Every use of a fire pit brings with it another project: figuring out what to do with the ashes. Whether you repurpose the ashes around the garden or want to get rid of them entirely, be sure the ash is completely cool before handling it. Leave the old, partially burned wood and ashes in the fire pit for several days before removing them whenever possible.
Removing Ashes Safely
Remove the cover screen from the fire pit once you are sure the ashes are cool. Wait several days to do this, whenever possible. Move the ashes and wood bits around with a fireplace poker or long metal-ended garden tool to ensure there are no hot embers.
Remove the ashes from the fire pit with a scoop, spade or shovel. Deposit the ashes in an empty metal container that has a lid, such as a small metal trash can.
Pour a little water over the ashes in the can to ensure there's no risk of fire. Place the lid on the can.
Add more ash to the can whenever the fire pit needs emptying. Always wait several days before transferring the ash to the can.
When disposing the ashes, always avoid using plastic containers or cardboard boxes since both materials may ignite or melt if there's still a hot ember. Also be sure to remove any other flammable materials from the immediate area when disposing the ashes.
Getting Rid of the Ashes
If you'd rather discard the ashes instead of finding a way to put them to use around the yard or garden, contact your local trash-pickup service, or visit the entity's website to learn the requirements for ashes. While many allow the ashes to be placed in the usual trash receptacles for pickup, some have specific requirements, such as putting the cooled ashes in sealed bags or boxes <ahref="http: www.seattle.gov="" util="" myservices="" lookitupwhatsaccepted="" applianceshouseholditems="" ashes="" index.htm"=""> </ahref="http:>before placing it in the trash can. Waiting a full week before discarding the ashes helps ensure they do not cause a fire.
Reusing Fire Pit Ash
Ashes come in handy around the yard and garden, once they're cooled completely, of course. Ensure safety by removing and storing the ashes as you would even in discarding the ash completely.
Oftentimes, its a cheap but effective way to help balance out soil and add more nutrients for plants. Wood ashes can be used to raise the pH of soil in a garden to make it less acidic. Ashes also provide calcium, potassium, and other trace minerals. Hardwood ash contains calcium carbonate which can be used as a substitute for garden lime. You can use 1.5 to 2 times as much ash in place of garden lime. It can also be used to sprinkle in areas where there are snails or slugs to keep them away from plants.
If you have a compost pile, ashes can be used to add more nutrients. Use less than 5 percent of the volume of the compost pile since too much may upset the balance.
Ashes can also be used to help clean up wet paint drips on an outdoor pavement or any concrete surface. Just rub a little ash over the drips and it helps mask tint left behind from the paint.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.