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patsylabrador

Log fire question

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We've had our chimney swept and have started lighting fires again. It's my second winter with real fires so I'm a relative newbie and have a question. Last night we got back and I hadn't cleared the last fire so I just lit a new one on top of the old one and it went really well. So what do people do? Do you clear the grate every day or what? There seems to be so many different opinions online about laying a fire 🔥 

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We used to have open fires at home and really only cleared the ash when it had built up a bit - certainly not every day. With our fires the ash dropped through a grating into an ash box underneath which then got taken out. Any bigger unburned bits stayed in the grate and the new fire lit on top. We emptied the ash box when it was about 2/3 full (any fuller and it dropped all over the carpet!) Obviously wind direction affects how the fire draws and I remember my parents just giving up and not lighting it if the wind was in a certain direction as they knew it wouldn't draw and we'd just get a sitting room full of smoke!

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Save the ashes for the birds - but as OH found out - don't walk outdoors with it in an open pan as it flies all over the place! :roll: :lol:  I collect it in a bucket and add to their dirt baths.  

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Lol. Like the chickens or wild birds? I've wondered what to do with the ashes. I just have this nagging feeling I'm wasting something useful. 

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I do the same as Soapdragon, no need to clear the fire every day but on the other hand you don't want too much ash on the top as the air won't be able to be drawn through it.  You can put the ashes (making sure they are cold) around certain plants, they love the potash, best off googling for which ones like it best, although roses certainly do.  You can also add it to the compost heap, but not too much.

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I can remember my Dad putting cold ashes on our icy garden path - no idea if it actually defrosted it or just gave a bit more grip! Not stuff you'd want walked back into the house though! If you know anyone with an allotment or big veg patch you could ask them if they want the old ashes. I used to dispose of our chicken poop to a keen gardener friend! There's usually someone out there who wants what you want to shift :lol:

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My old neighbour always puts ashes on the path outside when it's snowing or icy; it drives all the neighbours mad as it then gets trekked through their houses, even after you've wiped your feet. I get the shovel out and burn a few calories shifting the snow instead.

I pop our ashes in the chooks' dustbath or on the compost, a neighbour also has any extras for her compost.

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Fruit bushes like raspberries and blackcurrants etc love potash.  I remember the people who had the allotment next to us always stored theirs up and saved the bonfire ashes for the same thing.

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I relit on top of old ashes, and put ash that is fallen through in chickens dust bath. I think I read somewhere it was good for suffocating lice, mites etc. Didn’t know that about plants,will definitely have a google.

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According to my gardening books potash is as essential as compost for vegetables. Ours gets scattered everywhere over the land, just before rain is due. Note that potash does not contain coal ash, which is high in Sulphur and is best put in the rubbish bin. we also put a small amount into dust baths as I've also read it suffocates lice. Certainly doesn't work on red mite though.

Leaving some ash in the fire acts as an insulator and makes it warm up faster, which is particularly important for wood burning stoves.

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