To use, or not to use... The ash pan.

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FionaD

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2013
363
Scotland
This has come up for me before and I abandoned it... but I'm wondering again whether I should stop using use my ash pan to clear out the ash and let it fill up and forget about it.

If my stove had no grate but a wee hole, like some stoves do, into which to rake ash I think I would use it, but with a grate you can't sift ash and save coals; whenever I empty the ash out of the pan, it 'grates' on me to see the amount of good coals that fall through the grate as well... What a waste!

Even though the area below the grate does seem to be airtight, I also can't help but wonder if filling that area will improve burn times..it seems that lots of folk here think it does.

So, I've been letting her gradually fill up with ash till it's an inch beyond the level of the grate, not only so I get a good bed of ash and coals to burn on (not possible with a functioning grate, as so much naturally falls through) but also in the hope that the coals will be burned away to a finer ash and not wasted. It's still got a little way to go till is full... Wow, it takes quite a while!

I will of course also be keeping an eye on how a fuller ash bed effects the burn..

Possible cons:

- I've been told that stoves with grates need to be used that way, or the grates over heat and warp. True?
- I've read elsewhere that the ash left in the pan will become damp in the non-burning season and could rust parts of the stove. True? (i could empty all the ash out at the end of the burning season of course, but suspect that would rather not be bothered doing this.)
- would it eventually get to the point where the ash got impacted and solid that it might become almost impossible to ever get the ash drawer pulled out any more?

Has anyone else out there, with ash pans and grates, tried both approaches and if so, are you able to offer any advice, pros or cons to either the 'ash pan or no ash pan' approach?
 

Jo191145

Burning Hunk
Sep 29, 2013
175
Central Ct
This year I'm using my first panless woodstove. A fireview.
I've found the more ashes I let accumulate in the firebox the more wasted coals I get. Coals get buried in ash and cannot burn. I'm getting more wasted coals in this stove than I've ever seen. Gotta admit I've been pushing this stove real hard.

Just how large are the holes in your grate that any substantial coals fall through? I've never seen anything worth thinking about in my other stoves with ash pans.

If you want to try your stove without the grate I would suggest removing the grate and getting some firebricks. No idea what kind of stove your using but stack them in whatever fashion seems appropriate. Fill any major voids with sand. Can all be easily removed if your expieriments fails and no risk of warping the grate. Personally I don't buy into the grate warpage factor but it doesn't hurt to be safe.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,047
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Not sure how your stove's ash pan works ... but in my opinion the Jotul Oslo's ash pan is one of its best features. A quick stir in the morning and mostly ash drops down into the pan. About every three to four days I take the pan out and dump it into a covered metal pail.
 
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Offset

Member
Mar 10, 2014
105
Haliburton, Ontario, Canada
I do not use the ash pan at all on my Alderlea T5. Mainly for fear of not being able to close it properly again, I don't think it is the best design.

I agree that it is frustrating throwing out burning coals with the accumulated ash but I find if I empty the stove on a regular basis first thing in the morning I can indeed rake and control to a certain extent what gets put into the metal pail.

Alway curious about the colour of the ash and if it relates to burning practices or the type of wood, perhaps both. Some mornings the ash is very black but I really don't know why.
 
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Squirrel

Burning Hunk
Sep 23, 2014
155
Ontario
The ash pan in my Morso 1410 works well but air is allowed to get under the grate and can cause hot spots in the coal bed and sometimes unexpected burn patterns. I have toyed with the idea of removing or lowering the grate to the bottom of the stove, this would increase the size of the firebox 50% but I think I might need more than ember protection under the stove!!
 

Tenn Dave

Minister of Fire
I would not own a stove without a well designed ash pan system. The ash pan system of the Woodstock PH is probably one of the best in the industry. No plug to fool around with, and very few tiny coals fall into the pan. Keeps ash dust from escaping into the house, and the pan hold a huge amount of ash.
 
