backyard firepit

Do You Have to Clean Out a Firepit?

Do You Have to Clean Out a Firepit?

Ash is alkaline and corrosive to the surrounding firepit materials and can shorten the lifespan of your firepit surround. Ash also builds up as debris over time, making building and maintaining your fire harder. In short, yes. 

How Often to Clean the Firepit

A thin layer of ash can help your fire burn well. Leave about an inch of ash in the firepit to help insulate coals. Give your firepit a thorough cleaning once a season to keep it in the best working order. 

You could also invest in a firepit grate with ember catcher and clean out your ashes after every fire, allowing the fine mesh to serve the purpose of the ash bed, so you do not need to leave behind the corrosive ash.


When to Clean the Firepit

Wait at least 24 hours after a fire before you attempt to clean it out. It takes time for the embers and coals to cool completely. Assume there are still hot embers left behind in the ash and wear proper protective gear. If you do find any hot coals, move them away from where you are cleaning and surround them with a thin pile of ash. Use a shovel or metal scoop and store the ashes in a metal bucket or ashcan.

Remove as much ash as you can and ensure there are no remaining embers before beginning a more thorough cleaning process. A shop vac can capture the last of the ashes once you've removed the bulk of ash and are sure the rest is thoroughly cooled down. 

Cleaning a Masonry Fire Pit 

Before you begin, wear eye protection, long sleeves, long pants, and gloves to protect yourself from the cleaning solution. To make a cleaning solution, mix ten parts of water with one part of muriatic acid in a glass container or acid-resistant plastic bucket. Always pour the water in first before the acid; doing it in reverse can cause a dangerous reaction. Using a scrub brush, thoroughly clean all the blocks, inside and out. Once cleaned, hose down the firepit to rinse away residue and the cleaning solution. Before use, allow the firepit to dry completely, typically two to three days. 

Cleaning a Cast Iron Fire Pit

Use hot water and steel wool to scrub down ash residue from the interior of a cast iron firepit. Rinse away residue once you finish scrubbing. Don't forget to wipe down any remaining water from the surface to prevent the cast iron from rusting! 

Cleaning a Steel Fire Pit

Steel creates a durable firepit that's easier to clean than many other options. No dangerous chemicals are necessary to loosen creosote from the walls of a steel firepit. Instead, you'll want a warm, soapy water bucket and a soft cloth. Rinse the soapy water and residue away and wipe the firepit down to ensure it doesn't rust. 

Cleaning a Legacy Firepit Insert

For the best solution to keeping your firepit safe, clean, and functional, consider a Legacy Firepit Insert. Constructed of heavy-duty steel, it's easier to clean than other materials. A funnel directs ash into a basket with handles for easy lifting. Instead of digging out the ash, you can wait till the firepit cools and merely lift the ash basket out. With disposable liners, clean-up is as easy as it can be.


How Can You Dispose of Firepit Ash?

You need not toss your firepit ash in the trash. Ash is beneficial for a variety of purposes around your home.

  • Compost - Tossed in your compost heap, wood ash can improve potassium levels. 
  • Ice Melt - Wood ash can provide traction over a slick, icy road, and the potassium salts will help the snow melt faster. 
  • Soil Amendment - If your soil needs a pH boost, wood ash will improve its quality. 
  • Odor Absorber - Skunk bombed pup? Rub wood ash into their fur for a stink-free companion. Put a small bowl in your fridge or a room that's gone stale to soak up unfortunate smells. 
  • Natural Cleaning - When mixed with water, wood ash forms lye water, a natural bleaching agent. Lye water and fat make traditional soaps. Mix into a paste with a small amount of water to polish up dull metal or clean soot residue from your fireplace glass. Sprinkle wood ash onto oil spills on your driveway; sweep away the stain with the ash after several hours. 
  • Humidity Control - Highly absorbent, a small tray of wood ash can soak up excess moisture in damp spaces. 
  • Pest Control - A thin layer of wood ash over an unwelcome ant hill will force them to move elsewhere. A line of wood ash will keep your garden free of slugs and snails. 

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