Spring is nearly here, and if you’re like most, you’re wrapping up your burning season. This means scheduling your annual inspection, seasoning wood for next season, and clearing all of that ash out of your firebox.
Actually, clearing out ash at the end of the season is an important part of springtime maintenance! Ash piles can draw in moisture over the warmer months if left unaddressed, causing deterioration throughout your firebox, and they can break down your fireplace grate in a hurry, too. That said, it’s imperative that you remove any fireplace ash safely to avoid fire hazards and injuries.
So, what’s the best way for removing ash? We suggest following these steps:
- Let it cool down for 24 hours. If you’ve recently lit a fire, be sure to hold off a day or two!
- Use a metal scoop when removing the ash as live embers can live in your ash pile for days.
- Scoop the ashes into a metal bucket with a tight-fitting lid. The lid will prevent oxygen from entering and igniting any embers.
- Put the sealed bucket on a non-flammable surface well away from your home.
- Wait a few days to ensure the ashes have completely cooled.
Have you completed all of the steps? Great! …but now what? Should the ashes just be dumped out? Well, you can do this, but if you’re looking for other ways to utilize these leftovers, you’re in luck because ashes can be put to use in lots of ways throughout your home!
So, why not reap the benefits of this free resource? We’ve gone through some of the more popular options below.
Use it When Gardening & Composting
When you mix wood ash into your garden soil, it can help boost its calcium nutrients, raise pH levels, and minimize acidity. That said, some plants love those high acidity levels, so be cautious when going about this and be sure to do your research! For instance, it’s not recommended to use ash in azaleas, mountain heather, rhododendrons, camellias, daffodils, blueberries, nasturtiums, ixoras, or strawberries.
- Citrus plants
- Stone fruit trees
Have a compost bin? Toss some wood ash in there, too! It builds potassium and lowers acidity levels, which helps when mulching any veggies in there. It also helps create an ideal environment for worms to thrive – and worms are great for compost! (And it will keep other animals from sneaking in and snatching stuff up, too.)
Cleaning Up Your Household
Are the glass doors of your fireplace or wood stove looking a little grimy after months of use? Here’s another area where wood ash comes in handy. Grab some newspaper, get it damp, then dip it in your cooled down ash to create an ideal sponge for clearing things up. Soon enough, your glass doors will be looking clean and shiny!
But that’s not all wood ash can be used for when it comes to spring cleaning… Ash is also great for polishing silver, clearing up cloudy car headlights, absorbing bad odors around the house, and it even acts as a repellent for cockroaches and moths. Back in the day, people even used wood ash to make their own soaps!
(We’ve even heard that ash can be used with toothpaste to help whiten teeth, but we’re not so sure that’s something we’d suggest. Do so at your own risk!)
Getting Some Extra Traction
The areas we serve in Northern and Central New York, as well as Western Massachusetts are known for getting snowy, icy weather in the winter months. Now, oftentimes by the time we clear out ash in our fireplace, we’re gearing up for warmer weather, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get a few more cold spurts!
If your sidewalks are on the slippery side, sprinkle some ash on them to improve traction. You can also use it if you need some traction on your tires when attempting to get out of the driveway. Or store some in your vehicle in case you get stuck out on the road.
This is a great tip to keep in mind during the burning season, too! As you empty ash out from time to time, be sure to save it and use it as a free de-icer whenever needed.
Soaking Up Oil Spills
Speaking of using ash on your sidewalks and in your driveway, keep it on hand for any oil spills, too! If the concrete in your garage or driveway get stained, ash can help soak up the oil, improving the appearance of your property, and reducing the risk of slippery falls.
Do you have pets in your household? Rubbing ash into their fur can help to both neutralize any foul odors they may be carrying around (e.g. if they got sprayed by a skunk), and it can help to kill any fleas, ticks, or parasites present in their coat, as well. Rumor is, it aids in drying out the pests, thus causing them to die.
Just ask chickens! They’re known for taking dust baths in wood ash to keep parasites at bay. So, if you have farm animals to tend to, wood ash might be of service to you there, too.
Need Chimney Care This Spring?
If you need professional care, we’re here to help. The sooner you book your annual maintenance with us, they sooner we can help you out with any necessary repairs or sweeping services, ensuring you’re all set and ready to use your fireplace come fall.
Don’t wait to call us in – we’d love to hear from you!