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Do you heat your house with wood? What to do with the ashes is a question for most. Obviously, you want to take great care to dispose of them in a way that won’t start a fire, but did you know that the ashes have all sorts of uses?
Here’s an article from my friend Lizzie Bennett of the former website Underground Medic, where this was originally published.
18 Uses For Wood Ash
Wood ash is suitable for much more than the compost heap.
Wood ash is composed of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, but also contains trace amounts of iron, manganese, sodium, boron, zinc, copper, and molybdenum. As it’s alkaline, you need to handle it with care (especially when it’s wet) and never mix it with nitrate-based fertilizers or you’ll produce ammonia gas!!
Did you know that:
- Putting wood ash on an ants nest forces them to relocate…the ash seems to cause them problems so they pack and leave.
- A pan of ash in the corner of a basement or other dark area will deter mice and roaches. I’ve never tried this one but I’m assured by a friend that it works.
- Decent sized lumps of wood charcoal will filter impurities out of water. A lot of water filters out there actually rely on different forms of processed wood ash for such.
- Wood ash in a metal or ceramic container will dehumidify a damp space very well.
- Putting ash on a fire will snuff the flames instantly. We actually keep a decorative bucket of it near the fireplace just in case an ember hits the carpet.
- Neutralize acidic soil by adding wood ash to the ground. You don’t want to use this around tender, young plants though, as it’s too potent and will kill them off.
- Sprinkling wood ash around the edge of a young plant bed will deter slugs and snails from having a midnight feast. These slimy pests don’t like the drying effect ash has on their undersides. Make sure to re-apply after rain.
- At up to 70%, calcium carbonate wood ash can replace lime in a pinch.
- If you keep chickens, ash mixed with sand makes a great dust bath for the birds.
- You can even make soap from wood ash. Here’s a recipe you may want to give a try.
- Ash on paths and driveways both prevents slipping and melts ice. It’s messy as can be though, so make sure you have a mat by the front door for boots to be wiped on before coming indoors. A bag of ash in the trunk is also great for giving some grip if you get into a wheels-spinning-but-going-nowhere situation.
- The mildly abrasive nature of ash makes it excellent for cleaning up dull silver, other metals, and cloudy glassware. Make a thick paste and rub lightly. Leave the goop on for a few minutes and then polish off. Always wear gloves when you’re doing this though – ash is caustic.
- Wood ash neutralizes bad smells. This means it’s great for home gyms, sheds, garages, or anywhere that teenagers congregate. Make sure you replace with fresh ash every few days.
- Ash can blot up oil stains on drives and floors. Put the ask on the stain, stomp it in, leave for a few minutes and brush up.
- If your four-legged friend got too close to a skunk help all you need is some ash. Rub the ash into the dogs coat, let him run around a while, and then brush him. This is the less tomato-y means of eliminating eau de skunk.
- You can use ash to control algae in your pond. Just 1 tablespoon of ash per 1000 gallons of water improves the robustness of aquatic plants and inhibits algae growth.
- Ash can clean glass on oven and wood stove doors. Make a thick paste, slap it on, and wait a while. Scrape off the excess and then polish.
- Clean your teeth with pure wood ash – not ash from painted, varnished or treated wood. Clean your teeth with a dab of ash on the brush, rinse well and feel how clean they are. Just be aware that there can be negative health effects from long-term use of ash in this way.
Are there other uses for ashes?
What do you think though? Are there other uses for ash that we didn’t cover in this list? Have you ever used ash for any of the above purposes? Let us know in the comments below!
And if you’re looking for advice on other alternative uses for everyday items, make sure you check out some of our other awesome articles listed below too!