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Learn how to clean out a woodstove – and make this a weekly part of your routine!
Fall and winter afternoons can be beautiful in the Cariboo. The mornings are often cold though. And it’s time this morning to get that weekly chore done – clean out the wood stove.
Why You Need to Clean out the Wood Stove
Our wood stove is going here probably 5 months out of the year. Maybe not every day but at least once a day.
Overnight temperatures here get cold in the Fall.
Since we use our woodstove steadily throughout late fall and all winter, we need to make sure we clean out the ashes on a regular basis.
I clean the box of the stove at least once a week, sometimes more.
We burn spruce, pine, a bit of fir, and aspen here in our stove. Burning aspen means cleaning out the stove box more often but we don’t mind.
This wood is free to us for gathering and burning, so it’s all good.
A little extra work making sure the stove is burning properly is all that’s needed.
When it’s time to clean out the stove, I start the night before. Instead of banking the stove before going to bed we just leave it alone.
In the morning, the fire will be out and I can go ahead and clean it out.
Use a Metal Bucket
We always use a METAL bucket for the ashes. Safety first!
I find a dustpan works really easy to scrape out all the ashes.
It’s very handy to use a bucket that is wide enough to fit the metal dustpan right down to the bottom.
If your bucket isn’t wide enough, you will end up with a lot of ash and soot going up in the air. Then you will have to give everything a good dusting.
These little “log holders” just lift right out when it is time to clean the stove box.
Once I get the box emptied of ashes, I set them back in their holders.
Now that the box is cleaned, I have one more thing to do before I am finished cleaning out the wood stove.
Empty Out the Wood Stove Ash Pan
Under the stove box is a door. Open that up and you will see an ash pan.
You likely have something similar on your stove. Make sure to get this cleaned out too, every single time you clean the stove box.
When your stove is going, some ashes fall thru the vents in the floor of the wood stove box.
They land in this pan and over time, the pan fills.
Here’s that ash pan filled right to the top with more ash. This would be from one weeks worth of stove burning.
We were likely burning Aspen because that pan is overflowing.
After I pull the pan out, I use a long piece of kindling to scrape out whatever ash is left in the compartment.
Once the wood stove is cleaned out, I take the bucket and the ash pan IMMEDIATELY outside.
These both need to be dealt with right away as there is always a chance of live embers.
Many house fires (and I don’t mean the ones that keep you warm,I mean the ones that BURN DOWN your house) have been started by someone neglecting to deal with the wood stove ashes right away.
The temptation is to just set them right outside the back door and get back inside where it’s warm. Especially if it’s -20C out and you aren’t fully bundled up.
But if there are still ashes smoldering in there, they can continue to smolder for hours, possibly catch fire and burn your house down.
So be sure to take care of them right away – and get the full bucket outside, away from any buildings.
Where to use Wood Stove Ash
Ashes from your wood stove can be used several ways. You can add them to your compost or manure piles.
In cold weather and through Winter, I use the ashes to make shoveled pathways less slippery. Just sprinkle the ash along the walk way for more grip.
In Spring and Fall, spread the ashes on garden bushes that benefit from them! Asparagus and berries love ashes.
The job is all done, and I can relight the stove. Time for coffee!
If you burn with wood, be sure to regularly clean out the wood stove.
Not only will your stove burn better, but it is much safer for you and your family.
We bought a stove top fan and has really helped to blow the heat out into other rooms. Want to check out my review?
Although our stove is not a cook stove, we can cook on it! And it’s an important thing to keep in mind if you are going to buy a wood stove – make sure it has a flat top.
Here’s what we are cooking on our wood stove.