Why do I need a fireplace shovel?
You control the ash layer in the fireplace with a fireplace shovel. You can remove the ash completely, you can partially remove it, or you can smooth out the ash layer. In the context of an eco friendly fireplace use, it is important to control the ash layer. If there is too much ash in the fireplace, oxygen cannot get to the fire, and it becomes difficult to light a good and evenly burning fire. Removing all the ash is also not advisable, since the ash provides an insulation layer for the fire against the cold of the floor. This insulation layer makes it easier to light the fire quickly and for it to burn steadily. Both are conditions for eco friendly fireplace use. This is because the wood burns better, and less ash remains. The fire also gives off less smoke and therefore fewer particulates.
A fireplace shovel is therefore a very functional tool in the fireplace. Because you use it regularly, at least every time before you light the fire, it is useful to keep the shovel in sight. It therefore also has a decorative function.
Advantages of a fireplace shovel over an ash tray
Some people are accustomed to building a fire over an ash tray under the fire basket or andirons. As a result, you do not have to clean the fireplace with a shovel, and emptying the ash tray is sufficient. The disadvantage of an ash tray is that you will not get air under the fire, which means that the fire will burn less well. It is better to build the fire on andirons or a fire basket and to control the ash layer with a fire shovel.
How often should I remove the ash?
You never have to remove the ash completely, unless you want to give the fireplace a good cleaning. The best method is to keep a layer of ash in the fireplace and to shovel out the excess ash occasionally. In short, do not shovel out the ash too often.
One reason for shoveling the ash out more often is if you have problems with descending drafts in the fireplace. These drafts allow the ash to blow into the room. There is a great English fireplace accessory intended to protect against ash blowing into the room, namely the fender. Due to the raised edge, the ash remains inside the fireplace. It is also a very decorative fireplace accessory.
The ash does not fall through the holes
With beautifully crafted shovels, the blades are often artfully cut out. Many people wonder whether the ashes will fall through the perforations. This is not the case because ash has a flaky structure and sticks together.
Types of fireplace shovels
There are different types of fireplace shovels. On our site, you will only find decorative, antique fireplace shovels, that are all hand-forged. The choice consists of three types of shovels:
The English fireplace shovel
The English shovel often has a long handle and is beautifully made. They are very decorative and often display beautiful craftsmanship. Many high-end English shovels are made of polished brass or polished steel. English shovels may be purchased separately but also as part of a matching fireplace set. An English fireplace set, in addition to a fireplace shovel, usually includes tongs and a poker.
One point of attention with the English fireplace shovel is the rivet connection between the handle and the blade. If it becomes looser due to use, the shovel may become less stable. We use a star system on the site. For the English shovels, 3 stars (***): stable; 2 stars (**): less stable but still usable; and 1 star (*): only suitable for decorative purposes.
The French fireplace shovel
You see a lot of shovels in France. A French fireplace set generally consists of tongs and a shovel. The French shovels are often made of wrought iron and have a robust, rustic appearance. There are also more decorative fireplace sets made from unpolished brass. The French shovels also come in all shapes and sizes.
The Dutch fireplace shovel
Traditionally, there are few shovels in the Netherlands, at least a lot fewer than in France or England. You can find Dutch shovels in all shapes and sizes. They are a lot more rustic than the English ones, but not as rustic as the French ones. The Dutch fireplace shovels may be purchased separately or as part of a fireplace set.
What length should the fireplace shovel be?
The bigger the fireplace and the bigger the fire, the more ash the fireplace produces and the more convenient it is to have a larger shovel.
How do I store my fire shovel?
You use the shovel less often than the tongs or the poker, but it is still handy to keep the shovel within reach. Smaller shovels, like some Dutch scoops, are often hung on an (antique) rack on the side of the fireplace. Larger shovels (such as the French and English shovels) are usually placed in the corner of the hearth or in a log holder. There are many advantages to placing the shovel in a stand along with other fireplace tools. The ash from the fireplace tools does not fall on the floor but in the tray of the stand. Furthermore, it is a stable form of storage. Loose fireplace tools leaning against a wall sometimes fall over.
Note the craftsmanship
Although the antique fireplace shovel is a simple utensil, it is often a masterpiece of craftsmanship. Forging the shovel by hand requires a lot of time, attention and creativity. That applies to the simple shovels but is certainly the case with the more complex decorative shovels such as the English shovels. Antique fireplace shovels have often proved their worth for a long time and will continue to do so in the future.
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