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Will Fireplace Ashes Melt Ice?


Will fireplace ashes melt ice or just improve traction on ice? Are there advantages or disadvantages to using ashes instead of rock salt or other chemicals on snow and ice? What are the pros and cons of other de-icers compared with using fireplace ashes on icy surfaces?

Will Fireplace Ashes Melt Ice and Snow?

Fireplace ashes primarily provide traction on icy and snowy surfaces. As a secondary function, fireplace ashes melt ice and snow by darkening the area. Dark areas absorb more of the sun’s heat, thereby speeding up the melting process on sidewalks, driveways, streets and steps to which ashes have been applied.

fireplace ashes melt snow and provide traction

 Advantages of Fireplace Ashes

Fireplace ashes are a natural abrasive, so they provide good traction in winter conditions.

  • They are free! Your fireplace produces them during the cold seasons when ice and snow are an issue.
  • Fireplace ashes do not cause damage to lawns, shrubs or trees.
  • The ashes are actually beneficial for plant growth as it contains 13 essential nutrients soil supplies for plant growth.
  • Conveniently, hardwoods, which are best for fireplace and woodstove burning, produce about three times as much ash and five times more soil nutrients than softwood.
  • Fireplace ashes will not corrode concrete or metals (as some de-icers will.)
  • The ashes from your fireplace will not injure the pet paws.

Disadvantages of Fireplace Ashes

While they are both free and won’t damage plants, there are some disadvantages of using fireplace ashes on ice and snow.

  • Because fireplace ashes are alkaline, use the same caution with them as you would when handling other highly alkaline materials: Use gloves, eye protection and (if the ashes are very fine) a dust mask.
  • Ashes can get tracked into the house. They are, therefore, best used on driveways, roads and areas away from the house such as by barns and garden composts.
  • You don’t want to use ashes from fire pits or grills if you use fire starting fluids with these fires. These added chemicals are not good for your lawn.
  • Fireplace ashes melt ice more slowly than chemical solutions. If you want to speed up the process, mix vegetation- and pet-safe ethylene glycol de-icers (like Safe Paw Ice Melter) or calcium magnesium acetate de-icers (like Snow Joe Melter) with the ashes. Mixed this way, fireplace ashes melt ice and snow more quickly and thoroughly. While these de-icers can be a bit pricey, by mixing them into your ash bucket with the ashes, you can stretch your dollar.

    Safe Paws and Snow Joe Melt

    SafePaws and Snow Joe Melt – Mix either one with fireplace ashes to get a more effective ice or snow melt.

Pros and Cons of Other De-icers

While we think fireplace ashes melt ice and snow well enough and provide good walking and driving traction, they are not the only de-icers available.

  • Sand – Adds traction but is not a de-icer per se. Not harmful to plants, and in the amounts used for de-icing, sand is safe for pet paws. A natural product like fireplace ashes, it is nonetheless less of a problem if it gets tracked inside.
  • Rock and Table Salt – The most common of de-icers, it is also known as sodium chloride. This inexpensive de-icer, works well on snow and ice, but it damages plants, soil and paved surfaces, and it is highly corrosive on metals (think cars and snowmobiles.) Chemical formula: (NaCl)
  • Calcium chloride  – Most chemical de-icers are effective to 15 or 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but calcium chloride is works down to negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit, so it is preferred in super cold climates. Its disadvantages are that it can leave a slippery reside, is expensive, and is highly corrosive to concrete and metals. Chemical formula: (CaCl 2 )
  • Potassium chloride – This is used as both a de-icer and as a fertilizer, so it is better than salt for plants. Over time, however, it can pollute lakes and streams through runoff. It can also corrode metals such as concrete reinforcement bars. Chemical formula: (KCl)
  • Calcium magnesium acetate – Made from a type of limestone, as a de-icer it is harmful to neither plants nor animals. It is less corrosive than other de-icers. Its major drawback is its expense. Chemical formula: (CMA)
  • Urea or carbamide –  This is an organic compound synthesized from natural gas (not urine!) It is a moderately effective de-icer more useful it light winter than heavy winter situations. Runoff can be a pollution problem. Chemical formula: (NH2)2CO
  • Manual – If you’d rather skip the gym and get a workout while you remove the snow, a heavy duty ice chopper-scraper can make ice removal not only possible but also much easier than your would expect.
  • De-Icing Heat Mats – For those who never want to deal with ice or snow on sidewalks or steps again, de-icing mats such as HeatTrak are the way to go! They are designed to stay outside all winter, and, when one or a series are turned on, they safely melt ice and snow. With a wireless control switch, you can even turn them on without going outside. These are a great gift for older relatives living in cold climates.

