Did you know fireplace safety continues even after the last flames go out? Proper disposal of ashes can make your home a safer place, and it also provides a variety of alternative ways to use ashes around the home. Ashes themselves are messy, but they are not dangerous. It is what lurks inside it that can create a safety hazard in your home. Coals and embers become cocooned in the ashes. When it is exposed to oxygen, the embers can spark again to reignite nearby combustible materials. Because of this, “wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days.”

The wrong way to get rid of ashes

fire in a wood fireplaceUnfortunately, many of the most common methods of ash removal are dangerous. The following are three of the wrong ways to rid of ashes.

  • Vacuuming. Using a shop vac or other vacuum can cause ash to become airborne – even if the vacuum has a HEPA filter. Any coals or embers within the ashes can also ignite other materials within the vacuum.
  • Putting ashes in a dumpster. Many dumpsters or trash cans from waste disposal companies have specific instructions not to put ashes inside.
  • Putting ashes in paper or cardboard. Many families scoop their ashes directly into paper bags, cardboard boxes, or other combustible containers. However, they can easily catch fire if the ashes are still too hot.

Tips for proper ash disposal

Proper ash disposal does not require much work, but it can make cleaning your fireplace significantly safer. The following four tips can help you safely dispose of ashes.

  • Stir ashes. After the fire goes out, you should continue to stir the ashes. This helps ensure there are no pockets of embers left within the ashes.
  • Use a special ash container. Use a metal container that is designed specifically for ashes. Good ash containers should sit off the ground, have a lid with a tight fit, and a handle for easy carrying.
  • Store ashes away from combustible materials. Keep your ash container away from combustibles such as firewood, paint, gasoline, or trash.
  • Wait before disposing of ashes. As a general rule, wait at least three days before removing ashes from the ash container. Most waste disposal companies do not want ashes mixed in with other trash, contact your provider for more information on how to dispose of ashes in your area.

Alternative uses for ashes at home

There are a number of ways that ashes can be used around the home. The following are three of the many useful ways to recycle your fireplace ashes.

  • Deice sidewalks and driveways. Ashes are a natural deicer. Because there are free from toxic chemicals, they are ideal for families with pets or small children. Just make sure to wipe your feet when you head inside!
  • Improve soil alkalinity. A small amount of fireplace ash can be mixed in with garden soil to add alkalinity to dirt.
  • Keep pests away. Sprinkling ash around the borders of flower beds or garden plots can help keep slugs, snails, and other garden pests away.

Properly disposing of ashes can make using your fireplace safer – and even help around the house! For more information on safe ash disposal, contact Coopertown Services today.