How to Dispose of Fireplace Ashes

Fireplaces are one of the nicest places in the home, especially during the cold season. It keeps us warm and beautifies the living room. To properly enjoy the fireplace, you need to be able to keep it clean. It is a dusty and messy job, but by carefully following instructions, you should be able to do it. 

Because it is a messy job, you should ensure your health issues before doing it. If you have issues with dust or substances that trigger you, then it is best you let someone else do it instead to protect yourself.

How Can I Safely Dispose of Fireplace Ash?

Improper ash disposal can result in burns, a fire hazard, or a carbon monoxide risk. It is simple to dispose of fireplace ash safely; you can either throw it away or recycle and reuse it. Just follow these steps to ensure that the ashes have completely burned out and are ready for disposal. There are two major methods:

Tossing Ashes in the Garbage

1. Get the Right Tools and Materials

Here are some tools you’ll need before disposing of ashes:

  • Face mask to prevent you from inhaling dust.
  • Safety glasses to protect your eyes from dust and other harmful substances.
  • Bucket—preferably metal and non-flammable
  • Shovel, preferably metal, to pack the ashes with.
  • Fire-resistant gloves to protect your hands from dust and prevent injuries.

2. Let Ashes Build Up in the Fireplace

One of the most common errors is clearing the ashes from the fireplace after each fire burns out. A small ash cushion at the bottom of the fireplace insulates the fire, allowing it to burn longer and hotter. Allow for approximately an inch of ashes at the bottom of your fireplace. Consider discarding the ashes once they have accumulated beyond that point; if the ashes are reaching the bottom of the fireplace grate, it’s time to remove them.

3. Allow the Ashes to Cool Before Proceeding.

Since your fireplace is made up of wood that burns, you must ensure that the ashes are cold before handling them. Ashes that are still hot or warm have the possibility of starting a new fire, which can be dangerous, especially if that’s not what you have in mind. If it is an indoor fireplace, keep the fire screen closed while waiting for it to cool down.

4. Gather the Ashes

When you’re sure your ashes are completely cold, wear your gloves and use the shovel to pack the ashes into your bucket. Make sure you’re close to the fireplace to avoid spilling some on the floor.

5. Toss it in the garbage

When you’ve taken the bucket containing ashes outside, it is advisable to pour water over it to ensure that any life left will completely die. Pour enough water into the bucket so it can be completely wet.

Leave the bucket outside so it dries a little before throwing it away. There are no special ways of disposing of the ashes, so just put them in with your regular trash in your trash can and wait for it to be moved.

SEE: How to Dispose of Spray Paint

Repurposing and Reusing the Ashes

Many people have also taken to repurposing their ashes instead of disposing of them. Repurposing, in this case, means finding other ways to use it in the home in a way that will help you. Here are some ways you can reuse your fireplace ashes.

1. Make Soap

Many people do not know this, but lye, which is the common name for sodium hydroxide, can be gotten from ashes. Lye is one of the key ingredients for making soap. To get lye from ashes, all you need to do is boil your ashes in water for about 30 minutes or more, depending on how high your heat is. The ashes that settle at the bottom of the pot are lye.

For making lye, the ashes of hardwood are best, as softwood ashes tend to be too resinous and produce lye that will not mix well with the fat used in the soap-making process.

2. To Clean/Wash Silverware

You can use ash paste to clean your silverware and return it to its natural state. It is an easy procedure. All you need to do is mix some ash with water to form a thick paste. The amount you mix depends on how much you need. When you have gotten the paste, rub it over your silverware in a smooth, even paste.

Ensure that you’re wearing kitchen gloves or something to protect your hands. Leave the silverware covered for about 5-10 minutes before cleaning it off with a clean rag. Watch how it shines after that.

3. To Remove Snow From Driveway And Walkway

Rock salt is the common option for melting ice on walkways, driveways, and roads in the winter. However, rock salt can be a problem rather than a solution in the long run.

Plants are harmed – and can be killed – by rock salt because it stops them from absorbing necessary moisture and nutrients. Our pets’ paws are sensitive to salts, which can irritate them.

Is there any good news? Ash from the wood you burned in your fireplace to stay warm on a cold winter evening can be used outside as an environment-friendly alternative to spreading rock salt on slick surfaces.

How does it work? Some of the wood is transformed into salts as it burns and turns to ash. Fortunately, wood ash salts do not pose the same environmental dangers as rock salt. Simply sprinkle some leftover ashes on hard ice. Because of its composition, it helps ice melt faster. It also contributes to the much-needed faction on slick terrain.

4.  Add Them To Compost

Wood ash is high in potassium, a mineral that is essential for plants. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can take full advantage of fireplace ash by sprinkling some in the garden compost pile for extra nourishment. That’s not all the ash can do in your garden. Some compounds in fireplace ash are naturally repellent to snails and slugs, making the ash an excellent tool for pest control in your garden. 

Just keep in mind that wood ashes will increase the alkalinity of the soil, so don’t overdo it – and avoid using ash-enriched compost around acid-loving plants like hydrangeas, potatoes, azaleas, and tulips.

5.  Use Them To Get Rid Of Pests

Fireplace ash makes for good non-chemical pest control. The alkalinity of ash repels these pests, and they’re ways to deal with this. If you have pests roaming around a plant you particularly care for, sprinkle some ash at the base of the plant. 

You can also mix some ash in lime water and spray it around the plants. This will get rid of pests in no time. Be careful not to add too much so you don’t change your soil’s PH and affect plants’ growth.

6. Use Fireplace Ashes to Remove Oil Stains from Concrete

Another excellent way to reuse fireplace ashes is to use them as a stain remover to remove grease stains from concrete.

Cleaning off stubborn oil or gasoline stains on the driveway can be a real pain, but fireplace ashes can make the job easier.

To cover the stain mark, simply toss a handful of ash on top. Allow at least eight to ten hours for the ash to absorb all of the oil. After that, you can remove the stain with a regular cleaning brush or mop.

7. Algae control

If you have a lot of ashes and are seeing an increase in algae in your farm pond, toss some ashes into the water, according to This Old House online. One spoonful of ash per 1,000 gallons of water will add sufficient potassium to the pond to stimulate aquatic plants that compete with algae, thereby slowing algae growth.

SEE: How to Dispose of Smoke Detectors

Some Tips and Precautions

1. Do not pour water or flour into a fireplace in your quest to quench the fire. Sand and salt are able to do that.

2. Ensure that the ash is completely cold before disposing of it.

3. When disposing of ash, always use metal or non-combustible materials for the shovel and bucket.

4. Ashes should not be discarded randomly because they can catch fire.

5. Ash deals with a lot of dust; understand your health conditions and be sure that it won’t affect you

6. Note that safety comes first when dealing with fire and ashes.

SEE: How to Dispose of Lighter Fluid

Bottom Line

Horrific fires have occurred as a result of incorrect ash disposal. If not properly handled, these little embers might lay dormant for several days before suddenly igniting.

Always use non-combustible materials while cleaning out your fireplace or stove. When moving them, always keep them in a secure, out-of-the-way, yet well-ventilated location to avoid catching fire from anything nearby.

If you don’t want to just dispose of the ashes, you may recycle them in various ways.

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