The Cozy Flame's Blog

How to Use Wood Ashes in the Garden

Now that winter is over, and we’re on our way to summer. You need to have your fireplace cleaned and closed out for the season, and move your extra firewood outside. You also should clean the fireplace of ashes and debris for the summer—but, what do you do with all the ashes?

Properly Removing and Storing Ashes

You should use a long-handled shovel to remove ashes from the fireplace whether it is hot or not. It’s best to keep ashes from getting into your hair, clothes, and skin. Many professionals recommend wearing a mask when removing ashes or working with ashes for household projects. We want our customers to keep the fireplace clean, maintain it properly, and put the ashes to good use, but doing it safely! Your ash bin should be kept away from your home to prevent accidental fire during burn season. A metal container with a lid is the best, and it will also keep your ashes dry so that you can put them to use!

Ashes in the Garden

Did you know you can use your ashes in landscaping? Whether it’s a vegetable garden, herb garden, flower garden, or your grass, ashes deter certain insects and tiny critters from damaging your plants. Ashes also become a nuisance and change the pH level in your soil. Green thumbs swear that ashes in the soil beneath tomato plants produce plumper, juicier tomatoes. Ashes contain calcium, potassium, and many minerals that promote plant health. Adding them to your soil will change the soil rapidly, so you want to add it sparingly. You also should test your soil before attempting to change it. You can usually find free soil testing through a local university.

Do not use ashes around acid-loving plants such as blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, and holly. You can add up to 20 pounds of ashes to soil with a pH level of 6 to 6.5, and it is easy to do. Choose a day that isn’t windy, and mix the ashes into the soil. Do not leave ashes on top of already-growing plants. A little rinse with a water sprinkler should do the trick.

You can use ashes around the perimeter of your garden if you don’t want to mix it into the soil, and this will actually repel slugs. This will only work until it is rinsed away by rain or sprinkler water.

Other Ways to Use Ash

Many homeowners use ashes to clean around the house. Mixing ashes with a little bit of water can shine silver, clean glass, and lift gummy grease from stovetops. It’s best to use gloves when working with ashes to avoid burns and skin irritation. You can also sprinkle ashes onto oil spills in the garage and sweep it up as if it were never there. Dusting a little into your dog’s fur will neutralize nasty odors, and it also helps to deter ticks and mites.

Do you have an ash problem? Perhaps an ash dump that hasn’t been emptied in some time? Maybe you are tired of ashes altogether! The Cozy Flame can help, whether arranging a cleaning or exchanging your wood fireplace for gas. Call a Comfort Consultant at 203-283-4459 today!

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Disposing of Wood Ashes

This is the season for more than holidays and snuggling by the  fire…this is also the season for house fires. Many fires are caused by ashes that are not properly cooled or disposed of. In this post, we will review ways to deal safely with ash. Always remember, we install Thermo-Rite glass doors to help keep embers in your fire.

HOW DO I SAFELY DISPOSE OF FIREPLACE ASHES?

Make sure you are using a metal bucket with a tightly-fitted lid to dispose of ashes.

Make sure you are using a metal bucket with a tightly-fitted lid to dispose of ashes.

Improper ash removal from fireplaces and wood burning stoves cause thousands of fires every year. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, 9870 house fires were caused yearly (1994-1998 statistics) due to improperly discarded ashes.

Hot coals, hidden in a pile of ashes and thus well insulated, can stay hot for up to 4 days.

Never empty ashes into a paper or plastic bag, cardboard box, or other similar container. The only suitable means for ash storage is a metal container with a tight fitting lid; this helps keep air from blowing through and disturbing ashes which can leave hot coals exposed for re-ignition. Many home fires begin from improperly stored ashes while the home’s occupants are asleep, as the evening breeze intensifies.

USING A METAL BUCKET

For optimum safety, wet the wood ashes prior to attaching the metal lid to the pail. DO NOT store your metal ash container on your deck, in your garage, or in any location that may allow heat to transfer from those hot coals to nearby flammable items. Untold wooden decks catch fire every year due to this simple oversight.

FINAL DISPOSAL

Wood ash, once completely cooled, can safely be disposed of in your garden because natural firewood ash makes a great soil additive that your plants will enjoy. Just make sure you have removed any mulching materials such as dried leaves and other dried plants first, so there’s nothing to catch fire in your garden. Spray the dispersed ashes with water as an added safety precaution. Do not add ashes to your soil if you burn coal, or ashes from burned wood that was painted, stained or treated with any chemicals as these chemicals may be harmful to your soil and plants.

Don’t forget: Can Your Ashes!

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