During the winter months, cleaning out the wood stove becomes a regular occurrence if it is used as the primary heating source.
You’ll soon be emptying your ashtray once or twice a week.
Where, though? Where does one put that much ash?
Let’s help you get rid of some of those buckets of gray powdery waste. Even if you only implement some of these recommendations, you should have a much smaller pile of ashes to deal with in the spring.
Be aware that chemically treated wood, including pressure treated, stained, or painted wood, is not suitable for burning and is therefore not included in this list. If you wouldn’t roast a hot dog over the fire it came from, you shouldn’t be using it in your home.
Ash made from softwoods, such as pine, is softer than ash made from hardwoods, although softwoods tend to have more nutrients.
Burning embers can maintain their high temperatures for several days. When using wood ash around the house, wait until it has cooled fully.
Wear protective gloves when handling wood ash because it contains acids. Take considerable caution while making or using lye from wood ash, as it is also caustic and can cause severe burns if handled improperly.
Wood Ash Uses In the Garden
Keep your ash in a dry place before using it in the garden.
Calcium, potassium, magnesium, and other trace elements are just few of the many that are present in wood ash because they were also present in the original tree.
Any minerals that are soluble in water will be washed away if it is left out in the rain.
To add insult to injury, acid-loving plants like potatoes, blueberries, hydrangeas, azaleas, and rhododendrons should not be grown on soil amended with wood ash.
Correct Acidic Soil
The acidity of soil can be reduced by adding wood ash to the mix.
The University of California, Davis’s Cooperative Extension suggests using these ashes to raise the pH of acidic soil.
Before adding ash to your soil, you should check its pH level, although the Cooperative Extension recommends using 5-10 pounds for every 100 square feet.
Since it can be tilled straight into the soil, this should be done just before planting. Wood ash can burn the sensitive leaves of young plants, so be sure to rinse the plants well after applying the ash to the soil.
Improve the Quality of Your Compost
Add some ash to your compost pile to supercharge it, since it will enhance the nutrient-rich microbial ecosystem that is now brewing in your compost.
Charcoal pieces, being porous, add oxygen to your compost, which in turn makes for extremely happy bacteria.
Because charcoal is so porous, it is able to absorb and retain the minerals in the ash, preventing them from being washed away by rain.
Keep Bears Away from Your Compost
For example, Ashley from Practical Self Reliance suggests using wood ash to prevent bears from mistaking your compost pile for a free meal.
Wood ash is alkaline, so remember to use it sparingly. Try out different amounts using a trowel, and think about using a pH kit to make sure you’re happy with the results.
Prevent Slimy Snails and Slugs from Entering Your Home
While snails and slugs may look adorable, they may cause serious damage to a plant if left unchecked. Seeing your cabbages twisted and laced like Battenberg is one of the most disheartening sights you can encounter.
Make a ring of ash around your plants if you don’t want to see any more of the slimy little creeps.
Bust Blossom End Rot
When you notice a black spot at the base of your beautiful tomatoes, you know it’s the start of blossom end rot and you might as well start crying.
Prevent it from happening by supplementing sensitive plants with calcium at the beginning of the growing season.
Throw a handful of wood ash into the planting hole before you drop in your tomato, squash, cucumber, or pepper plant.
Put a stop to Pond Algae
Feed your aquatic plants potassium-rich wood ash to give them an advantage. In turn, they will grow, leaving the algae without the food it needs to stay alive. Goodbye, algal bloom!
A little goes a long way when it comes to using ashes in the pond. Off the Grid News recommends one spoonful per 1,000 gallons of water.
If you’re not sure how much water you have, start with a little and wait a few days before adding additional ash.
Protect crops against frost damage
When the temperatures begin to drop in the fall, nothing strikes fear into the heart of a gardener faster than the danger of frost.
To avoid frost damage, just dust your plants with powdered wood ash.
Livestock, poultry, and pets
In the same way that diatomaceous earth kills mites, fleas, and lice, chickens dust bathe to control pests. Adding ashes to their dust bath helps to kill creatures like mites, fleas, and lice.
With a few trowels of ash placed over their bathing area, you may give your birds a spa treatment.
Powder Your Pets
Similarly, rubbing ashes into your dog’s or cat’s coat can kill fleas while also deodorizing their fur.
Dogs are easier to train than cats. But give it a shot if you have a very docile cat or a good set of thick leather gauntlets. Best wishes!
Don’t Just Stop There
This approach is also effective with livestock. Dust a little wood ash on your goats, cows, donkeys, bunnies, and other industrious members of your homestead to help keep pests at bay for them as well. They’ll be happier and healthier as a result.
Deodorize Your Chicken Coop
To keep your chicken coop fresh, lay down a thick layer of wood ash, complete with charcoal lumps, before adding whatever litter you use on top. This is especially effective with the deep-litter approach.
