As a wood burner you know well that burning wood leaves behind ashes. The type of wood that you burn is directly related to the amounts of wood ash that you will be left with, but there will always be ashes remaining with a wood fire.
There has been a question I have heard multiple times regarding ash removal… Is it a good idea to remove wood ash from the fireplace or wood stove every time you build a fire?
To Remove or Not to Remove Wood Ash
It is not a good idea to remove the wood ash from the fireplace or wood stove every time you build a fire. You should actually maintain a 1-inch layer of ash on the floor of the firebox during the regular heating season. Leaving this layer of wood ash will make it easier to build and maintain a fire.
Hot coals tend to nestle into the ash and glow, adding more heat to the fuel and reflecting the heat back into the fire. Another benefit of that small layer of wood ash; it will help to protect the floor of the firebox.
If you have a fireplace, you want to make sure that you are not letting your wood ash become deep enough to come in contact with the fireplace grate. Not only will this prohibit airflow to you fire it can also cause the grate to burn out prematurely from the exposure to the excessive heat.
If you have a wood stove, large amounts of wood ash left in the fire box will reduce the amount of wood that can be added to the fire box. In either case, if the ashes are cleaned out, you will find that it is often more difficult to start a fire. This is because you first have to heat up all of the brick in the firebox before the fire can really take off.
A good tool to help constant wood burners will be an ash container with a lid and an ash separator. The ash separators will allow you to sift out the hot coals from the fine ash and remove the fine ash. This is a much safer way to remove ashes. You will have less hot coals to worry about in your ash container.
The ash container comes into play when you remove the fine ash from the fireplace or wood stove. I use mine to transport the ashes to my larger metal container that I store them in during the burning season.
I recommend an ash container with a lid because it is much safer and helps keep the dust down. The lid can also be important if you set your ashes outside winter breeze comes along. If this happens the coals can become active again. That breeze could actually disperse the active coals onto nearby structures and start a fire. You should always treat removed ashes with a great deal of respect, and do not leave them unattended for long.
When is appropriate to remove wood ash completely from the fire box? At the end of the burning season. You do not want to leave your fireplace or wood stove full of ashes because the wood ash actually can draw in moisture and potentially rust metal components in your fireplace or woods stove.
I hope that you have found this information helpful.