We have a wood burning fireplace. Now while that isn’t news, we do use it to help heat our house. And if you have any experience with wood fires, having one means that cleaning it is part of your regular house maintenance.
Besides providing warmth, wood fires generate ash. A lot of ash. Our fireplace is in use nearly every day during the winter. I repeat, that is a lot of ash. Now we could simply bag up our ash and toss it in the trash, but if we did, we would be throwing away something of value… something that our grandparents and great grandparents may have used in their own homes.
Believe it or not wood ash makes a great glass cleaner. Now while we could go out and buy a commercial glass cleaner, we would rather make something than buy. But in order to turn it into a glass cleaner, there are a few steps you need to take.
First, take your wood ash and place it in a bucket that will not melt nor catch on fire. We use a metal bucket for this purpose. Take the ash from the fireplace and put it into this bucket and allow it to set for several days (at least three) if you have recently used your fireplace. This helps ensure that any live embers have a chance to die and lessen the likelihood of you burning yourself.
Next, scoop about 1/2 cup of ash into another, smaller container. We use a glass jar set aside just for this task. As we scoop ash into the jar, leave behind any unburned debris as well as large chunks of embers. The finer the ash, the better. Now add just enough water to the ash to make a paste, stirring until the mixture is smooth and all ash has been incorporated. (We use a plastic spoon.) Believe it or not, you have just made a homemade pumice!
Once the paste has been made, dampen towel. (We take our old cotton t-shirts and cut them into large pieces so they can be used for cleaning projects around the house rather than using paper towels.) Dip the dampened towel into the paste then rub this across the dirty glass. The dampened pumice works particularly well on soot or other ‘baked’ on grime. It may take a little elbow grease, but the wood ash paste will work. NOTE: this cleaner would be overkill on glass that is just a little dusty, but is fantastic for heavily soiled glass.
With the last of the soot or other grime removed, you are ready for the last step. Take another damp rag and clean away any remaining film on the glass. For this step, it is important not to use paper towels as they tend to leave behind little bits of paper on the surface, marring your newly cleaned glass.
So while ash is the waste following a warm fire, it does not have to be thrown away. Set aside some of that ash and turn it into a homemade pumice. This pumice in turn makes a great cleaner for baked on grime. My fireplace and oven glass have never looked better and I didn’t have to spend a dime on harsh chemicals. Ash makes a fantastic glass cleaner!