A Brita for Your Birds and Bunnies
The charcoal in your wood ash can be used to prevent algae and other waterborne diseases in your rabbit water bottles or chicken waterer.
Replace it on a regular basis with a fresh piece of charcoal.
Increase Your Hen’s Laying Power
Wood ash is a great way to increase your flock’s feed, as suggested by the lovely Lisa at Fresh Eggs Daily.
In exchange, you can expect higher lay rates and longer laying times.
Mix 1% wood ash into your chicken feed. She claims that doing so can even help lessen the exhaust odor.
Control Litter Box Odor
Once again, the odor-absorbing capacity of charcoal comes to the rescue.
Although commercial clay litters are now the norm, prior to their development, cat owners typically used wood ash. To revitalize stale cat litter, simply add a cup of ashes and a few small pieces of charcoal and stir.
Even if you have a herd of cats, keep your house smelling fresh.
Undo a Skunk Encounter
It’s every dog owner’s greatest fear, and it always seems to happen at night, just as you’re about to go to bed.
No matter what you use to wash your pet, the odor usually persists. Wood ash can be worked into your wildlife ambassador’s fur after a bath and drying. If there was anything left after using soap, that should fix it.
Around the Home
Don’t go too far with the ash bucket when cleaning out the wood stove. It has numerous use around the house.
Cleaner for Fireplace Glass
Glass doors of a fireplace or woodstove can become discolored with creosote, obscuring your view of the magnificent dancing flames.
Scrub the creosote away using a damp sponge or cloth dipped in the powdery ash.
Allow your woodstove or fireplace to totally cool before cleaning the glass.
Cleaner for Glass Top Stoves
You may use the same procedure to clean your glass top stove. Make a paste with the ash and a little water for stubborn, cooked-on muck.
You’ll want to make sure there are no charcoal bits in your paste, so use only fine powdery ash.
Keep your silver shining
Wood ash can be used to make the task of cleaning silver a bit less tedious.
Make a thick paste with the fluffy white ash and water.
Smear the paste onto your silver item and let it to sit for a few minutes before wiping it clean.
Goodbye, tarnish; hello, shine!
Buff your silver with a dab of ash on a felt cloth, then rinse and dry well. The same method can be used to polish brass.
Clean Your Silver Jewelry
Before you throw that ash-covered cloth in the washing machine, use it to clean dingy-looking silver jewelry.
For necklaces, pinch the chain lightly between your fingers using the ash-coated flannel piece, then pull the chain through your fingers. A few passes can restore your jewelry’s dazzling white luster. With the cloth, rub and polish the other pieces, adding more ashes as needed.
After polishing your jewelry, make sure to wash and dry it.
Refresh Your Fridge/Freezer
Wood ash absorbs odors in much the same manner that baking soda does. Except you already have an abundance of it and don’t need to go out and get it.
Use around a cup of wood ash, along with several bits of charcoal. Place it in a tin can or a tiny paper bag in the back of your refrigerator or freezer. To keep it fresh, change it frequently.
If your fridge already stinks, replace the wood ash every few days until the odor is gone.
Keep Mice and Other Household Pests at Bay
Something about ashes repels mice, rats, cockroaches, and other typical home pests.
Use this all-natural pest control method to keep pests out of your home without the use of hazardous or harmful chemicals. Sprinkle it in the attic, garage, basement, and pantry corners.
Because of its similarity to baking soda, wood ash is an excellent desiccant.
To remove moisture from the air, place tin cans packed with wood ash in damp, musty corners of your home and garage. Make sure you have charcoal particles mixed up with your ashes as well.
If your current batch of homemade wine is cloudy, use the charcoal from your wood ash as a filter. Fill an empty sterilized carboy halfway with a sterile funnel equipped with a coffee filter and a handful of charcoal particles. Over the charcoal, rack your wine into the new carboy. Cheers!
Safeguard Wool and Other Fine Fabrics
Give garments and blankets a little dusting of powdered wood ash before storing them for the season to keep moths at bay.
When you take them out of storage, simply brush off the ash and launder as usual.
Protect Your Fiber Stockpile
Any knitters’ heart would skip a beat whenever they see a moth in their home.
If left to their own devices, those little winged troublemakers can devastate your lovely fiber. You can keep your valuable stash as safe as your stored garments.
If you intend to store your yarn or roving for a period of time before using it, pat it down with some ash. Simply brush or shake it off when you’re ready to knit or spin. It can be easily removed when the twisted yarn is blocked.