    De-icing Mats

    De-Icing Mats remove the need have fireplace ashes melt ice and snow.

Note of Caution

“Fireplace ashes” means cold ashes. Don’t be tempted to think warm embers and fireplace ashes melt ice and snow more effectively than cold ones. A stray hot ember is a good way to get to know your local firefighters way too well.

cold fireplace ashes melt ice

The Fire Department warms: Do not use hot fireplace ashes and embers as de-icers this winter.

Also, store ashes in a metal ash bucket with a lid. A cardboard box will not cut it!

Reference: Oregon State Extension Service

Posted in General, Safety Tagged with:

New Year Fireplace Banners

New Year Fireplace Banners

Proclaim “Happy New Year” with banners or garlands or pennants hung from your fireplace mantel. Your options for messages on New Year fireplace banners range from the new year’s numerals to “Happy New Year” and more novel expressions such as “Cheers!”

New Year Fireplace Banners with Year’s Numerals

The classic way to decorate your fireplace mantel for the New Year is to display the numerals of the new year. Depending on  your point of view, that means each year you “have to” or you “get to” buy a new banner.

The following two New Year Fireplace Banners have big (15 inch tall) numbers and come on a six foot line, long enough for even large fireplace. Each jazzes up the number with stars and glittery colors. Choose from classic Silver and Black Sparkle Year Streamer or the more vibrant Multi-Color Sparkle Year Streamer.


For a smaller fireplace, these strung Gold 8 Inch Tall Year Numbers with printed-on glitter work well. Use it alone, or get three of them: One to hang toward the left of the fireplace, one to hang in the middle, and the third to hang toward the right of the fireplace.


Want a short-cut way to make your own New Year Fireplace Banner with the year? These twenty sturdy cut-outs , below, of the year’s number each measure 7 inches wide and 5 inches tall. The glitter looks like sparkly glitter, but is actually printed on the cards, so it won’t flake off onto your hearth or rug. Simply hang or string these on a ribbon of your choice, and you have a great fireplace banner to welcome the new year.


New Year DIY Fireplace Banner Year Numbers

Create a DIY New Year Fireplace Banner with these 20 pre-made year cards.


New Year Fireplace Banners That Say “Happy New Year”

Go straight to the message with a fireplace mantel banner or garland with those three magic words for January 1st: Happy New Year!

With large, 8 1/2 inch by 8 1/2 inch letters, the Beistle Happy New Year Streamers are a great size. The letters can be spread out more if you are using them with especially large fireplaces.  The Beistle Streamers come in sparkly Gold and Black, Silver and Black, and Multi-Color.


Prismatic New Years fireplace banners give the illusion of 3-D prisms and are designed to reflect light from the fireplace and the room. They come in Silver and Black or Gold and Black Banners as well as a New Year Individual Letters Streamer with Prismatic Dots.


These New Year fireplace banners below have one letter on each pennant – whether the pennant is a triangle, square or circle.

Triangle, square, and circular individual letter New Years banners.

Triangle, square, and circular individual letter New Years banners.


Jointed or hinged Happy New Year fireplace banners are another option.

Jointed or Hinged New Year Fireplace Banners

Hinged Happy New Year Fireplace Banners come in a 5 foot long Silver and Black or in a 4 foot long Multi-Colors.


Foil fringe New Year banners work well over a lit fireplace because the waves of rising heat will gently flutter the fringe!

