Uses For Wood Ash Around Your Home And Garden
By Morgan Slimak | Home
Wood ash is one of the most useful substances around the home and garden. It is beneficial in all sorts of different applications. The best part is that it’s incredibly cheap. If you have a wood burner in your home, you probably create tons of it every year as a result.
Instead of simply disposing of all that leftover ash though, here are alternative uses for wood ash that you’ve probably never considered before. From silver polish to skunk odor removal, you might be surprised by just how many random things wood ash is good for.
- Beekeeping Basics
Bees are in a vulnerable state right now so we have to do everything we can to protect them. Why not help them fend off potential invaders? A circle of wood ash spread around a beehive will prevent the ants from going in after the honey.
- Removing Hair Dye
It probably won’t take the color out of your hair, however, wood ash is great for removing dye stains from your scalp and skin. Rub the ash into the stain on your skin, rinse it, and repeat the process until it is gone.
- Relocating Ants
It’s clear that ants really hate wood ash, yet it’s not toxic enough to kill them. If you have a troublesome anthill in your yard, sprinkle a pile of wood ash on it. The ants should evacuate and move on to another location.
- Preserving Tomatos
According to a farmer in Africa, covering your tomatoes in ash after harvesting them will help to keep them from going bad. He stores his tomatoes in ash from banana trees and it keeps them from rotting for up to five or six months.
- Increasing Soil PH
If the soil in your garden is too acidic, wood ash can work to change its properties. It’s a substance with a very basic PH. Sprinkling it on the soil will help to balance things out.
- Food Seasoning
Wood ash can be used to season foods. Just load up some maple ash into a salt shaker and pour a little onto your next dish. The delicious smoky flavor will have you using it with every meal.
- Outdoor Fertilizer
Use wood ash in your yard or garden as a natural fertilizer. It still contains tons of minerals from the trees even after it has been burnt down to ash. Not to mention, it will help keep away the pests without any toxic side effects. A circle of wood ash around plants such as lettuce will keep any slugs from coming close.
- Cooking Ingredient
You might not know this, but there are actually hundreds of recipes out there that call for wood ash. It has been used in all sorts of traditional dishes for generations. For example, pretzels were originally made in lye water instead of being boiled with baking soda. Lye water is simply wood ash mixed into water and then strained.
- Potash Leavening
Another food application of wood ash is as a leavening agent. Before baking soda was invented, many Europeans processed wood ash into potash. Many traditional baked goods recipes list it as an ingredient.
- Making Compost
If you live in a rural area, a common problem is that animals such as bears can show up to check out your compost pile. Sprinkling wood ash on top of it will help to reduce the possibility of any unwanted visitors while also increasing the quality of the compost.
- Creating Cement
It won’t have quite as strong of hold as regular cement. However, wood ash cement is an easy-to-use primitive construction material. You can combine it with terra cotta. Check out this video for more information.
- Raising Farm Animals
Dusting a chicken or turkey with wood ash is a natural treatment for fleas as well as other annoying insects. The dust bath sounds counterintuitive, but it will actually provide a nice coating for all of the feathers. The birds will be less likely to acquire parasites afterward.
- Homemade Soap
The first soaps were made with a mix of wood ash, water, and animal fat. It’s thought that the recipe was discovered by accident when humans began cooking over fire. At some point, they realized just how useful the simple combination was.
- Melting Ice
If your driveway and sidewalks get slippery in the winter, don’t worry. Wood ash can help with that. Spreading it over icy surfaces will go a long way towards melting the ice. You just have to be careful not to accidentally track any ash inside afterward.
- Pottery Glaze
Wood ash has been used since ancient times as a glaze for pottery. The first wood ash glazes appeared in China around 3500 years ago. If you are into making pottery, why not try it out?
- Cleaning Glass
A wood ash scrub has a little more texture to it than traditional glass cleaners such as Windex. It is perfect for cleaning the glass door of a fireplace or even the dirty headlights on a car.
- Outhouse Deodorizer
Not many houses still have outhouses. However, if you own a rural property or a cabin that isn’t attached to the grid, you might. Tossing wood ash in a composting toilet will significantly reduce the stinky smell.
- Polishing Silver
Get your towel slightly damp and add a little wood ash to it. Scrub the silver with the cloth and it will come out looking sparkling new in no time. Ash can quickly reduce the tarnish of old pieces.
- Extinguishing Fires
Something avid campers all understand is just how useful wood ash is for putting out campfires. Bury your fire in wood ash before you leave the campsite to extinguish all of the remaining coals. There should be plenty of lying around!
- Oil Spills
If your car leaks oil on your driveway or garage floor, don’t fret. A little bit of wood ash can help to soak some of it up. It will absorb the oil before it permanently stains the concrete.
- Wound Cleaning
Wood ash is a good antiseptic and if spread on a wound, it can disinfect it. There are also studies that show it can speed up tissue repair and healing time. It is definitely a useful thing to have in your toolkit.
- Air Freshener
Similar to how people place a box of baking soda in the fridge to absorb odors, wood ash can do the same thing. Try leaving a dish of it in areas of your home that you want to deodorize, such as the kitchen. It works best if there are still a few decent sized pieces of charcoal in with the ash as well.
- Natural Desiccant
In the same way that wood ash can absorb odors, it can also dehumidify. A small open jar of it placed inside a humid cabinet or closet will prevent any mold from forming. Mold needs moisture to thrive.
- Stain Remover
Wood ash made into a paste works for cleaning surfaces much the same way that baking soda does. Although, we would recommend being a little careful with it. You don’t want to get wood ash on white fabric or anything like that.
- Manage Pond Algae
If you have any garden ponds or aquatic plants growing outside of your home, it’s important to keep the algae under control. One tablespoon of wood ash per 1,000 gallons of water will help to reduce algae growth while providing the plants important micronutrients.
- Making Cheese
Cheesemaking is an art form and something all cheese-makers understand is how beneficial wood ash is. Many kinds of cheese don’t grow well in acidic environments. A layer of wood ash prevents the growth of unwanted organisms and off-flavors.
- Saving Seeds
Storing seeds in wood ash works to prevent fungus and insects from arriving. It will keep them viable for a very long time. In the old days of agriculture, saving seeds every year was crucial if you wanted to stay alive.
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