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How often should I take the ashes of my stove?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Pascale, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. Pascale

    Pascale New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2012
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    39
    Hi,
    Everytime I light up a fire, I ask myself whether or not it's a good thing to have ashes in your stove.
    Maybe the wood burns better with a lot of ashes maybe it burns better without almost any ash left in the stove, I don't know.

    Can you help?

    Thanks
    Pascale

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  2. Boom Stick

    Boom Stick Feeling the Heat

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    If I am burning full time I will clean out every 3rd day. I had this question when I first started burning last year and you learn pretty quickly. You won't be able to put a full load in when ashes start to accumulate. Some ashes are good but then too much start to be counter productive to a good burn. each stove is different. Also if you are burning good seasoned hardwood vs say poplar....you'll clean out less. some woods produce more ashes. I am sure more experienced folks can better answer your question.
  3. Blue Vomit

    Blue Vomit Minister of Fire

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    Ashes help to insulate the firebox, a good thing.
    I usually try to keep about an inch or two in the stove.
    An ash bed helps hold the coals at the end of a long burn, saving kindling and super cedars.
    ScotO likes this.
  4. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    I do mine every time I fill the wood box. 1/3 of a cord roughly.
    Every 7 to 10 days or so.
    Try to do it on a warmer day so I can burn down the coals & empty a cooler stove.
    ScotO likes this.
  5. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I don't really keep track, whenever it gets full where I can't put much wood in. Probably every 1/2 cord or so of wood burned... so I'd guess roughly once a month. Usually close to filing a 5 gal pail.

    Every stove I'd used ran better with a good bed of ash to hold the heat and coals in. The stove my folks ran for nearly 30 years (my Dad built it) had a grate where the ash would fall to the bottom. We found it didn't work well to have no ash so just ended up letting the bottom fill and shoveled it out of the firebox. That was a big stove though, a cleanout would yield 15+ gals of ash.

    Really all depends on how the stove is built. Some stoves like the Blaze King have a deep "belly" where it takes 5-6 inches of ash to where it would start coming out of the door. Others can only hold an inch or two.
  6. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    When I'm burning 24-7 I end up dumping my ash pan about every 3-4 days . . . usually a mid-week dumping and then one on the weekend. I like to have about an inch or two of ash in the stove . . . helps insulate the coals.
  7. Stegman

    Stegman Feeling the Heat

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    I'm still relatively new to burning [third season], and I clean out the ashes daily before staring a fire, leaving the coals in place. Just seems logical to me, but I'm ready to be convinced otherwise. I have a Jotul Castine, which has a small firebox, so it makes sense to me to clean it out before starting my fire each day. Plus it seems less messy.
  8. swagler85

    swagler85 Minister of Fire

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    Warmer day? Is that like -20 in your neck of the woods?
    Bacffin and ScotO like this.
  9. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    A lot of this decision relies on what stove you have and what kind of wood you are burning. In the Napoleon 1900P that I have, when I'm burning maple, poplar, ash or cherry, I almost HAVE to empty the ashes once every 5 to 7 days. But in the coldest months when I'm running a lot of oak and locust through the stove I can last upwards of two weeks without a cleanout! I do like BV does and leave around an inch or so of ah in the firebox as an insulator for both the stove AND for the hot coals......
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  10. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I have been running all white oak and mulberry. Maybe once a month the way my stove is set-up.
    ScotO likes this.
  11. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    What kind of stove do you have? That may determine how often you should clean the ashes. Also the kind of wood has a lot to do with how much ashes the stove generates. The one thing i will say is. BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE ASHES AND HOW YOU DISPOSE OF THEM. MAKE SURE YOU DO IT PROPERLY AND THAT NOTHING IS STILL LIT. VERY DANGEROUS.
    ScotO and Backwoods Savage like this.
  12. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    So in summary, "It depends". Lol
    Stay within a few rules of thumb & you'll eventually figure out what works best for your stove & preference. Clean them out if:
    You can't fit enough wood in for a long, hot burn.
    Embers are threatening to spill out when you open the door.
    You've been away overnight & the stove is nice & cold.
    It's warm today and tomorrow is supposed to be cold.
    It's the weekend and you actually have a few minutes to do it.

    For me it ussually works-out to be every 4-8 days depending how much & what type of wood I'm burning.

    Definitely do a search about how to safely store & dispose of ashes. Plenty of fire start from stored or discarded ashes.
  13. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    Depends a lot on the wood. When I burn hedge, it leaves very little ash. When I burn elm it leaves a lot.