Foil Fringed New Year Fireplace Banners

Foil Fringed New Year Fireplace Banners flutter as the heat rises from the fireplace.

If you want the best of both worlds for you fireplace mantel – the New Year’s numerals and the words “Happy New Year,” you are in luck with these Bunting Banners:

Two-piece New Year Fireplace Banner in Silver or Gold

Two-piece New Year Fireplace Banner in Silver or Gold

Reuse them next year by just taking off the pennants with the year.


New Year Fireplace Banners That Say “Cheers”

Banners that say “Cheers” are versatile. They can be used for New Year’s and encourage a toast. They can also be displayed for weddings, anniversaries, graduations, and promotion parties.


Cheers Banners

Cheers Banners Work for New Years as Well as Other Events


No matter which option you select to welcome the New Year, whether banners or pennants on the fireplace mantel with the new year’s numerals, the words Happy New Year, or the single word Cheers, have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve.

Also, see more ideas for New Year’s Mantel Decorations.

Posted in Decorating, Holidays Tagged with: ,

Christmas Tree Fire Retardants

Fire Retardants for Christmas Tree and Fireplace Mantel Greenery

Nothing can completely prevent a Christmas tree or fireplace greenery from burning. But you can reduce the flammability of your Christmas trees and mantel greenery with these homemade or purchased fire retardants.

Fire retardants prevent fires from starting and spreading, reduce or eliminate harmful smoke, and minimize fire damage. Some are made specifically for Christmas trees and greenery; others are made for anything that can absorb the spray fluid (including fabric, paper, and cardboard)

Fire Retardants Specifically for Christmas Trees

No-Burn Christmas Tree Fire Gard

No-Burn Christmas Tree Fire Gard is designed to be used only on live Christmas trees and other live greenery such as wreaths, garlands, and centerpieces. One spray bottle will cover an 8-foot Christmas tree. Although it claims not to harm needle retention, some users experience a significant needle loss.

Tree Shield Fire Retardant for Christmas Trees

The manufacturer of Tree Shield Fire Retardant for Christmas Trees has had this certified as a fire retardant for live greenery including Christmas trees, garlands, Christmas wreaths and table centerpieces. It is odorless, colorless, and nontoxic.


Fire Retardants for Wood and Other Natural Materials

Master Flame – Fire Retardant – Spray on Application or Mix with Paint

Master Flame Fire Retardant is designed for any absorbent material, but will not work on non-absorbent materials like glass, plastics or Styrofoam. So holiday decorations that are cloth, paper, cardboard, or wood are ideal for this product: stockings, most holiday decorations (except glass or plastic), cardboard boxes including ornament storage boxes, and baskets. It is also appropriate for curtains, upholstery and carpets. To make walls fire resistant, mix Master Flame Fire Retardant with your wall paint.

Because it it not specifically designed for live greenery like Christmas trees and mantel garlands, we do not recommend it for those uses.


Billed as an eco-friendly, “green” fire retardant, this product is plant-based and biodegradable. It can even be safely applied with children present.

Firez Off Fire Retardant works with anything it can soak into: cloth, paper, cardboard, and wood, including live greenery like Christmas trees.

Stop-it Fire Retardant Spray 

Stop-It Fire RetardantStop-It Fire Retardant

This spray-on fire retardant is for use on both live and artificial Christmas trees. Unlike salt-based fire retardants, it will not dry out your tree. Stop-It Fire Retardant can also be used on other cloth (stockings, silk flowers) and wooden (including baskets) holiday decorations.

It is odorless, nontoxic, and meets the stringent California State Fire Marshal standards.

Homemade Fire Retardant

Make your own Christmas tree fire retardant using a product found at your local hardware or nursery.

Mix 9 pounds of Ammonium Sulphate and 2 gallons of water in a bucket large enough to hold your fresh Christmas tree. Place the bucket in a dark, unheated space like a garage or shed. Next place your Christmas tree in the bucket and leave it there for 48 hours. Your tree will absorb the ammonium sulphate, making it fire resistant from the inside out!

