Company Blog

Fireplaces & Mental Health

At All Seasons Chimney, we’ve seen firsthand the mental benefits that a fireplace can provide for homeowners throughout the Poughkeepsie area. While many people may think of a fireplace as simply a source of heat during the colder months, it can be a source of comfort and relaxation all year round, as well.

Scientific Findings

a blue mug and open book in front of a fireplaceStudies have shown that sitting in front of a warm, crackling fire can have both physical and mental health benefits. One particular study at the University of Alabama saw over 250 test subjects experience lower blood pressure, feelings of increased happiness, and increased desire to connect with others.

Dr. Christopher Lynn, a medical and psychological anthropologist at the University of Alabama, conducted the study that took subjects and placed them in front of a video screen that showed a roaring fire. The first time through, subjects watched the fire without sound. Later, the crackling sound of the burning fire was added to the subject’s experience.

And the results? Dr. Lynn’s study showed that just viewing a fire caused physical reactions in the participants by lowering their blood pressure and helping them enter a relaxed state of gazing at the flickering light. When sound was added to the video, these benefits dramatically increased. These findings have led to more research and the evidence keeps suggesting that there are definite physical benefits to sitting in front of a fire.

These physical benefits naturally lead to many mental benefits, as well. When we experience healthy blood pressure levels and increased trance-like states of relaxing, we tend to experience less anxiety, better moods, and higher productivity levels too.

What This Means for Mental Health

During the colder months, there’s nothing quite like sitting in front of a roaring fire to chase away the chill. But the benefits of a fireplace go beyond just providing warmth.

a black dog looking melancholy by a fireplace🔥 Easing Stress & Worry

The heat from the fire can help to relax your muscles, ease tension, and promote a sense of calm. This can be especially beneficial for people who suffer from anxiety or depression, as it can help to reduce feelings of stress and worry.

It’s also helpful for those who have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), as it can help to alleviate feelings of discontent caused by lack of sunlight.

🔥 Creating Feelings of Community

Perhaps one of the most interesting findings from Dr. Lynn’s study was that participants experienced a desire to spend time with other people. Theories suggest that this is because of an innate sense of community that was born in our earliest ages as the human race.

When fire was first discovered by evolving humans, it became a central area for the community as it provided safety, warmth, and light. Today, a fireplace can serve as a focal point for your home, providing a sense of connection to the past and tradition. Sitting around a fire with loved ones can be incredibly bonding and can improve your relationships with those around you. 

🔥 Encouraging Contemplation & Reflection

Additionally, having a fireplace can improve the overall aesthetic of your home. The flickering light and crackling sounds of a fire can also provide a sense of tranquility and serenity, making it the perfect spot for quiet contemplation and reflection.

🔥 Relaxing Aesthetic

Even during the warmer months, a fireplace can be used to create a cozy ambiance in your home. Instead of using it as a source of heat, you can use it to create a relaxing atmosphere by adding candles or decorative logs. 

Reach Out to Our Experts Now

A fireplace can have a positive impact on mental health all year round. It can provide warmth and coziness during the colder months, serve as a focal point for your home, improve the overall aesthetic of your space, and more. 

With all these benefits, owning a fireplace is a no-brainer. That said, it’s important to remember that a fireplace must be properly maintained and operated in order to enjoy its benefits and to avoid any hazards.

At All Seasons Chimney, we highly recommend having your chimney inspected and swept annually to ensure that it is safer for use and working properly. If you’re considering adding a fireplace to your home or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced crew. We will be happy to provide you with the guidance and expertise you need to make the most of your fireplace.

Call 845-375-3640 or reach out online today!

Safely Scooping Fireplace Ash

It may surprise you that efficient fireplace use is not just about the fuel you use or heating system upgrades, though these are certainly important. But even what you do with that seemingly insignificant residue – the wood ash in your firebox – plays a part in using your fireplace for all its worth.

No matter the species of firewood you burn, your logs will leave behind ash, and too much ash in your firebox can hinder the goal of a hot, clear fire by restricting airflow to your logs. Which means regular removal is a must.

But before you reach for your shovel to empty out your firebox, keep these guidelines in line to get things done safely.