    I usually clean it out every 3-4 days....but only remove about half of the ashes so I'm not shoveling out hot ashes...
  14. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    LOL :)
    Days like today, mid +20s & snowing ;)
    Now 29°f, snow, calm

    But like said, the amount of wood has a big part in the volume of ashes. Same volumes of birch makes more ash than spruce.
    Birch BTU is quite a bit higher than spruce . Maybe it's BTUs burned :)
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Pascale, that is a good question and most new wood burners wonder the same thing. As you gain experience you will just do it as needed. Most stoves like a couple inches of ash in the bottom and the fire will also like this. On our stove we don't empty very often but then, we don't burn a lot of wood compared to others. I think the ashes have been dumped twice so far this season. In the peak of the winter when we are burning hot day and night we may have to empty every 4th or 5th day. Most times in December through February it is a weekly thing though. Just don't take all the ashes out and don't let them get too high so that you can't load enough wood for an overnight burn.
    ScotO likes this.
  16. Pascale

    Pascale New Member

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    Excellent, that's what I needed to know. I was guessing that the ashes could help insulate the firebox but now that you agreed on this, I'm going to leave an inch at the bottom of the firebox.

    Thanks everybody!
    ScotO and Backwoods Savage like this.
  17. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I cleaned yesterday, was in the low 20s outside. Heat wave!
  18. stephiedoll

    stephiedoll Burning Hunk

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    Every few days, don't keep track. Only took a few shovels full this morning. Just play it by ear. Quad 3100 step top mixed wood including elm, locust, oak, hard and soft maple.
  19. ColdNH

    ColdNH Minister of Fire

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    I find cleaning out the ashes usually makes a mess and is kind of a pita, any dust that gets air born lands on every sq. inch of space in your house, so you have to be extra careful, at this point it’s easier to be extra careful with cold ashes, it’s also easier to be extra careful unloaded the ashes via the front door of the Oslo, and every time the front door of the Oslo is open it makes an epic mess on the ash lip and on the floor.

    So the whole ash cleanout process takes a while, at this time I clean the glass, vacuum the hearth (another reason I like a cold stove (so I don’t accidently suck up hot ashes and burn the house down) I then dump all the ashes and vacuum cleaner bin in my outdoor fire pit.

    I would say I clean out every 2 weeks +/- or when the firebox starts to get excessively full. it’s one of the few things I hate about the wood burning process. Granted its more of a pita because of the poor design of the front door of the Oslo.
  20. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    This BK is terrible for ash removal. It never cools down so I need to empty ashes while they're hot and since the stove sends so little heat up the flue, the ash dust is not sucked into the stove at all. It's a big freaking mess all over the stove and hearth nomatter how softly I try to shovel them out. The ash pan uses the lousy plug system and a tiny ash pan so that's not much help. One good thing about the BK is that it works just great with no ashes. There is no penalty for sucking them all out.
  21. Boog

    Boog Minister of Fire

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    As said by some above, its really more a technical question based on stove design. My Charmaster furnace should have a minimal small amount of ashes protecting the bottom of the stove where the ash removal drawer is located. Ashes can accumulate up to 7-8 inches deep or so to where they would be level with the bottom of the door, or at the top of the firebricks on the sides. With a firebrick lined funace like this, you should not have the hottest bed of coals above your firebrick protection. So my working range is about 1/2" to 8 inches deep. When I'm getting near full I empty them via the large ash drawer. I can safely do that with a modest fire still going.
  22. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I empty mine whenever the stove cools off, and when I remove ash I don't leave any ash in the stove. This might mean I remove ash two days in a row (there isn't much ash but I clean anyway) or it might mean three or four days or more. I have to clean the ash every four days or so, or else I start to lose volume in the firebox and can't load as much as I'd like. I don't think my stove works better with ash in it than without.

    I never know when I'll be burning non-stop and it will be inconvenient to clean out the ash, so I prefer to clean out the ash any time it is convenient, just in case. My stove supplies only part of the heat for my house. This means I can always use all the heat I can get and can burn full time provided I am home often enough to reload. With kids activities, work, etc. I can't always predict if I'll be home enough to keep the fire going non-stop, but I like to be prepared just in case.
  23. dorkweed

    dorkweed Guest


    i've been burning since mid Sept. and have cleaned the ash out of my 13NC twice.......................not because I had to, but because I wanted to......................just to learn the stove!!!!! She definitely burns better and more consistently with a layer of ash on the "floor" of the stove.

    In hindsight now, I could've gotten away with not cleaning the ash out at all!!!! I've been burning mostly ash and box elder. Don't get long burn times with that wood, but my natural gas furnace hasn't had to turn-on yet!!!

    If you take your coal rake or ash rake, and mix up the ash in the bottom of the stove, it "compresses" and "compacts"!!! Enough for you to go much longer on "clean-outs"!!!

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