Heating your home with a fireplace can be a real pleasure, but it certainly isn’t the same thing as an outside fire pit you would use while camping! Can you put out a fire in your fireplace the same way that you would put out your campfire?
Pouring water on a fireplace will cause damage to your fireplace and chimney and has the potential to cause steam burns and a large smoky mess in your home. The only time you should pour water on a fireplace is during an emergency.
If we aren’t supposed to pour water into a fireplace to put it out then what are the safe ways of doing it? And if water is our only choice; is there a safe way to use water to put out a fire in a fireplace?
Why Pouring Water On A Fireplace Is A Bad Idea
The masonry your fireplace is made from is susceptible to damage once it absorbs water, which will cause it to become brittle and crack. Additionally, water being thrown on a hot fire causes lots of hot steam that can burn you if you’re too close.
A fireplace and chimney are installed with materials composed of steel and masonry that become fragile when they absorb water. The masonry will weaken and crack and the steel will begin to rust and weaken the structure of your chimney.
Of course, this process isn’t instant, but over time, every drop of water will contribute to the break-down process. It’s probably best to not speed it up.
The steam that would come from pouring water onto the hot fireplace is also hot enough to cause steam burns. The fire gets so hot that the water instantly turns to steam which is then superheated by the fireplace and will cause major damage to anyone too close to it.
This same steam also rises into the chimney and mixes with the creosote (a tar-like substance that needs to be cleaned out of your chimney annually) which will spread a strong tar-like smell through your home.
When the water is poured on the fire this way it will create a lot of additional smoke and make a mess of the ashes in the fireplace. This extra smoke has a hard time escaping through the chimney because of the steam that has also come from pouring the water on the fire. The smoke then gets pushed back down and out the fireplace into your home.
Lastly, pouring water on a bunch of ash will cause the ashes to lump together, forming these nasty blobs of stuck-together ash. Cleaning up dry ashes is as easy as sweeping them up, but cleaning these wet, lumped-together ashes will be a nightmare.
The Best Way To Put Out A Fire In Your Fireplace
The best way to put out the fire in your fireplace is by using your fireplace tools to break up the hot coals and spreading baking soda over the remaining embers.
At this point, we can tell that it is a lot different putting out a fire in your fireplace from putting out a campfire! Eventually, that fire will stoke itself out, but we don’t always have the time to wait and let that happen, so here is the best way to put out a fire in your fireplace.
- Take your fireplace poker and shovel to spread out the remaining fuel (firewood, etc) and embers and press it down into a flattened mound. This will begin the cooling process of the embers and ash in the fireplace.
- Cover the remaining embers and fuel in the fireplace with some of the cooled-down ash. This will help prevent reignition and speed up the process.
- Now sprinkle some baking soda on top of your covered mass embers, this will prevent any of the embers from popping up and reigniting the fire.
- Watch over your fireplace for a few minutes to ensure that the fire is out before leaving it unattended.
Using this method will ensure that the fire in your fireplace is out and your home is safe when you are ready to head to bed or leave the house. It is a quick and effective way to extinguish a fire that doesn’t cost much to keep your home and family safe!
Remember, we don’t want to use water unless it is an emergency!
Once the coals and ashes have fully cooled, remember to sweep out your fireplace and keep it clean of any excess material. Store the ashes in a metal container away from any flammable substances and wait a few days for them to fully cool.
Once the ashes have fully cooled you can now dispose of them. Place them in a combustible box or bag and set them out with the rest of your garbage for collection!
Why Do We Use Baking Soda?
Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate which is one of the key ingredients used in fire extinguishers.
Sodium bicarbonate works by heating up and releasing a cloud of carbon dioxide that smothers the fire and deprives it of oxygen. This prevents the chemical reaction requirement of oxygen in a fire and shuts it right down!
That little sprinkle of baking soda is doing a lot more than we realize. Always keep some on hand for use in your fireplace and any other fire incidents you may come across!
Can You Leave A Fireplace Burning Overnight?
Although a fire will burn itself out eventually, you never want to leave a fire unattended. Fireplaces are typically safe, but just a single flying ember that lands on something combustible can cause major damage and even accidental fires. Don’t leave a live fire in your fireplace unattended.
We know that fires require both fuel and oxygen to continue to burn, so it makes sense that a fire in your fireplace will eventually burn out, right?
Some fireplaces are built to allow this safely, such as:
- Electric fireplaces (they don’t have an actual flame).
- Vented gas fireplaces.
- Wood stoves.
However, in your masonry-built fireplace that is open to your home, it is not recommended to leave your fire unattended. Wood cracks and pops, sometimes send embers and sparks into the house and you can’t be sure it won’t happen while you aren’t watching it.
Use the steps above and you will quickly put out any fire within a few minutes, saving yourself any hassle that a fire may cause when left unattended!