As the “shovel the ashes out of the fireplace” season is upon us, here are some notes about ashes:
First – The “Don’ts” – (Use what might seem to be common sense):
Ashes can remain hot enough to light something on fire for as long as 6 days. 6 days – More under certain conditions. Six days!
- So, Don’t put them in a cardboard box and set it on the back porch – a friend of mine burned down a historic home by doing this, and he is not alone in the mistake. Don’t use a paper bag either – Duh!? But, it happens.
- Do use a metal bucket with a tight lid and don’t set the bucket with a hot bottom on your wood deck or porch.
- Don’t dump them on the dry grass growing near your home. I had a friend severely burn his hand while trying to put out the wildfire he started by dumping “cold” ashes on a dry hillside. Don’t dump them in the plastic garbage or green container either. You’ll get charged for it when it melts.
- If you don’t have much space between the front of your stove and the carpet – put a hearth rug down, (they are fire retardant), under your bucket, while you shovel.
- Last: don’t vacuum the spilled ash up. Sweep it on to a metal dust pan and put it in the ash bucket. Mop the remaining dust up with a damp cloth.
- The colder the ashes the less the fly ash will float all over your home while you shovel. If they are mostly cold you can spray a little water on them to keep the floating down. If you spray the water on them while they’re too hot they will float all over.
Here is the good news. Ashes are really useful –
In the garden:
- Ash adds potash and calcium carbonate to your compost.
- Spread around plants to deter snails.
- Add a half cup to the holes when planting tomatoes.
- Use around onions, leeks and garlic in the garden.
- Use as an alternative to lime to raise the Ph of soil.
In the home:
- Add to a damp rag or paper towel to clean stove or fireplace glass doors.
- Soak ashes in water to make lye for making soap.
- Make an ash paste to clean metal or to remove labels from glass jars.
- Use as a dust bath for chickens, it kills lice and mites.
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