When you take your Christmas tree inside to decorate, save the remaining water. Store it in an air-tight container, and it can be reused with next year’s Christmas tree.

A Note of Caution with Fire Retardants

Even if you have sprayed your Christmas tree, fireplace mantel greenery, and Christmas stockings with fire retardants, the contents of your Christmas stockings are not fire proof or fire resistant. Hang your gift-filled Christmas stockings from the fireplace mantel only when they are empty.




Posted in Holidays, Safety Tagged with: ,

Cardboard Fireplace

Christmas cardboard fireplace or decal fireplace

If you don’t have a fireplace, but want one just for Christmas stockings, a removable vinyl wall fireplace decal or a cardboard fireplace can be a great substitute. Although not providing the heat of a real fireplace, such imitation fireplaces add the holiday spirit and come in a variety of choices:

  • 3-D Cardboard Fireplaces
  • Free standing, 2-D Cardboard Fireplace
  • Vinyl Peel-and-Stick Fireplaces Decals for Walls
  • Poster Fireplaces

Each replica fireplace provides a symbolic accessory for the Christmas season, a perfect place for hanging stockings and taking holiday photos.

3-D Cardboard Fireplaces

Most three-dimensional cardboard fireplaces have the distinct advantage of being able to place lightweight decorations on the fireplace mantel, that is, the top of the cardboard fireplace. Because a  3-dimensional cardboard fireplace extends into the room, they have the depth of a real fireplace. They can also fold flat for storage for another year.

If you plan to hang more than empty stockings, you may need to counterbalance these 3-dimensional fireplaces by placing something heavy (like a couple of bricks) into the back of them.

⇒ Corobuff Cardboard Fireplace Decoration

Corobuff Cardboard Fireplace Decoration

This free-standing cardboard fireplace by Corobuff is four feet wide. The recessed firebox portion, where the “fire” is located, is 17 inches wide and 15 inches high. You will have to assemble it by folding and fastening it. Securing it with binder clips or tape, instead of the included clips, improves its sturdiness.

⇒ Shindigz Cardboard FireplaceCardboard Christmas Fireplace Prop by Shindigz

At 3 feet, 8 inches wide and 3 feet tall, the Shindigz 3-dimensional sturdy cardboard fireplace is 10 inches deep. The “fire” is a separate piece that sets in the recessed opening, so those who want to replace the flames with something else (such as battery powered LED candles and LED fairy lights) can do that. Assembly is required, and taping helps keep the corners squared.

LED Fairy Lights

You can use LED fairy lights to create a glow in the firebox of the Shindigz fireplace.

Free-Standing 2-D Cardboard Fireplaces

Some free-standing cardboard fireplaces have side “wings” that fold, similar to a tri-panel fireplace screen, to support the cardboard. Other free-standing cardboard fireplaces have a back support to keep it upright.

Back view of 2-dimensional, stand-up cardboard fireplace.

Back view of 2-dimensional, stand-up cardboard fireplace.

Their main advantages over 3-D cardboard fireplaces are that they assemble more quickly and don’t extend into the room. Attaching stocking to them can be more complicated, however, as they cannot hold much weight unless you firmly attach them to a wall.

⇒ Folding Stand-up Brick FireplaceFolding Stand-up Brick Fireplace

The Beistle Folding Stand-Up Brick Fireplace is three feet wide and 25 inches tall. It comes with cardboard mini-stockings or without the stockings.

Folding Stand-up Brick Fireplace with 10 Carbdoard Mini-Stockings

Folding Cardboard Fireplace also available with ten 7.5 inch stockings printed on both sides.

⇒ Advanced Graphics Life Sized Cardboard Fireplace
Fireplace - Advanced Graphics Life Size Cardboard Standup

One of the largest cardboard fireplaces, the 49 inch tall, 44 inch wide Advanced Graphics Life Size Fireplace has a cardboard stand in back that holds it upright. Attach it to a wall if you plan to hang filled stockings from it.

Vinyl Peel-and-Stick Fireplace Decals for Walls

These peel-and-stick decals are typically made of 3M vinyl. They can only be used on smooth surfaces, but they are safe to used on painted walls. Many are smaller than most actual fireplaces. To hang stockings, consider using Command hooks sized to the weight of your filled stockings.

