The Ash Can Filter: a Simple, Safe and Inexpensive Solution for Cleaning Fire Ash
Cleaning ash is both messy and dangerous. Naturally, homeowners might think of using a regular vacuum as a solution, but that would be a big mistake. Regular vacuums aren’t suited for this particular task and for some very good reasons.
The first and most obvious reflects the danger involved. Hot sparks and embers can endure for a long time while hidden in cool dust. When regular vacuums inhale them, paper filters catch fire and plastic melts. This is not a good thing.
Another reason is due to lack of containment. Particles pass easily through regular filters.
An excess of fine dust leaves that lingering ashtray smell in the air and gray film on furniture, causing users to gag and experience that sticky icky feeling. Homeowners spend time and money cleaning their homes afterward. That’s too much aggravation.
Yet a third reason deals with debris that clogs vacuum bags and filters. Packed dust and other particles restrict the inflow, cause backup and weaken the suction. Users are left cleaning out their vacuums every few minutes.
The most critical reason why regular vacuums are insufficient, however, is that debris hinders performance, slowing operation over time. Fine dust and burning embers clog and damage the motor, causing irreparable damage. This is akin to an embolism going into the brain. Death can occur. Vacuums are no different.
There is a solution . . . or actually two
The current market has two options for cleaning ash: the ash vacuum and the ash can filter also called "ash separator". These two are not the same, but both guarantee impressive results.
Ash vacuums are designed to pick up cold or warm ash from fireplaces and stoves. They are constructed with fire-resistant materials and have a pre-filter cage for added protection. Their metal nozzles and steel canisters ensure that potentially dangerous debris is picked up and stored away safely and without a mess.
Ash can filters, on the other hand, have no motor but are reinforced with metal and are extremely durable. They require a connection with a regular vacuum for suction power, although this connection can be notably poor and the suction weak due to the ash filter’s internal capacity and clogs do occur on occasion. What makes them worthwhile is the fact they have a spark arrestor screen pre-filter to deflect hot sparks, smoldering embers and other dangerous particles. Ash can filters inhale only cooled fine ash, so their capabilities, though limited, are specialized.
By the way, ash vacuums run anywhere from $100 to $300 or more, depending on the brand and make. Ash can filters fall in under $100, so buyers save some money on the latter.
Don’t Do it!
Homeowners who have ash to clean are advised NEVER to use regular vacuums. Instead, they should invest in an ash vacuum or, if they wish to save money, an ash can filter. That’s the best and safest way to go.