Leaving a Bit Behind – Yay or Nay?

Leaving some ash and embers at the bottom of your fireplace can assist with building future fires. Embers can remain hot for days and be used as an ignition source the next time you want to set logs ablaze, and the ash serves as a warm bed to keep them going.

a close up view of wood burning over hot coals and ashWood ash also insulates your firebox. This is advantageous when starting fires because it means that your fire won’t need to expend so much energy heating the surrounding brick before it can really take off and give you that hot, crackling fire you’re after.

There are some exceptions, though. If the level of ash in your fireplace becomes excessive, stands in the way of building a fire, or if your fires seem choked, it’s definitely time to clear out some ash.

Just remember to keep that happy medium. You don’t want too much ash accumulation, but you also don’t want to leave your fireplace bare (at least not until the end of the heating season). We suggest keeping about a one-inch layer of ash in to really boost those future fires.

Strategies for Safer Scooping

You may have guessed by now that scooping small amounts of ash more frequently is better than doing a few massive clean-outs a season. What’s critical to remember, though, is that live embers may be present in your ashes. These can stay hot enough to start a new fire for days, despite looking deceptively cool.

Because of this, practicing caution any time you’re working with or cleaning up after a fire is imperative. We’ve got some tips:

✓ Wait at least 24 – 72 hours after your last fire. This is the best way to ensure ashes are cool and makes the removal process safer all around.

✓ Use a sturdy metal fire shovel to remove ashes. Then, dispose of them in a non-combustible container, such as a metal bin, with a tightly fitting lid. This reduces the likelihood of oxygen reaching hot embers and reigniting them.

✓ Stay aware and alert. Be alert to the possibility that you may uncover live embers as you move ashes. And if you do uncover some, move these carefully to the back of your firebox rather than putting them in your metal container.

✓ Store the container outside. Once you’ve scooped ash to a desirable level (about an inch), remove the fireproof container from your home and store it away from any structure. Even if the ashes appear cool, any live embers can retain heat for days and rekindle if they’re near something flammable. 

Uses for Your Fireplace Ash

Not only can ash be used to insulate your firebox during the heating season, but once scooped and cooled, it has numerous uses in the home and garden, as well. Once cooled, keep these ideas in mind for putting your ash to good use.

  • a metal bucket with a pile of fireplace ash insideTraction on Ice: One immediate use is to provide traction in slippery winter conditions. Sprinkle ash on sidewalks and driveways to help keep your footing, or keep a small bag in the trunk in case it’s needed when you’re out and about.
  • Smothering Flames: Keeping a bucket of ash near your fire pit gives you a means to put out wayward sparks or embers close at hand. Like sand, ash can smother small fires.
  • Garden Growth: Mix wood ash with your compost to boost potassium and neutralize acidity. Your plants will thank you in the spring!
  • Soil Boost: Ash can also be used as a soil amendment, depending on your soil’s pH levels. Like lime, wood ash has a substantial calcium carbonate content.
  • Odor Neutralizer: Like baking soda, ash draws moisture and odors from the air. A small, open dish of it in a musty room or in your refrigerator will freshen air. It can also freshen up the fur of a pet who’s had an unfortunate skunk encounter!
  • Pest Deterrent: In the garden, ash can deter snails and slugs, which have a high water content in their bodies. They’ll be hesitant to cross a line of ash, so use it to circle those tempting veggies.
  • Cleaning: Surprisingly, ash has many applications in cleaning. It can help absorb an oil stain on your driveway, and since it’s a mild abrasive it can polish silver or remove soot from your glass fire doors when mixed with water to make a paste. If you’re crafty, you can even use it as a component in homemade soap!

Call Us in for Fireplace Maintenance

We know you want to use your fireplace for all it’s worth. Part of that includes the day-to-day maintenance of keeping those homey fires burning hot and steady. But expert maintenance at least annually will also keep your system in prime working order and can save you from experiencing advanced deterioration.

If it’s time for a routine chimney sweep, inspection, or maintenance, be sure to reach out to get on our schedule! Call 845-375-3640 or request an appointment online today.