15 Uses for Wood Ash

Wood ash is useful both in the garden and out!

15 Uses for Wood Ash

  1. Before starting each fire in your wood stove run a piece of paper towel under water, wring it out and then dab it in the ashes and scrub off the glass on the stove…it removes all the black soot like magic!
  2. The same method as above also works great for cleaning the glass doors in shower stalls. After wiping rinse and scrub down to remove any ash residue.
  3. If you live in a cold climate wood ashes are wonderful for dealing with icy pathways. Use the same way you would salt.
  4. In early spring sprinkle some ashes on top of the snow on your vegetable garden. The black ashes will help speed up the melting process and the potash (in small amounts) is good for the soil.
  5. Add ashes to the compost pile just before spreading it on the garden for best results. Some people argue that adding it to the compost while it’s still active prevents it from doing what it needs to do to break down. I apologize for the lack of science behind that statement! Ashes are alkaline so consider your soil before adding too much.
  6. Sprinkle ashes around plants such as Hostas or Brassicas to deter slugs.
  7. Sprinkle ashes around fruit trees; apple trees in particular benefit from an application every spring. The potash encourages firmer fruit.
  8. If you are having an aphid infestation wet the foliage and then dust the leaves with ashes. The next day rinse the ashes off. One application is usually all that is needed, but rinse and repeat in a week or so if necessary. Dry ashes can be dusted on plants as a preventative measure. Works well with tomatoes in particular.
  9. If you dye your own hair and get some hair dye on your neck, paper towel dabbed in ash will take it right off. The dye, not your neck.
  10.  Spread a layer of ashes in the bottom of your cat’s litter box and then cover with kitty litter. The ashes help absorb odor.
  11. Same method as above works great in chicken houses too. Put down a layer of ashes (Cold of course! You don’t want to burn down the hen-house) on the bottom and then top with straw. Chickens enjoy ashes for winter dust baths and some say it keeps them from being bothered by mites and lice.
  12. Put the charcoal chunks from the ash box into an old sock, pulverize with a hammer and hang in a crawl space or shed to help absorb excess moisture and odors. You can also fill a coffee can with crushed charcoal, punch holes in the plastic lid and use in the same manner.
  13. Put aside the charcoal chunks to use in your barbecue come summer.
  14. If you spill oil or paint on cement dump some ashes on top, let it sit for a while until the ashes have absorbed the mess and then sweep it up.
  15. And finally, you can mix ashes with water to make lye which in turn can be mixed with fat to make soap. Lye is very caustic so you will want to read several articles-or better yet-find a self-sufficiency mentor before tackling such a project on your own.

Organic Soap

Ashes should be stored in metal containers with a lid, such as a garbage can. If they get wet all the nutritional value will be lost. Always make sure the ashes are cold before transferring them from the stove to the container.