How often do you clean out your stove ashes?

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How often do you empty your stove ashes?


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We always had a wood stove growing up, and it seems like we only cleaned the ashes out a few times a season. We always burned Tamarack (lived in Oregon growing up), and of course it wasn't an EPA approved stove.

I burn with the Pleasant Hearth 1800 sq foot model, and it seems like I accumulate more ashes then I remember when I was younger. I'm burning oak and hickory (in North Carolina now), seasoned 1 1/2 years under a covered barn.

If I don't take the ashes out once a week they really start to build up in the stove.

What about your stove? How often do you remove the ashes? What works best for you?

~jeremy
 

jotul8e2

Minister of Fire
Feb 2, 2008
585
Ozarks
Whoa whoa WHOA!!! Once or twice a season? Once a month? What are you guys burning? I burn three or so cords of oak/hickory a year, which is not a particularly large amount. Do you realize how much ash that is? Maybe 90 gallons (loose). And that is supposed to remain in the stove for the SEASON!!!????

I can't vote because my Jotul Oslo will fill its pan after three to four days of 24/7 burning. And it does not like ashes to build up in the firebox. My Dutchwest Medium cat stove has is smaller and with a smaller ashpan that fills at about the same rate. It doesn't care if ashes build up, however, so I suppose I could empty it less often, but it would be a lot more work to shovel,rake, and shake the ashes out of the firebox.
 

ansehnlich1

Retired Hearth.com Member
Dec 5, 2006
1,601
Adams County, PA
I don't get ash, run 5, maybe 6 cord through the Oslo each year and no ash, hmmmmmm.

I empty my ash pan daily, for real.
 

bobforsaken

Member
Oct 2, 2009
180
Maine
I empty mine every day or two. Rarely do I go more than two days... Of course.. i'm buring a lot of Poplar right now
 

JeffT

Member
Jan 27, 2009
156
Dayton Ohio
Every 3 to 5 days depending on what wood comes off the stack.
 

madrone

Minister of Fire
Oct 3, 2008
1,290
Just South of Portland, OR
Depends on what I'm burning and how often. Doug Fir leaves almost no ashes, so once a month is enough this time of year. A couple of years ago I had a lot of Cottonwood, so more like once a week.
 
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nate379

Guest
When it's full, round once a month or so.

The stove my folks heat their place with, empty it 2-3 times over the winter.
 

colebrookman

Minister of Fire
Feb 7, 2008
776
Middlefield, Ma
ansehnlich1 said:
I don't get ash, run 5, maybe 6 cord through the Oslo each year and no ash, hmmmmmm.

I empty my ash pan daily, for real.
+1 here
 

bboulier

Minister of Fire
Feb 9, 2010
510
NE Virginia
Right now, I work every day, so I burn only on weekends when my son and daughter-in-law come by to share the fire with my wife and me. And, not so much wood stored for this year. Next year is going to be much better! I partially clean up ashes after every fire. I leave some, but I really don't understand the theory about leaving ashes. My view is that ashes might inhibit the ability of fire brick to store heat by insulating the brick from absorbing heat? I wish an engineer or a company representative would supply some hard data on this issue.
 
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Mcbride

New Member
Nov 24, 2010
202
Mcbride BC Canada
every 2 weeks is probably average. More when its really cold out, less in spring & fall.
 
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nate379

Guest
Seems to me that most of you are loosing lot of your heat by shoveling out the ashes. I cleaned my stove a few days ago. I didn't put wood in it a full 24hrs prior and still when I shoveled out the ashes they were hot enough that I could have tossed wood in the stove and started a fire without trouble.
How are you separating the ash from the glowing hot coals?
 

Sierra Guy

New Member
Sep 9, 2010
38
Northern California
We have a close to a full pan of ash after burning (mostly Oak with some Pine) all day. We can sometimes go two days if we don't sweep it down the grate but wouldn't want to try it any longer.
 
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nate379

Guest
Used to have a stove with a grate and we just leave the ash holder on the bottom fill full and then used it like a normal stove. When we cleaned the stove, just cleaned the top. Found it worked better that way.
My Blaze King has a box in the bottom the ash could go, but you have to pull a plate in the firebox. It's pretty much pointless.
 

pen

There are some who call me...mod.
Staff member
Aug 2, 2007
7,968
N.E. Penna
NATE379 said:
Used to have a stove with a grate and we just leave the ash holder on the bottom fill full and then used it like a normal stove. When we cleaned the stove, just cleaned the top. Found it worked better that way.
My Blaze King has a box in the bottom the ash could go, but you have to pull a plate in the firebox. It's pretty much pointless.

