The weather has warmed up significantly, and we’re soon going to be embracing the hot days of summer and sunshine here in Indianapolis and its surrounding areas. While this is great for pool trips and family vacations, it typically means your fireplace is going to be out of use for the foreseeable future. This means it’s a great time to invest in masonry repairs and other fireplace maintenance services.

It’s also the perfect time to clear your fireplace ash out of your firebox if you have a wood-burning system. We’ve got tips and advice for getting the job done appropriately and – more importantly – safely.

Questions? Give us a call. Or, if you need to book an appointment in the off-season, reach out online today.

Can I Leave Ash in My Fireplace?

During the burn season, yes – you can leave some ash in your fireplace. In fact, it can actually be beneficial. A thin layer of ash helps insulate the firebox, maintaining a higher temperature for the next fire and aiding in fire starting. It also protects the bottom of the firebox from intense heat, minimizing the risk of damages and wear.

At the end of the burning season, though, it is essential to clear all ash from the firebox. Removing accumulated ash helps avoid corrosion and prevent damage to the firebox, as well as other surrounding chimney components. How so? Ash can retain moisture when left to sit and create a damp environment conducive to rusting and deterioration.

Also, if you’re booking an inspection, this maintenance step can help prepare the fireplace for your chimney sweep.

original infographic on dos and don'ts of fireplace ash removal

What’s the Appropriate Way To Dispose of Fireplace Ash?

Proper disposal of fireplace ash is vital for avoiding burns and potential fires. Here’s our advice to go about the process safely.

1. Cool the Ash Completely: Allow the ash to cool for at least 24-48 hours after the fire has burned out. Stir the ash occasionally to ensure there are no hot spots.

2. Transfer Ash to a Metal Container: Use a metal shovel or scoop, transfer the cooled ash into a metal container with a tight-fitting lid. Avoid using paper, plastic, or cardboard containers, as they can catch fire if the ash is still hot. Once all the ash is scooped, seal the container tightly.

3. Store Safely: Place the closed metal container outside and away from any buildings, decks, or other combustible materials. This ensures that, should there are any hidden embers, they will not be exposed to oxygen and potentially cause a fire.

What Are My Ash Disposal Options?

Some of the more common ways people dispose of ash include:

  • Trash Disposal: Once the ash is completely cool and free of any embers, you can dispose of it in your regular trash. Make sure to use a plastic bag to contain the ash and prevent it from blowing around
  • Composting: Wood ash can be beneficial for composting in small amounts. It can act as a soil amendment, adding valuable nutrients like calcium and potassium. However, be cautious not to add too much, as ash can increase the pH of the soil.
  • Garden Use: Wood ash can be used directly in the garden to help balance acidic soil. Sprinkle it lightly around the base of plants that prefer more alkaline conditions. Avoid using ash from treated wood, though, as it can contain harmful chemicals.

Now, there are also a lot of other more…unique ways to use fireplace ash, as well. Here’s a handful of alternative options to use up your ash:

  • Cleaning Uses: Make a paste with ash and a bit of water to clean glass, silver, and metal surfaces, including fireplace doors and tarnished silverware. Ash can also help remove stains from concrete surfaces and other tough-to-clean areas.
  • Extinguishing Fires: Some people keep a bucket of ash handy to help extinguish small fires, as it can smother flames by cutting off oxygen.
  • Pest Control: Ash can be used to deter pests like slugs and snails. Create a barrier around plants to keep these pests away from plants and flowers.
  • De-Icer: We know all about ice here in Indiana. Wintertime brings snow, sleet, and slippery surfaces, but sprinkling ash on icy walkways and driveways can provide traction and help melt the ice.
  • Odor Neutralizer: Ash works similar to baking soda in its ability to absorb foul odors. Place a small container of ash in musty areas, like basements, to absorb odors.
  • Chicken Coop Use: Have some chickens? Sprinkle ash in the chicken coop to help control mites and add minerals to the soil when it’s cleaned out.
  • Homemade Soap: Ash can be used to make lye, which is an essential ingredient in homemade soap.

Quick note: Never dispose of ash in water bodies, storm drains, or sewers. Ash can alter the pH of the water and harm aquatic life.

Call Smalling Masonry for Your Chimney & Fireplace Services in Indianapolis

If you need chimney services in Indianapolis, call Smalling Masonry. Our experienced team is dedicated to ensuring the safety and efficiency of your home and family. Whether you need routine maintenance, repairs, or a complete rebuild, we’ve got you covered.

Contact us now to schedule your service and experience the difference personal and professional care makes.