As the weather starts to cool down, many people enjoy gathering around the warmth of a fire pit. Whether you’re roasting marshmallows with the kids or enjoying a glass of wine with friends, a fire pit can be a great addition to any backyard. However, once the fire has died down, it’s important to properly dispose of the wood ash left behind. If not handled correctly, fire pit ashes can be a fire hazard and a nuisance to your neighbours.
Wood ashes from a wood stove or fire pits can be a blessing for your garden, and can enhance your compost pile and tame acidic soils in your garden.
Pro Tip : Always have a reliable fire extinguisher available and wear protective gloves when handling wood ash. Even a metal bucket or a small bucket with water or garden soil to help stop flames is helpful to have around.
So, where should you dispose of your fire pit ashes? Here are some tips to help you handle this task safely and responsibly:
Let your ashes cool completely
Allow the ashes to cool completely: It’s crucial to allow the ashes to cool completely before attempting to dispose of them. This can take several hours, or even a full day, depending on the size of your fire pit and the amount of fire pit ash it produces. If you try to dispose of the wood ash while they’re still hot, you run the risk of setting something on fire or causing burns. Nobody needs that!
Be especially careful when transporting your hot wood ashes over dry grass as they can easily ignite the grass and cause a dangerous fire. It’s best if you leave the leftover ashes in the same place they were burnt, and make the burnt wood is cool to the touch. If you must move your fire pit, then of course be sure that it has cooled down completely, so that the burned hardwoods and ash does not fall out when being transported.
Ash Disposal FAQ
How do I know the ashes are completely cooled down?
Temperature: The most obvious way to tell if ashes are cooled is to touch them. If the ashes are still hot to the touch, they are not cooled completely.
Colour: Another way to tell if ashes are cooled is to look at their colour. Freshly extinguished ashes will be grey in colour, but as they cool, they will turn white. If the ashes are still grey in colour, they are not cooled completely.
Smoke: If the ashes are still producing smoke, they are not cooled completely. As the ashes cool, the smoke will dissipate.
Can I chuck fire pit ashes in my regular rubbish bin?
Yeah, you can. However, make sure the ashes are completely cool before doing so. It’s a good idea to pop them in a metal container and let them sit for several days to a week before putting them in your bin to be safe.
Can I use the ashes in my garden?
Absolutely! Wood ashes can be great for many parks as they’ve got potassium, calcium, and other minerals that enrich the soil. But watch out for plants that like acidic soil, as ashes can make the soil more alkaline. Always do a soil test before going all out with ashes in your garden.
Can I compost fire pit ashes?
Yeah, but just a bit at a time. As with gardens, wood ashes can be an excellent addition to compost heaps because of their mineral content. But if you chuck in too much, you might end up with alkaline compost, which might only be top-notch for some plants.
Can I spread ashes on my lawn?
n moderation, wood ashes can be spread thinly on lawns as a sort of lime substitute, sorting out the soil pH and adding nutrients. But if you go overboard, it might do more harm than good. It’s best to test a small patch first.
Are there places specifically for dumping fire pit ashes?
Some councils or waste facilities have particular guidelines or spots for ash disposal, especially in regions where bushfires are a worry. Always check local rules to see specific spots or guidelines in your area.
It is important to allow the ashes to cool completely before attempting to dispose of them, as hot ashes can easily ignite flammable materials and start a fire. It is generally a good idea to wait at least several hours, or even a full day, before attempting to dispose of the ashes to ensure that they are completely cooled.
In addition to the risk of starting a fire, hot wood ash can also cause burns if they come into contact with skin. It is important to use caution when handling fireplace ashes and to wear protective gear, such as gloves and long sleeves, if necessary.
Use a metal container
Place the ashes and hot embers in a metal container using a small metal shovel. Once the ashes are cool, you should place them in a metal container with a tight-fitting lid. A metal container is important because it won’t catch fire if the ashes ignite. It’s also a good idea to choose a container with a sturdy handle, so you can easily transport the ashes to the designated disposal area.
Dispose of wood ash correctly
Dispose of the wood ash in a designated area: Many localities have designated areas for the disposal of fire pit ashes. These are typically located at a landfill or waste transfer station. Before disposing of your ashes, you should check with your local government to find out where these areas are located and how to properly dispose of them. In some cases, you may need to obtain a permit or follow specific guidelines for disposal of wood ash. It’s always best to check.
Be careful with hot embers and ashes
Use caution when disposing of the ashes: When transporting the ashes to the designated disposal area, use caution to ensure that they do not spill or blow out of the fire pit. It’s also a good idea to keep the container at a safe distance from any flammable materials or sources of ignition, such as a hot car trunk or a garage.
Consider alternative methods of disposal for your wood ashes. If you’re unable to dispose of your ashes at a designated area, there are a few alternative methods you can consider. For example, you can mix the ashes with soil and use them as a natural fertilizer in your garden. Just be sure to allow the ashes to cool completely and mix them with the soil in small amounts, as too much ash can be harmful to plants.
Use wood ash as a natural pest repellent
Another option is to use the ashes as a natural pest repellent. Sprinkling a small amount of ashes around the base of plants can help to deter slugs and snails. Just be sure to use the ashes sparingly, as they can be toxic to some plants. Also, make sure they are completely cool, as you don’t want to damage the delicate plants, especially during growing season.
Avoid dangerous types of wood ash
It’s important to note that not all fire pit wood ashes are suitable for alternative disposal methods. If you’ve used treated wood or other materials that contain chemicals, it’s best to dispose of the ashes at a designated area.
There are a few types of wood that can produce dangerous ashes when burned. One example is treated wood, which is wood that has been chemically treated to make it more resistant to insects and rot. Treated wood may contain toxic chemicals, such as arsenic and chromium, which can be released into the air as fumes when the wood is burned. These fumes can be harmful if inhaled and can also contaminate the soil if the ashes are disposed of improperly.
It is generally a good idea to avoid burning treated wood or wood that produces high levels of creosote in a fire pit or fireplace. Instead, consider using wood that is untreated and has a low resin content, such as oak or maple. By using safer types of wood, you can help to reduce the risk of fire and the production of hazardous wood ash.
By following these simple guidelines, you can help to ensure that your fire pit ashes are disposed of safely and responsibly. Whether you choose to dispose of them at a designated area or consider an alternative method, it’s important to take the time to properly handle the ashes left behind after a cozy evening by the fire.