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brad wilton

Feeling the Heat
Oct 13, 2014
472
quebec
hey fiona , have a dovre with a grate can't say it was a pain to close after sifting ashes into pan .if you want to save embers maybe figure out a little holding bin shovel them in dump them back when your done?
 

Laurent Cyr

Burning Hunk
Dec 14, 2012
188
Quebec, Canada
I don't empty mine once it is full. I find when I empty it, I lose out on the coals which help start the fire back again. It takes longer to get the fire good and going. I empty the ash pan once a year when I finish burning for the season.
 

FionaD

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2013
363
Scotland
Interesting thoughts from everyone. Thanks.

Jake- I can't imagine that your oslo's grate would be much different from my F3's, just bigger. I too have found it convenient to use, that for sure. But as this is my first stove, I've never emptied it any other way, so have nothing to compare it to. I may decide to go back to using the pan as soon as I've cleaned it out the other way a few times. It will for sure need to offer some definite benefits for me to want to forsake using the pan; I want to see if there are any.

I have indeed thought about collecting the coals and putting them back after dumping ash out the pan, but I think if I did, many of them would just fall through the grate. I have noticed recently that I often avoid breaking up the last clumps of 'ghost logs' before reloading becuase when I do so, lots can fall through the grate and that's lost fuel.

I read on an old thread elsewhere on this forum that someone found that whatever was on the floor of their stoves turned to ever finer ash as it got burned and re-burned, I guess that's the bit I'd like to try for myself. I also get a sense that it will vary from stove to stove and especially due to how hot a stove is burned generally.

I'm especially interested in ways to keep hot coals going for just a little longer. And my stove burns quite unevenly from left to right, and I would also like to see if taking the empty space under the grate out of the equation will make a difference.. But that's another story...

I'm sure it's not a big deal either way, just thought it would be interesting to eliminate the grate effect for a while to see what the difference(s) might be. But, truth be told though, the way the weather's looking here just now I think I may be deferring my experiments till next burning season; feels like spring may be arriving here in Scotland!
 

FionaD

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2013
363
Scotland
I don't empty mine once it is full. I find when I empty it, I lose out on the coals which help start the fire back again. It takes longer to get the fire good and going. I empty the ash pan once a year when I finish burning for the season.
We were posting at the same time :)

Interesting... That's kind of what I am feeling might happen for me..
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,404
WI, Leroy
Nc30 here ash pan useless as it is not sealed just a drawer under the fire box so if scraping ashes into/down the small hole created by pulling a small block out they just pile up there and of course scatter dust and then when pulling drawer out get scraped off creating more mess. I do not use it. after the first time of trying it that way. Sift out big chunks and shovel residual into appropriate container( has a lid) then placed outside on cement blocks away from anything combustible. Have another unit with grates drawer fills some gets scraped off when removing so got to clean that up so drawer will seal again. six of one 1/2 doz of another.
 

jotul8e2

Minister of Fire
Feb 2, 2008
574
Ozarks
Not sure how your stove's ash pan works ... but in my opinion the Jotul Oslo's ash pan is one of its best features. A quick stir in the morning and mostly ash drops down into the pan. About every three to four days I take the pan out and dump it into a covered metal pail.
I had to read this through several times to make sure I had not already posted it myself.

I will add that, while I get some coals that drop through, they always burn to ash if I will let them. I dump very, very few coals into the ash can.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,306
South Puget Sound, WA

Rearscreen

Minister of Fire
Dec 21, 2014
642
Vermont
With my PH which has short legs hence no ash pan, I am often left with larger than I want charcoal chunks. Normally I would throw more wood on and open everything up to restart, but when I have time, I don't put wood in, then shovel them forward towards the glass and shut the door, then repeat (shuffle them around) every 10 minutes or so. In an hour, the large chunks have burned to very little ones and some to ash.
 

