In keeping with my last post about green buildings, tonight I’ve been thinking about wood ash uses. We burn a lot of wood in our fireplace, and very little cardboard and never any plastic or toxic materials. This means that our wood ash is safe to use in various garden and home applications.
So long as you practice clean (no plastic, etc) burning, there are so many things you can do with wood ash, don’t just toss it away — since you have to save it for at least a few days anyways (to make sure all those little coals have completely died out) you might as well let your fireplace continue to pay for itself.
The Wonderful World of Wod Ash
Things you can do with your ashes:
1. Mix it with water to create lye, which you can mix with fat and use to make natural soap.
2. Carry a shoebox filled with fine ash in your trunk to get your car out of an icy parking spot — just sprinkle a handful for a foot or so in front of the tires.
3. Use it on your driveway for safe de-icing/traction.
4. Sprinkle it in your chicken coop or animal stalls under bedding to counteract urine odors and keep away insects
5. Make small piles or little bowls of ash in your poultry run for your birds to dustbathe in. They LOVE it, it’s safe, and it’ll keep them free of mites and lice.
6. Use up to 40% wood ash in your cement and mortar mixes without compromising concrete strength while adding some flexibility. There’s tons of specific research about this online for serious building applications.
7. Spread around your garden areas to keep away bugs and slugs. Don’t use it on alkaline soils.
8. Sprinkle near the roots of calcium loving plants like roses and tomatoes. Don’t use it on acid loving plants.
9. Mix small amounts with your compost to boost nutrient values (generally no more than 10-20%, unless you are trying to change your soil ph.)
10. Control pond algae. One tablespoon per 1,000 gallons adds enough potassiumm to strengthen other aquatic plants that compete with algae, slowing its growth.
11. Clean your sooty glass fireplace doors by using a damp sponge dipped in your ashes.
12. Make a paste with water to shine silver and scrub pots.
13. The same ash can neutralize odor in the coop, makes it wonderful for those times when your pets get sprayed by a skunk and you’ve run through all the tomato juice in the pantry — just rub a handufl right into your dog’s coat.
14. Ants coming in the house. Sprinkle the wood ash around the house as a barrier/deterrent. Also on any nests you want to get rid of.