- 1 What are fireplace ashes good for?
- 2 How to safely collect ashes
What are fireplace ashes good for?
Fireplace ashes are a byproduct of burning wood or other materials in a fireplace or wood stove. While they may seem like a nuisance, there are actually a variety of uses for fireplace ashes that can save you time and money, as well as improve the health of your garden.
Fireplace ashes can serve as a soil amendment
One of the most common uses for fireplace ashes is as a soil amendment. Ashes are rich in nutrients, including potassium, calcium, and phosphorous, which can help improve the fertility of your garden soil. They can also be used to raise the pH level of acidic soil, making it more suitable for growing a variety of plants. To use ashes as a soil amendment, simply sprinkle them over the soil and work them into the soil with a rake or hoe.
Ashes can be used for pest control
Another use for fireplace ashes is as a natural pest control. Ashes can be sprinkled around the base of plants to repel slugs, snails, and other pests. This is because the sharp edges of the ashes can irritate the pests’ soft bodies, causing them to avoid the area. Additionally, ashes contain small amounts of lime which create an environment that is unfriendly for many insects.
Fireplace ashes are excellent for cleaning
Fireplace ashes can also be used for cleaning. They can be used to clean metal pots, pans and tools as a gentle abrasive, it will help to remove dirt and stains without scratching the surface. Additionally, a paste made from ash and water can be used to clean glass surfaces, like windows, as a mild abrasive that will buff away dirt and grime without leaving streaks. Also a solution of ash and water can be used as a cleaner for greasy surfaces.
Fireplace ashes serve as an effective de-icer in the winter
Another practical use for fireplace ashes is as a de-icer. During the winter, ashes can be spread on sidewalks, driveways, and other surfaces to help melt snow and ice. The ashes will absorb heat from the sun and cause the snow and ice to melt more quickly. This can also be used in frozen water systems, pipes, etc.
Ashes can be used to make lye
Finally, fireplace ashes can also be used to make lye. Lye is a caustic substance that is commonly used in making soap and other cleaning products. It can be made by mixing ashes with water and then straining the liquid through a cheesecloth or other fine mesh.
How to safely collect ashes
Bucket for fireplace ashes
It’s recommended to wait at least 72 hours after a fire has been put out to be sure the ashes are cool. Ashes should be allowed to cool completely, as they can retain heat for several days and potentially start a fire.
Once the ashes are cool, a metal scoop or shovel can be used to transfer them to a metal bucket for fireplace ashes with a tight-fitting lid. The bucket should be kept away from anything combustible, such as wooden decks or dry leaves, and should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area.
Vacuum for fireplace (aka chimney sweep vacuum)
Fireplace vacuums are specially designed to clean up the ash and debris that accumulates in a fireplace or wood stove. There are a number of models available for professionals and homeowners. They typically consist of a powerful suction motor and a hose or nozzle attachment that is used to suction up the ashes and debris. Some chimney sweep vacuums also have a built-in filter that captures any fine dust or ash particles that may be stirred up during the cleaning process.
Once collected, you can remove the ash container or bag. You can then collect the ashes using a small shovel or scoop and transfer them from the container or bag into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid.
Ultimately, fireplace ashes are a versatile and useful byproduct of burning wood in a fireplace or wood stove. Once safely collected, they can be used to improve soil fertility, repel pests, clean surfaces, melt ice, and make lye. By repurposing fireplace ashes, you can save money, reduce waste, and make your home and garden more sustainable.