How To Dispose Of Fireplace Ashes (7 Useful Options!)

Dennis Howard
by Dennis Howard

A fire in a fireplace makes for a cozy and warm evening when the outside temperatures turn cold and blustery. After the fire is gone, there is always the ash requiring disposal. What is the best way to dispose of fireplace ashes?

Dispose of ashes from a fireplace by allowing the fire to burn out completely. When the fireplace is cool, scoop the ash into a metal container. Put the metal container outside away from any combustible material. After three to four days, you can safely put the cold ash into your regular trash.

You can dispose of your fireplace ash in the regular trash after letting it cool completely. However, you may be tossing out valuable material. Fireplace ash has several different uses around your home that can save you time and money. Read on to learn more.

Do You Need Chimney or Fireplace Cleaning or Inspection?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

What Do You Do With Wood Ash From Fireplace?

Wood was the main source of heat for cooking and warmth in many homes in the past. Pioneers knew the value of the ash left over from their fires. From making soap to enriching soil, wood ash was not considered a waste product.

Today, fireplaces are no longer the center of the home. Most people who still burn wood in their fireplace consider the ash disposable. Tons of wood ash ends up in the landfill every winter. Each cord of wood burned in a fireplace produces about fifty pounds of ash.

There are environmentally sound ways to use wood ash around your home. Let’s look at a few good examples.

1. Clean Your Drains

Most commercial drain cleaners use lye as the basis of their product. Lye has a unique effect when mixed with grease. The lye binds with the greases that cause most drain clogs and flush it away.

Wood ash is a natural source of lye. Water mixed with wood ash releases natural lye that can clear drains in no time.

Step 1 – Pour one cup of fine cold wood ash into your drain.

Make sure the wood ash is fine and powdery. Don’t use any wood ash that has clumps or been wet.

Step 2 -Pour 1 cup of hot water

Don’t be tempted to use more hot water. More hot water will only dilute the mixture and make it less effective.

Step 3 – Let the mixture sit

Be patient and let the mixture sit in the drain for several hours. After the lye and hot water have had time to work, flush the drain with plenty of water.

Be Careful!

Don’t mix the wood ash and hot water with any other drain cleaning chemicals. You could create a dangerous reaction in your drain. Use proper safety precautions by wearing gloves and eye protection.

2. Silver polish

Whether it is a family heirloom or your passion, silver is both beautiful and expensive. Keeping your silver or silver plate in top condition requires time and a little work. Polishing silver often involves harsh chemical compounds.

You can avoid these sometimes dangerous chemicals by making your silver polish using wood ash. The process is quick and easy.

Step 1 – Mix the Wood Ash

Mix two cups of fine powdery wood ash with four tablespoons of baking soda. Slowly add water in small amounts until you can mix a thick paste.

Step 2 – Clean Your Silver

Use a small sponge or soft cloth to apply the paste to your silver. Rub gently and watch the shine appear as the wood ash mixture removes the tarnish without damaging the surface.

Step 3 – Rinse Well

Rinse your silver well with water to neutralize the mixture on the surface of the silver.

Work Safely

Always wear gloves and eye protection when using any cleaning material.

3. Compost

If you garden and have a compost pile, you may already be aware of wood ash’s value. Wood ash from your fireplace or wood stove is rich in potassium. Potassium is a major factor in promoting plant health.

You can give your compost a power boost easily. Add 1 cup of wood ash for every one and one-half cubic feet of compost material. The added potassium from the wood ash will supercharge your compost

4. Wood Ash Around the Garden

Wood ash has other uses in the garden, of which many experienced gardeners are not aware.

Slug and Pest Repellant

Wood ash is a natural pest repellant. Adding a little wood ash around your landscape can help reduce the damage from insects. If slugs are a problem in your garden, a fine layer of wood ash on top of your soil will discourage slugs and snails.

Is fireplace ash good for the garden?

If you are growing plants that prefer soil with a higher pH, a dose of wood ash can make them happy. Wood ash is a natural way to raise the pH of soils without adding chemicals or man-made fertilizers.

Grow Great Tomatoes

Growing tomatoes can frustrate even the most experienced vegetable gardener. One secret that many successful tomato gardeners rely on is wood ash. The natural mineral content of wood ash is almost perfect for tomatoes.

Wood ash contains phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium. These three nutrients are the basis for most commercial tomato fertilizers. Wood ash also raises the pH of the soil. The natural pH of the wood ash encourages tomatoes that prefer a slightly alkaline soil. Using wood ash to give your tomatoes a boost is easy.

Step 1 – Choose your Wood Ash Carefully. Use only fresh wood ash that has been allowed to cool for several days. The best wood ash is powdery and fine. To keep your wood ash in top condition, store it in a metal container and keep it very dry.

Step 2 – Prepare your Planting Bed. When you plant your tomatoes, put one-quarter cup of fresh wood ash into the hole. Adding a bit of worm castings and some powdered molasses with the ash will jump-start your tomato plants.

Step 3 – Give your Tomatoes a Mid-Season Boost. Mid-season sprinkle a quarter cup of clean, dry wood ash around your tomato plants. Use a plastic garden fork or trowel to work the ash into the soil gently.

Remember the Soil pH

Adding wood ash to your soil will raise the pH level. Be careful adding wood ash near acid-loving plants that prefer a lower pH level in the soil.

5. Is Your Pond Turning Green – Add a Little Wood Ash

If your landscape has a garden pond, you have probably been plagued at times with algae. A green pond is an ugly thing and can be a struggle to clean and control. A bit of clean, fresh wood ash can help control algae growth.

Algae is the result of fish, warm water, and sunlight. Many pond owners turn to harsh and dangerous chemicals to try and control algae. If your pond contains fish, the chemical solutions can be tricky.

An alternate solution is to ass about one tablespoon of wood ash to every 1,000 gallons of pond water. Not only will this help control the algae, but the potassium and other minerals will encourage your aquatic plants to bloom.

6. Keep the Salts off The Sidewalk

Where ice is a seasonal problem, the traditional solution is to apply rock salt to melt the ice. However, over time the accumulation of salt in the landscape can damage your plants. Wood ash doesn’t have this residual effect in the soil.

Burning wood to ash turns many of the compounds in the wood into natural salts. These natural salts work as well as rock salt to melt ice and don’t leave toxic residues in the soil. In fact, many of these natural salts are mineral compounds that your plants will use as nutrients.

Do You Need Chimney or Fireplace Cleaning or Inspection?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

7. Disposing of your Fireplace Ash

You can dispose of your fireplace ash by tossing it in the garbage once it is cool and safe. However, that wood ash you are putting in the trash bin may have more value than you think. Before you toss that next load of ash, think about some of our ideas for using that ash.

Dennis Howard
Dennis Howard

Dennis is a retired firefighter with an extensive background in construction, home improvement, and remodeling. He worked in the trades part-time while serving as an active firefighter. On his retirement, he started a remodeling and home repair business, which he ran for several years.

More by Dennis Howard