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Fireplace Tools - A Guide

Updated on August 1, 2009

The fireplace has been in the homes of mankind for generations. For as long as there's been fireplaces, there have been fireplace tools to help maximize the fireplace's effectiveness. Over the centuries these fireplace tools have become more durable, sophisticated, and aesthetically pleasing. With all different shapes and sizes from shovels, tongs, pokers, and brushes, there's a tool for any fireplace operation of maintenance need.

What are Fireplace Tools?

Fireplace tools are any instrument used to manipulate the fireplace's fuel before, during, or after use, cleaning, or any other fireplace related activity. As you can imagine this is a pretty vague description. However there are so many fireplace tools, and so many variations of each veriety, that an all encompassing definition is difficult. Here are some examples of the more common fireplace tools:

Fireplace tools come in many different styles and finishes.
Fireplace tools come in many different styles and finishes.
  • Pokers. These fireplace tools are long, rigid rods made of fireproof, or at least fire resistant, material used to manipulated coals or other fireplace fuels. Pokers are most often implemented while the fire is still active, poking and prodding the hot coals into better position for burning. There is evidence of even the most ancient of peoples using fireplace pokers!
  • Tongs. Fire tongs share much the same function as fireplace pokers. The user simply grasps the hand and squeezes when the desired object is in between the grabbing arms. Fire tongs are useful for more delicate fuel manipulation, as you can quite literally pick up and place hot coals where ever you want them. Take care however, as fire tongs tend to be shorter than fireplace pokers.
  • Shovels and Brushes. Shovels and Brushes are two of the most useful fireplace tools. As a fireplace is used, ash and other debris will start to build up on the bottom. Fireplace shovels and brushes feature special long, rigid handles that allow the user to reach deep into the fireplace and remove all the trapped ash. As fireplace ash can remain extremely hot for a very long time, fireplace shovels and brushes also feature insulated handles on high quality models.
  • Bellows. Bellows are an interesting piece of fireplace equipment. A bellows is basically a collapsible, airtight container with two handles and a spout at one end. As the handles are pulled apart, air is pulled into the now de-collapsing chamber. When the handles are pushed back together, air is forced out of the now re-collapsing chamber and out of the spout. This allows for a pinpoint jet of air to be shot where ever the user chooses. Bellows are used to stoke fires.

Fireplace Tool Tips and Tricks

This device, called a grabber, is a mix of the fire tong and poker.
This device, called a grabber, is a mix of the fire tong and poker.

Like any set of tools, there are certain operation and care tips and tricks that must be learned to use them at their best. Fireplace tools are certainly no exception to this rule. Fireplaces can be very dangerous if not treated with the respect they deserve, and the same can be said of their tools. Here are a few tips on purchasing and using your new fireplace tools:

  • When purchasing your fireplace tools for the first time, consider buying them as a set. Many home and garden stores will carry the individual tools, but will more likely have a much wider selection of fireplace tool sets. Fireplace tool sets also have the design advantage of matching perfectly right out of the box!
  • Be aware that when in use, fireplace tools such as pokers and shovels can become extremely hot! Be sure to place these items back on their rack properly when done using them. A hot poker tip can easily catch loose bits of paper or other household debris on fire, or burn a hole in your favorite chair!
  • Avoid kicking up excess ash and dust when cleaning your fireplace by using slow, steady movements. Sudden moves create fast moving air, which in turn will put ash and other fireplace debris into the air. By merely taking your time, you can severely cut down on indoor air pollution when cleaning your fireplace.
  • Always put all of your fireplace tools away properly when you are done with them! Almost all fireplace tools are going to be made of metal. As such, these tools can be quite dangerous if just left strewn about the home. Take the time to pick them up, and avoid a potentially life threatening accident!


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