As winter comes to an end, you may find yourself with an excess of wood ash. A cord of firewood can produce 50 pounds of ash! Before you simply give that ash the toss, that heap of soot is actually a great source for mineral-rich dust that has many practical uses. Here we will give you our top twelve ways to recycle your ashes!
Before you begin using wood ashes around the home please be sure to keep these few things in mind:
- Be careful to store the ash in a fireproof container with the lid shut to choke any embers. Ash may feel cool to the touch, but buried embers can remain hot for days. A metal container for storage is best to keep the ash in and remember to place the container on a non-combustible surface such as dirt or concrete.
- Only use ashes from wood that is free of chemicals. Do not use ash from pressure-treated wood, painted or stained wood, charcoal, or briquettes.
- When handling wood ash, be sure to protect your eyes and hands! Take the same precautions as you would handling bleach. Wear gloves and eye protection.
- Never combine wood ash with nitrogen fertilizers such as urea. Doing this will produce ammonia gas!
A Dozen Different Ways to Use Wood Ash
1. De-skunk pets
Simply rub the ash on your pet’s coat in order to neutralize the lingering odor.
2. Remove oil stains from the garage or driveway
Wood ash is a desiccant, which means it can be used to clean up grease spills and remove stains from porous surfaces. Those big ugly grease stains can be a thing of the past! Simply sprinkle some ashes on the stain and allow it to settle for a few minutes. Then, sweep it up with a broom.
3. Enrich compost
Before mixing your compost with soil, enhance its nutrients by sprinkling in some ashes. Be careful not to add too much or you will ruin the mix! It should be sprinkled in at a rate of every 6 inches of compost.
4. Melt ice
Use your wood ash slowly over the course of winter as an ice melt. The minerals in wood ash work the same as salt to melt ice on driveways and walkways. It can also be used as added traction on frozen surfaces. Just be careful not to put too much near your front door, tracking ash into the house will make a big mess.
5. Block garden pests
Wood ash can be used as a natural deterrent for slugs and snails. Sprinkle the ash evenly around individual plants or along the perimeter of the entire plot. Try to avoid direct contact with your plants when applying the ash and remember to reapply after each rainfall.
6. Absorb odor
Baking soda isn’t the only option when it comes to neutralizing odors! Wood ash is also alkaline and can absorb and neutralize bad smells. Ash can be placed in a small bowl and left in the fridge or a smelly room. It should be replaced with new ash every few days.
7. Clean glass fireplace doors
If you add a bit of water to a small amount of wood ash, you have created an effective glass cleaner! Use a damp sponge dipped in the ash to scrub away sooty residue on your fireplace doors.
8. Make soap
The first soaps ever made were made in 2800 BC using a mixture of animal fats and wood ash! Soaking ash in water makes lye, which can be mixed with animal fat and boiled to produce soap. Then add salt to the mixture when pouring the molds to help harden. Check out this recipe for step-by-step instructions.
9. Treat your tomatoes
When planting your tomatoes, add 1/4 cup right in the same hole as the plant. This helps keep the calcium levels right where the tomato plant likes, and will keep those nasty black spots from forming on it!
10. Control pond algae
Using the right kind of math, the potassium in wood ash can boost rooted aquatic plants in pond making them better able to compete with algae. This helps slow the growth of algae! One tablespoon of wood ash per 1,000 gallons of water is the proper amount to enhance your pond’s potassium.
11. Use it on calcium-loving plants
Much like the formerly mentioned tomato plant, wood ash can be used as an excellent source of calcium for many other garden plants. Typically, eggshells are used to help boost calcium in the soil, but wood ash is an excellent replacement. Sprinkle wood ash sparingly and work into the soil around these calcium-lovers: carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, celery, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and apple trees.
Just be sure not to use wood ash on seedlings! Ash contains salts that will damage young plants.
12. Shine silver
Wood ash is mildly abrasive and can be used to polish tarnished silverware, dull metals, and cloudy glass (as we mentioned before). Create a paste of ash and water (1 cup of ashes and small amount of water). Spread the paste over whatever needs some shine. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes and then wipe away with a clean cloth. You’ll need to use a little elbow grease to buff and shine the piece out!
The best results are obtained from ashes that come from hardwoods like oak. These ashes have five times as many nutrients per cord as softwoods. We at Woodchuck Delivery specialize in hardwoods. You can’t have ash without wood to burn! Call us today at (512) 387-7270 or order online today to get started.