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Proper ash handling

Post in 'The Gear' started by brian89gp, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. brian89gp

    brian89gp Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2008
    Messages:
    464
    Loc:
    Kansas City
    What is the proper process to handle ashes? Eg, how long to be certain the coals go out, where to put them, etc? Can a metal ash can with live coals flare up if it is not sitting on a combustible surface and it doesn't get knocked over?

    I live on a small lot and don't have very much room. I was considering getting a 55 gallon drum with a lid and locking band to put outside to dump the ashes in and deal with in spring. Good plan?

    I apologize if these are simple questions, I just want to be sure I am doing it right.

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  2. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    1,653
    Loc:
    NW Indiana
    A metal container with lid on non-combustible surface and not sitting next to your house. Coals can often stay live for many days. I leave mine in a metal pail 'till I need the room for fresh ashes (that is about 2 weeks for me) then they go in a plastic bucket with lid still outside until I spread them or transfer to the shed. The metal drum with lid would work well. Depending how much you burn it could get full by spring. I'd guess I make about 3-4 gals of ash per week.
  3. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    I like the drum/lid plan. I have a reg metal ash can that stays in the garage. I empty the pan from the stove into that and empty the can once it's full but only after it has set for 48 hrs or more.

    I have never seen or heard of an ash can "flare up" under the conditions that you describe. Plenty of flare-ups in the Hearth.com Ash Can however. ;lol
  4. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,450
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    I would guess that there is no set time to be safe . . . well maybe if several weeks or months have gone by since there are a lot of factors in determining how long a coal can remain hot . . . the amount of insulation, oxygen, etc. . . . but in general if you wait a week or so I would guess most coals should be dead.

    I've never heard of a fire flaring up in a metal ash can . . . but they can get hot (Brother Bart . . . please cue up the picture of the ash pan melted into the snow!) . . . and folks have made the mistake of thinking there were no coals in the ashes that they disposed into the plastic bucket, bag, cardboard box, etc. and then placed in the garage, on the deck, on the porch, etc. only to find a fire started a few hours or days later.

    I can tell you what I do that has worked well for me. Every 3-4 days I dump the ash pan into a covered metal ash pail outside on green grass, a cement pad or snow. After three or four dumpings I take the ashes and dump them in a pile . . . usually before I dump a "fresh" load of ash into the pail and after the pail has been sitting outside for at least 3-4 days.

    In the Winter my preferred method of disposal is to spread the ash on my gravel driveway . . . it helps melt the snow and ice and provides traction . . . and by late summer all traces are pretty much gone . . . or at least ground into the gravel.

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