Winter afternoons can be beautiful in the Cariboo. The temperature rises and it’s wonderful being outside in the sun.
But once the sun dips down, it cools off fast and it’s nice to come in to a nice warm fire. 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.
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.
We always use a METAL bucket for the ashes. Safety first! It’s handy to use a bucket that is wide enough to fit a metal dustpan right down to the bottom. I find a dustpan works really easy to scrape out all the ashes. 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 stovebox. Now that the box is cleaned, I have one more thing to do.
Under the stovebox is a door. Open that up and you can see the ash pan. You likely have something similar on your stove. Make sure to get this cleaned out too. The ashes fall thru the vents in the floor of the woodbox and land in this pan.
Here’s that ash pan filled right to the top with more ash. 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 woodstove is cleaned out, I take the bucket and the ashpan 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 woodstove ashes right away. The temptation is to just set them right outside the back door and get back inside where it’s warm. But if there are still ashes smoldering in there, they can continue to smolder for hours, possibly catch fire and burn your house down.
When there is snow on the ground now, I use the ashes to make shovelled pathways less slippery. In Spring and Fall, we always 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!