+1 Agreed! Just remove it from the stove as necessary. I've yet to use the "ash plug" (gotta be careful how you say that) on mine yet.

pen
 
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modo

New Member
Nov 28, 2010
62
midwest
I clean out every other day. Remove the ash and leave the coles.
 

clr8ter

Feeling the Heat
Oct 4, 2010
261
Southern NH
There was another thread here recently, and almost everyone agreed that it is best to leave ashes in your stove. At least a 1" deep bed on the bottom. I asked what about the stoves, (like mine, an Oslo), that have a grate and a pan. Some people said use it, some said forget about it for the season. It occured to me this morning that if I do it often enough before the ashes in the pan get to the bottom of the grate, that I can just remove the pan, dump the ashes, and put the pan back with no mess, and without disturbing the ashes in the stove.

Today it's raining, so I can throw them on the lawn. I need an ash bucket.......
 

Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,811
Michigan
The poll is pointless as there are not enough choices.


I also find it hard to believe that folks empty their ashes daily!!!!! Even every other day. That seems to go against the grain of wood burning. Leave a good ash bed in the stove and things will go much better.

Nate asked what folks are using to separate coals and ash. We simply use a poker and it is easy to do; but then, we never clean out all the ashes either. That should not be done.
 

jotul8e2

Minister of Fire
Feb 2, 2008
585
Ozarks
re: ash bed

It depends upon the stove. As I noted above, I have a Jotul Oslo and a Dutchwest cat. The Oslo does indeed burn better with a bed of ash in the pan - but if allowed to accumulate in the firebox it chokes out. Jotul makes a big deal of their "Airwash" system that keeps the glass clean. It does indeed do this, but it appears to me that it works by setting up a circulation pattern across the top toward the front, down the glass, and then through the grate. All I know for sure is that a deep bed of ash, or coals for that matter, is a good way to have a long lasting, 250 degree fire.

My Dutchwest, on the other hand, takes its air through the side door and I don't think it cares if there are no ashes, ashes in the pan, or in the firebox. I suppose I could leave them until there is no more room for wood. But it is easier all around if I just empty the pan when it gets full.

In neither stove do I carry out any significant amount of coals. The grates on both do an excellent job of keeping the coals in the firebox and dropping the ash through.

I note that many of you who have long ash cleaning intervals have inserts which have no ash pan. Clearly they are designed to operate with an accumulation of ash.
 
Hm. Sorry about the choices. Maybe I'm just missing it, but I don't think I can edit the poll once posted.

I had no idea some people empty out their ashes daily.

I know wood type matters. Perhaps tamarack had very little ash. I know dad used to burn 4 cords a year in that stove, but I also remember cleaning the stove out as something of an "event". i.e., it didn't happen often...
 

ControlFreak

Feeling the Heat
Jan 15, 2008
492
Holden, MA
NATE379 said:
Seems to me that most of you are loosing lot of your heat by shoveling out the ashes. I cleaned my stove a few days ago. I didn't put wood in it a full 24hrs prior and still when I shoveled out the ashes they were hot enough that I could have tossed wood in the stove and started a fire without trouble.
How are you separating the ash from the glowing hot coals?

Get one of those cheap sheet metal shovels. Drill a network of 1/2" holes in it. Instant ash separater. My stove has a flat bottom (no ashpan hole), so I just take the shovel and slide it forward/back along the bottom. Ashes end up in the front, coals end up at the back. Then just shovel out the ash in the front.

Burning 24/7, I do this every morning so the coals are not hindered by the ash, and I also don't get the crusty formations of ash.
 

velvetfoot

Minister of Fire
Dec 5, 2005
10,178
Sand Lake, NY
I might have been emptying out the ashes on my little insert not often enough.
I had a coal roll out onto the run recently (another thread) and I also think I can't put as much wood in there when the ash level is high.
 
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nate379

Guest
The last 2 times I cleaned the stove I just shut it down for a day or two and kicked on the boiler to heat the house. When I was growing up that is what we would do at my folks as well. Most often would clean the chimney and stove all at the same time. Usually 2-3 times over the course of winter.

Yes the ashes are still pretty warm even then, but it's much safer than trying to shovel out red hot ash/coals.

I cleaned my stove earlier this week ago and the first 2-3 loads didn't last as long as they do once I have a nice thick ash bed built up in the stove. Also was harder to get the next load going since I didn't have much heat/coals to worth with. Once I get a decent ash bed I have no problem keeping the stove going 24/7 by loading it about once every 12hrs.

Most days I just have enough time to throw wood in the stove and get it going. If I had to play around with ashes, lighting a fresh fire, etc I wouldn't even bother heating with wood.
 

madrone

Minister of Fire
Oct 3, 2008
1,290
Just South of Portland, OR
I use a small ash shovel as my only tool. Rakes coals, shovels ash, moves logs. No need to modify it. Push the coals to one side by lightly raking them with the edge of the shovel. Shovel out about 3/4 of the ash, and pull the coals back up front. No need for perfection. In my stove I find a layer of ash slows down the burn and keeps the coals hot longer. The ash can just pile up in there without becoming an issue until it's spilling out the door. Cleaning daily sounds like a PITA.
 
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