⇒ Fathead Fireplace Wall Decal

Fathead Wall Decal, "Fireplace"

One of the few vinyl decal fireplaces that are as large as most fireplaces, the Fathead Fireplace Wall Decal is 47 inches wide and 35 inches tall. It is a classic white fireplace with a warm fire, appropriate in most every room’s style. Hang a wreath above it, and you have instantly decorated your room for Christmas.

Although more expensive than other fireplace vinyl wall decal stickers, unless your space is very limited, it is more likely to give you the effect you wish than the smaller fireplace decals.

⇒ N1239 Fireplace Vinyl Sticker 

N1239 Fireplace Vinyl Sticker with Off-White Mantel

N1239 Fireplace vinyl sticker decal in room

The N1239 Vinyl Sticker Fireplace is 28 inches wide and 22 inches tall. The mantel surround is an off-white and frames and arched firebox.

⇒ N1241 Vinyl Sticker FireplaceN1241 Fireplace vinyl sticker in medium oak

Like the vinyl fireplace decal number N1239 but want it in a darker, oak style? The N1241 Vinyl Sticker Fireplace has a natural, medium wood tone. It, too, is 28 inches wide and 22 inches tall.

⇒ Christmas Decorated N1241 Vinyl Sticker Fireplace

Christmas decorated N1241 Vinyl Fireplace Decal

Identical to the preceding fireplace decal with the exception of the addition of greenery and two stockings, the Christmas Decorated N1241 Vinyl Sticker Fireplace is for those who want their Christmas fireplace complete. Again, it is 28 inches wide and 22 inches tall.

⇒ Wallmonkeys Christmas Fireplace Peel and Stick Wall Decal

Wallmonkeys Christmas Fireplace Peel and Stick Wall Decal

If you are looking for a fireplace decal with a less realistic and more whimsical take, the Wallmonkeys Christmas Fireplace Decal has that Disney-esque quality that often appeals to children. This decal is also small: 24 inches wide and only 22 inches tall. Since it is small, it is works in a little child’s bedroom.

Fireplace Posters

These posters focus on the fire more than the fireplace. They do not show the area around the fireplace (the fireplace surround) or a mantel.

Because they are posters, they will need to be attached to a wall. Another option is to place them over the firebox of an unused fireplace. If you never intend to light your fireplace, but would like the look a a blazing fire nonetheless, a fireplace poster is a great option.

⇒ Realistic Fireplace Poster in Two Sizes

Experience This Incredible Realistic Fireplace Poster in Super High Quality

Printed on high quality, photo gloss paper canvas, this Realistic Fireplace Poster is available in a 24″ by 18″ or 36″ by 24″ size. Attach it to the wall or place it over the opening of a real but unused fireplace.

⇒ Extra Large Fireplace Poster

Posters: Fires XXL Poster - Warm Fireplace 47 x 32 inches

This Extra Large Fireplace Poster is 47 inches wide and 32 inches tall. It is a photo-realistic image of the fire in a fireplace.

⇒ Shindigz Wood and Marble Fireplace

Shindigz Wooden Marble Fireplace Insta View
This poster is unlike most fireplace posters: It is much larger, made of thin plastic, and shows not only the roaring flames but also the complete fireplace (and even the hearth!)

The Shindigz Wood and Marble Fireplace is a huge 5 feet, 2 inches wide and 3 feet, 2 inches tall.


A 3-dimensional cardboard fireplace, 2-dimensional free-standing cardboard fireplace, vinyl peel-and-stick fireplace wall decal, or poster of a fireplace fire are all ways to add an instant fireplace to your home. Create a place to hang those Christmas stockings or to take Christmas photos in front of. And when the holidays are over (or better yet, when you get a real fireplace), these can be put away to be reused another year or another place.

No fireplace for Christmas stockings? Get fireplace wall decal or cardboard fireplace

Posted in Decorating, Holidays Tagged with: ,
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