should be made of metal, sit off the ground, and have a tight-fitting lid and a handle.
– Keep ashes away from other combustibles. Ash containers should be stored away from the fireplace, firewood, or other combustible materials. This helps prevent accidental fires.
– Wait three days before throwing ashes into the trash. Ashes should remain in the ash container for at least three days before putting them into trash cans or dumpsters to prevent fires. However, it is important to check with your waste management company on whether or not ashes can be thrown away with regular trash.
Alternate uses for ashes
There are several ways you can use fireplace ashes around your home.
– Natural deicer. Sprinkle sidewalks and steps with ashes to melt ice and create traction.
– Prevent garden pests. Sprinkle ashes around the borders of flower beds to create a natural barrier against slugs and snails.
– Add alkalinity to the soil. Small amounts of ashes can be added to soil to change its alkalinity.
Properly disposing of fireplace ashes can prevent accidental fires and make using your fireplace safer. For more information on proper ash disposal, contact Coopertown Services today.