After the fire, keeping it clean

I know, we’re March already, so technically fire-February has passed. Since I missed some weeks, I’ll just have it continue into March. Up for today: how to keep your fireplace working perfectly.

Day-to-day actions

Some things you just have to do every day (or every couple of days) if you plan on having a fire daily.

Ash tray

Most stoves, if not all, will have some kind of an ash tray to collect ash falling through the grit. Depending on how long you’ve had the fire going, you’ll need to clean it out every couple of fires. There’s a multitude of things you can do with it, from polishing silver to using it in your garden in a variety of ways. I usually collect it in a bucket to get rid of it eventually, but a small part I keep for…

Cleaning the door window

If you get your fire hot enough, some of the soot buildup will burn away again (as evidenced on the stones inside the fire chamber). Not all of it will burn off the door window though, and for that I use some ashes. Contradictory to what may seem, ashes are actually quite good in getting your fireplace glass clean again. All you need is a little ash, a little water and some paper towels. Just moisten the towels, dip them in the ashes and start scrubbing the glass.

Works like a charm.

Cleaning the stove itself

Every once in a while we’ll want to clean it up, if only to take off the dust collecting on top of it. Our installation guy recommended using water only, no soap or any other additions. After reading up a while I found that, since soapstone is basically non-soft, porous and doesn’t stain, in theory one should be clear to use household soap or detergent without problem. For now we’re sticking with the water only option, as we want the stove to look as natural as possible (and remain that way). The only remark I have: be careful when wiping the stone, as it scratches easily. Better to rinse your cloth once too many!

Annual actions

Cleaning out the heat canals

The space containing our ash tray has three holes in it (closed up with a piece of stone that clamps itself up in the opening), giving access to the inner canals just before they exit out the stove. Due to these long canals soapstone stoves give off less particles (the so-called fly-ash) to the air, and this is the place where those particles will build up. It won’t be much (due to the high heat burning if you’re doing it right), so stick in a vacuum cleaner once Spring has arrived and your fun with fire has ended for the season. Besides, you won’t be able to open up the holes as long as the stove is still warm, so you’re basically convicted to wait it out anyway.

I recommend doing this in Spring and not waiting it out until Autumn, as you’ll likely forget it.

Cleaning out the chimney

Over here in Belgium we’re legally required to have our chimney cleaned out every two year by a professional. They will then provide you with a certificate so you can prove you’ve had it done correctly. This year we’re still off the hook, but for next year we’ll have to have it done.

That’s about it, pretty much all it takes me in maintenance to have a nice fire every day. If there’s anything I missed, or any tips and tricks you picked up along the way, one place to go: the comments!