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I Forge Iron

Charcoal ash build up

Joe Davidson

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Hey everyone,


At the present I am using a forge like those that smithed 1000 years prior to now. Yep, a good old lovely hole in the ground.

All that my set up is currently is a hole, a side draft pipe with air source, and charcoal.


This is working well, apart from the squatting that takes place to tend the fire. I have however hit a problem. The ash that is made by the charcoal as it burns slowly builds up to the point were the fire struggles to burn as it begins to be smothered. At the present this takes about two hours to occur.


So is there any way to combat this without destroying the fire, removing the ash and starting again?


I apologise if this question has already been asked, just let me know.




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Part of maintaining a fire is removal of the ash and impurities (clinker) that are obstructing the air flow.  The other option (short term) would be to extend the height of the forge so the ash and clinker are not an issue.


You do not destroy the fire but simply rake the hot embers off to the side, remove the ash and clinker, then move the hot embers back into the hole and add more fuel. 

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I sometimes use a charcoal side-blast, and the only time I have trouble with ash build up is when I let the fire get lazy. If I get distracted away from the forge and just let it smolder, the ash will accumulate. If it's not too bad, I can stir the fire with a poker while blasting it hard with air and it will clear out pretty good. If I've let it go too long I'll just shovel it out except for a few good coals and build it back. I do like a clean fire.

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What's the distance from the tuyere to the bottom of the forge?


With a bottom blown forge I crank the blower really hard every once in a while to blow out ash---not a nice thing and not suggested in very dry locales.


Also I made a shovel out of rock shaker screen that I can shovel out the fire, shake ash and fines out and clean the forge and then dump the fire back in and continue.

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Thank you everyone for the brilliant ideas


I'll try some of them and see what works for me.


@Thomas, thanks for your fire shaking shovel idea, I think I most definitely will give that a crack.


I reckon that I will try to combine a number of the advice together too, I think it boils down to just staying alert and aware of the fires conditions, and not letting the ash build up to much.


Thanks for all the advice.

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