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  1. Geoff

    Geoff New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Messages:
    46
    Loc:
    NH
    I feel like I’m asking a dumb question, but there it goes:

    I don’t quote have a good grasp on using ash drawers.
    I’ve always used stoves without ash drawers. Last fall I was house sitting and the home had two wood burners with ash drawers (VC Duchwest XL, and some large VC insert). Normally on a stove without an ash drawer I shovel some ash out once in a while when it gets full and leave a good layer on the bottom. When I was house sitting I mostly burned the stove but never 24 hrs/day (only evenings and overnight). I would empty the ash drawer every evening before building a new fire because if I didn’t then ash would overflow and spill into the cavity where the ash drawer sits when I pulled out the drawer. I could have let the ash build up but I figured it would make a big mess when I went to clean it out because I wouldn’t be able to get the drawer back in without shoveling the ash out of the drawer’s cavity. So I was left without any ash in the stove. I didn’t like the feature of the ash drawer because I felt that it made it difficult to keep some hot coals in the stove as they weren’t insulated by any ash. One nice side effect to the ash drawer was that the door to it could be opened in the morning to get the few remaining coals piping hot again.

    How does everyone else use their ash drawers?

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  2. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
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    3,654
    Loc:
    Boulder County
    I dont, my ash door has never been opened. Its probably cemented in by now. Most new stove come with them, so you have the option of using them or not.
  3. bruce

    bruce Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    191
    Loc:
    long pond pa
    i love it, empty it every 5-7 days of 24 7 burning, with a top loader i never open the front glass door
  4. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    I may actually have the big VC insert you used.

    I leave about 1.5 inches of ash on my grate at all times. I can work the ashes off the top of the pile and to the front and then down through the grate slits there using a short shovel. When I've gotten down to my 1.5 inch layer, i kind of rake some ash from the top of the remaining layer forward and onto the grate slits in the front to mostly cover them up. Then I empty the tray.

    I love the ash tray feature. Hard to imagine having to stir up all that ash scooping and dumping into a bucket.

    An added benefit of my ash drawer is that I can put a small fire lighter (modified tiki torch) down in there and avoid using much kindling to get a new fire going. I stand a trianglular shaped split at the rear, put a single 2 inch piece of cedar kindling in front of it, leaving about a quarter inch of space between them, then another triangular split in front of that. I might stack some other wood taller on each side of this opening but am careful not to obstruct the flame. This is my modified top down starting method. Then I light the tiki trorch and let the flame come up through a single grate slit that I previously cleared by pushing the ash that covered that slit down through the grate and into the pan when cleaning earier.

    Makes starting a new fire a breeze using about 1/2 ounce of lamp oil. The fire lights both sides of those two triangular splits and I stack small to medium sized pieces up higher, but stilll allow the flame to be unobstructed from the tiki torch rig. Takes about 5 - 10 minutes depending to get things really going. And absolutely zero smoke is created. And no big newspaper ashes, either. It even helps reverse a negative draft, but I must sometimes still open a window nearby if I didn't burn the previous day and the chimney is really cold. I just love the ash pan and my little tiki lighter.
  5. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2006
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    3,654
    Loc:
    Boulder County
    My stove burns hotter with a good ash bed. Not only does it help restart the fire, it makes the fire burn more intense.
  6. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    If you've got a cast iron (or maybe even steel) grate, it's a good idea to keep some ashes between the blasting heat and the metal. It also discourages air circulating up through the coals that can get things even hotter. I've seen cast iron and steel grates that looked like Salvador Dali paintings.
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
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    29,150
    Loc:
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    Why is it when you talk about starting a fire I always start seeing images of a Japanese Tea Ritual?
  8. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
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    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Must be my Ninja background betraying me...
  9. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Ah so!
  10. Geoff

    Geoff New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2005
    Messages:
    46
    Loc:
    NH
    Well... it is nice to be able to rake some coals forward when I get home after 11 hours away, throw a few small splits on, leave the door opened a crack, and have a good fire going in a few minutes. I don't get good draft when its above about 20° unless I have some coals in the stove left over from an all-day or overnight burn, and then it can still be hard to re-start if its "too warm" outside. I've tried pre-heating the chimney by lighting a few pieces of paper that I've stuffed above the baffle, but that only increases draft for a little while. If its too warm to get a fire going easily (over 20°F), it takes about 3 hours to get a good enough bed of coals going (off of kindling and 1" to 2" splits) to be able to throw some larger splits on and start a real fire. (which answers the question about the burning kindling, non burning kindling, match question.) Needless to say, with the warm weather, I've grown a little tired of starting fires this winter. What kind of pyro am I!?

    Also, as Mt.StoveGuy mentioned, my stove also burns much better and releases more heat with a good bed of ashes.
  11. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2005
    Messages:
    917
    Loc:
    Deltaville,VA
    After living with two regencies without ash drawers for 12 years, I will never go back to a stove without one.

    Sifting through the ash, looking for glowing chunks, and spilling ash out of the front of the stove at 5am sucked. Nevermind all of the dust.

    With my Woodstock, disposing of ashes could not be easier with the nice ash pan setup they have.
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