Ash pans come in different shapes
Ash pans can be found in fireplaces in a number of countries in houses from the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. Ash pans are often part of a fully built-in fireplace. You also see fire baskets with a matching ash pan. Use is also made of loose ash pans under a fire basket.
Are ash pans useful or a habit?
Some people are used to burning with an ash pan, others think it is an indispensable part of the fireplace. After all, an ash pan is useful for sliding the ashes out of the fireplace and throwing them away. Is that so?
Ash pans often affect the draft in the fireplace
Our experience is that in principle it is not wise to light a fire over an ash pan, because it reduces the draft in the fireplace. (See also: 10 Tips to improve the chimney draft of the open fireplace
Due to poor aeration of the fire
Many fireplaces have a touchy draft. A common reason is that the fireplace cannot draw enough oxygen to keep the fire burning properly. This aeration must mainly come from below. The solution is therefore to lift the fire up from the bottom of the fireplace and thus stimulate the air supply from below. This can be done with the help of a fire basket (with built-in grate) or with the combination of andirons and a grate.
An ash pan under the grate can obstruct the air supply. The closer the ash pan is to the grate, the more it obstructs the air supply. Removing the ash pan often offers the solution for a better draft in the fireplace. (See also: What is the purpose of andirons and fireplace grates?)
By removing insulating ash layer
In addition to air supply, there is another reason that the ash pan reduces draft, and that is that a layer of ash under the fire improves the draft in the fireplace. This is due to the insulating effect of ash, which blocks the cold from the floor under the bottom of the fireplace. As a result, the fire starts faster when lighting the fire, and you keep a better draft in the fire. If an ash pan is shallow, it must be emptied regularly. As a result, you keep removing the insulating ash layer.
It is better to burn over a layer of ash about 2 ½ cm (1 inch) thick and scoop away the ash from time to time if the layer becomes too thick for the air supply. You always leave a layer of ash in the fireplace for insulation. This can be done, for example, with a fireplace shovel and a bucket intended for the fireplace (see also: Which fireplace accessories do I need?). That is certainly as easy as emptying a (heavy) ash pan in one go, and it does not have to be done as often.
Due to less sustainable combustion
Finally, with a better draft you heat more sustainably. When the fireplace draws better, you will get a better and more complete combustion of the wood. Better combustion means less smoke is released and therefore less particulate matter in the air. It also reduces CO2 emissions because you burn the wood more completely and therefore need less wood. (See also: 10 Tips for eco-friendly fireplace use )
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