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Ash should be carefully handled; it is a highly alkaline material (the pH can be as high as 12) and can cause skin damage, so during handling gloves should be worn at all times.

For the smaller appliances, the ash pan is emptied using a small shovel. Ash should be put in a metal bucket until the last sparks have died out. Thereafter it should be disposed of as waste after careful wrapping. Wood ash contains small amounts of heavy metals that the trees have taken up from the soil during growth. While amounts are small, the ash should not be used as a fertilizer in a kitchen garden or on other areas where plants or animals are grown for human consumption. Wood ash is however suitable as a fertilizer for garden lawns or on flowers and shrubs, or in the forest, where the application of wood ash can compensate for nutrients removed during harvesting of the wood.
Larger appliances are equipped with automatic de-ashing, usually a small auger that transports ash out of the boiler into a container. The ash container is often made of heavy steel so that it does not become deformed by heat if the ash is not totally burned out. The weight of the ash container can be substantial and therefore there needs to sufficient space around the container to empty it. If a larger boiler is situated in the basement of a building one should consider installing a longer auger that can take the ash directly out of the building and into a closed ash container.

Ash has also some cement-like properties, so it will harden when it comes in contact with moisture.

Copyright COFORD 2006.