Beauty and Health
Before the widespread usage of wet-and-dry hair care routines, wood ash was a popular alternative. Begin with a small amount of powdery ash, a pinch or two, and apply it to your part. To use, simply massage the ash into your hair and scalp like you would with shampoo. Having a nice scruffle through your hair will help. After letting the wood ash soak up the excess oil for a few minutes, you can flip your head over and shake it out. The final step is to brush your hair out.
For millennia, wood ash has been used to cure wounds.
It is thought to have antimicrobial qualities as well as the ability to speed up clotting. There was even a scientific study released in 2009 by ISRA University that indicated that wounds (to a rabbit) treated with wood ash healed faster than those that were not.
Even if you don’t want to attempt it personally, it can come in helpful for your livestock in a situation.
Wood Ash Toothpaste
Yes, you may use this to wash your teeth. However, in this scenario, ash from a soft tree, such as pine, would be preferable.
This is fantastic news for hunters who want to disguise their odor. Take a handful and apply it on any exposed skin (avoiding your face and eyes). Patting it into your clothing will also help.
Natural Tick Repellent
You may use wood ash to protect yourself when you’re out in the woods in the same way that it helps your pets and other animals stay pest-free. Granted, you’ll appear ghostly, but ghostly is preferable to Lyme disease any day.
Apply in the same way as described above, but you may also want to apply to your bare arms and legs.
Around the Homestead
Outside the home, there are numerous applications for wood ash. You should keep a couple buckets around the yard for emergencies.
Ash is a cheap fire extinguisher because it smothers flames and deprives them of oxygen. You should maintain a few buckets on hand in places where a fire could quickly start, such as a blacksmith shop, welding setup, fire pit, or hay storage.
The Best Friend of a Blacksmith
If you work in a blacksmith shop, keep a large can of ash on hand to use in the annealing of steel. The ash would act as insulation, allowing the metal to cool slowly.
Natural Charcoal Briquettes
When it comes to blacksmithing, if you sift your wood ash, you’ll get charcoal that you can use in a coal forge or to cook hamburgers on the grill.
When it comes to grilling, wood ash saves the day and makes cleanup a breeze.
Make a thick paste with ash and water and liberally apply it to your grill’s grates and insides. The ash and water will combine with the grilled animal fats to form a natural soap.
Allow them to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing them. Rinse well with water. You should use gloves for this task because natural soap can be quite drying.
Create a Mini Root Cellar
Ash is an excellent insulator and the ideal filling for a mini-root cellar. Dig a hole in the ground and fill it with a few inches of ash. Place your produce in it, making sure none of it touches. Layer more ash on top, then repeat.
It’s similar to preparing a large dirty cake!
Cover with a piece of wood and a good covering of ash, and enjoy your crop well into the winter months.
Save Seeds for the Next Year
Seeds that have not been properly stored lose viability and will not germinate. It is critical to store seeds in an insulating and moisture-absorbing media. To reduce moisture and safeguard your seeds, add ashes to whichever container you are storing them in.
Clean up any oil spills in the garage
If you’d like to be able to change the oil in your car without making a mess or spilling oil on the concrete just once. You can sponge up oil spills with wood ash. Then sweep it up and properly dispose of it.
How to Hide Stains in Concrete
After you’ve cleaned up your small oil spill, apply another coating of ash and scrape it into the concrete. Ash is excellent for concealing stains and discolouration on concrete.
Pottery Glaze from the Woodstove
Wood ash can be used to make a glaze for pottery. These glazes are traditionally from East Asia.
Encourage Ants to Relocate
Dumping ashes on an ant hill will encourage the little pests to leave and find a new home. They are unable to move the ash and must thus leave the nest.
Pet-Friendly Ice Melt
This winter, keep your sidewalks and pets safe. When the ice starts to build up, scatter wood ash on your walkways to melt it. You’ll have clear walkways without having to worry about using an ice-melting solution that could injure your dogs.
A word of caution: you should implement a “no shoes in the house” policy because this might get messy.
Wood Ash in the Kitchen
Garnish with wood ash
Try a wood ash garnish at your next dinner gathering. Chefs at some trendy restaurants sprinkle ash on their food to give a smokey flavor and as a visually appealing garnish.
While I love this idea, I would urge you to ensure that the wood you have torched has not been chemically treated, painted, stained, or otherwise altered. If you wouldn’t cook over a fire with that wood, you shouldn’t sprinkle it on your food.
The process of steeping corn in an alkaline solution is known as nixtamalization. This solution can be made with wood ash and hot water. Native Americans utilized this method to make hominy, and some people still do. The same method is used to process corn for tortillas and tamales throughout Mexico and Central America. There are numerous instructions available on the internet for the experimental chef.
Save the ashes if you want to start making cheese. Because of the alkaline qualities, certain cheese rinds are produced with ashes to protect the cheese as it ages while also increasing the flavor.