DougA

Minister of Fire
Dec 13, 2012
1,938
S. ON
My Equinox has a really good, large ash pan that is well sealed. I used the ash pan the first few times and could not understand people who said ash pans were bad. Then I switched to using a shovel because I am basically really lazy. It's so much faster and easier. I only empty once a week or when the weather permits, so when I need to empty the stove, I push the red coals to the side and shovel everything else out. It takes less than a minute. If they are big, hot and red, they get saved, everything else gets tossed onto the gravel driveway. The only problem with that is one of my dogs likes to eat the bits of charcoal.

However, each stove is different. My old VC needed to be cleaned more often and the air holes and vents all had to be cleaned and opened. It was a poor design with vents near the bottom that caused the ash to clog the air vents and lowered performance. At least every few weeks I had to cool the stove down and vacuum the air vents out. PITA
 

Tenn Dave

Minister of Fire
With my PH which has short legs hence no ash pan, I am often left with larger than I want charcoal chunks. Normally I would throw more wood on and open everything up to restart, but when I have time, I don't put wood in, then shovel them forward towards the glass and shut the door, then repeat (shuffle them around) every 10 minutes or so. In an hour, the large chunks have burned to very little ones and some to ash.
With the PH ash pan, you just pull the ashes across the grates a couple of times with a small hoe, move the remaining coals to the front of the stove and reload. Super simple and clean.
 

fire_man

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2009
2,339
North Eastern MA
I would not own a stove without a well designed ash pan system. The ash pan system of the Woodstock PH is probably one of the best in the industry. No plug to fool around with, and very few tiny coals fall into the pan. Keeps ash dust from escaping into the house, and the pan hold a huge amount of ash.

I agree totally with this reply. I never owned a stove with an ashpan until the Progress, but can't imagine ever being without one now. Ash dust in the house is practically eliminated and it's easier to manage the coal bed.

The grates on this stove only allow ash to fall through, and some tiny sparks.
 

BrotherBart

Modestorator
Staff member
With my F3 I let it fill up and forgot about it. Stove is way to easy to scoop out the ashes and cleaning out the housing to put the ash pan back was a pain in the derriere. Easier to scoop if you lift out the log retainer.
 
Not sure how your stove's ash pan works ... but in my opinion the Jotul Oslo's ash pan is one of its best features. A quick stir in the morning and mostly ash drops down into the pan. About every three to four days I take the pan out and dump it into a covered metal pail.
When I dump my ash pan all I pour out is very fine ash. Never once found any coal remnants in it. And I stir the firebox before I start every reload. ???
 

Tenn Dave

Minister of Fire
With my F3 I let it fill up and forgot about it. Stove is way to easy to scoop out the ashes and cleaning out the housing to put the ash pan back was a pain in the derriere. Easier to scoop if you lift out the log retainer.
ash pan design is critical and makes all the difference.
 

BrotherBart

Modestorator
Staff member
I've read elsewhere that the ash left in the pan will become damp in the non-burning season and could rust parts of the stove. True? (i could empty all the ash out at the end of the burning season of course, but suspect that would rather not be bothered doing this.)
With my old steel stove with cast iron ash drop grate in the bottom the ashes in the ash pan were 20 years old when I pulled the stove to replace it. No rust anywhere.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,306
South Puget Sound, WA
I have generally found the fire burns better and longer with a bed of ash under it. Tried both ways in the F3 and the F400 and ended up letting the ash pan fill up and just cleaning out the stove once a month or so. Jotul has a good system, the grate works fine. I just liked the way the stove ran better with a bed of ash under the fire.
 
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BrotherBart

Modestorator
Staff member

Tenn Dave

Minister of Fire
I have generally found the fire burns better and longer with a bed of ash under it. Tried both ways in the F3 and the F400 and ended up letting the ash pan fill up and just cleaning out the stove once a month or so.
Old habits die hard, but a well designed ash pan can change minds........it did for me.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,306
South Puget Sound, WA
Not a habit, a preference.
 
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