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I keep a trash can near the oven and shovel the coals into the can, put the lid on, and later retrieve the bigger pieces of charcoal for other uses. I typically burn for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours and simply let the logs burn down pretty much to chunks. I then break up any large pieces and spread the coals for a while. Then put the coals and most of the ash in the can.
(The following is more than you asked for but may be useful to others!)
At that point my hearth will be over 900. I then close the oven up and let it heat soak/equalize temperature through the refractory. About an hour and a half later the hearth temp will be around 575 to 600. At that point I swab the oven to remove the ash, spray some mist in with a dedicated "garden" sprayer (water only!), load the loaves, and mist a bit more water with the sprayer. Close and bake.
I use the charcoal on my regular grill and sometimes with the Tuscan grill inthe oven.
A metal trash can makes a fine coal repository. You want something with a lid so you can smother the fire, and re-use the charcoal. They still make the small ones that they used to use as garbage cans.
I usually dump the coals into a metal bucket half filled with water. Hot coals in any container are a safety hazzard, do you have little kids? The hot coals also tend to destroy the galvanized coating on your container. Most of the energy has gone once they are coals anyhow, feel how light they are. We throw our coals into the compost, they're great for the soil.
I've been tossing them - after they cool, of course - into the garden/compost area too. But I have to assume that after a while that's going to do a number on the soil.
I like the hardware cloth and the water suggestions. I've been using a metal pail, just like the one pictured. And yes, the alum. galvanizing is taking a hit. One issue I have is that as I put the coals into the pail, I do get smoke, especially if I have to douse it with water a bit. And that has me worried about what neighbors will feel as the smoke drifts their way. So far so good...
I get quite a bit of charcoal. I door the oven as soon as I am done, and it is a pretty tight fit. I cook with the charcoal, too. The ash can is a hazard to kids, so I generally pull it around the side when hot.
Well, I for one, don't have children involved very often and i appreciate your comments for with children should be different. I tend to agree with Kim and simply tell them to stay away when purging the oven!
I have a dump area where I put the ashes. They can actually be really helpful if you have acid soil. Unfortunately my soil is basic so I can't use much in my compost but if you think you have acid soil it would be worth checking out and learning how much you can use....
It is the ash that is strongly alkaline, the coals are ok. I usually pour out the water which takes the soluble alkalinity out too. Leaves which break down in compost are generally acidic, so it can be a good way to balance them.
I usually want to fire the oven back up for pizza after my bake so I just shovel the coals into my charcoal barbecue grill and close the cover. It's easier to shovel them back after the bake than it would be if they were in a pail or trashcan. I was glad discover a use for my barbecue since, once I tried a steak on my Tuscany grill in the oven, I doubt I'll ever use the barbecue again.
I usually have partial logs as well as ashes. It all goes in the barbecue.