Do I need an ash pan in my fireplace?


Ash pans come in different shapes

Ash pans are commonly found in fireplaces from the late 19th to early 20th centuries across various countries. They are often integral to fully built-in fireplaces and are also seen in fire baskets with matching designs or as separate units placed under a fire basket.


Antique fireplace grate with ash pan


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?


Eco-friendly fire in a fireplace without ash pan


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.


Better aeration without an ash pan

An ash pan placed too close to the grate can block this crucial airflow. Removing the ash pan often results in a stronger draft. Proper airflow is essential for an efficient fire, and the solution might be as simple as adjusting the ash pan's position or removing it altogether.


By removing insulating ash layer

The presence of an ash layer under the fire also contributes to a better draft by insulating the fireplace's cold bottom. A thin layer of about 2 ½ cm (1 inch) is ideal, maintaining insulation while not obstructing airflow. Regular removal of excess ash, leaving a base layer for insulation, can be easily managed with a fireplace shovel and bucket. 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

A well-drafted fireplace not only improves warmth but also ensures more sustainable heating. Efficient combustion results in less smoke and particulate matter, reducing CO2 emissions by requiring less wood for heating. Sustainable burning practices contribute to a healthier environment and more efficient wood use.


Eco-friendly fire without ash pan


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Learn more

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12 Tips for eco-friendly fireplace use

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Posted in FAQ