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