If you have a fireplace, you’re probably wondering what to do with all the wood ash left behind. Instead of just throwing it away, surely there are other ways to use wood ash, right? Wood ash contains a variety of minerals such as sodium, sulphur, zinc, iron, etc. that can be used for different purposes in and around the home.
But first, store your wood ash in a fireproof metal container and then close the lid to choke any embers. It may take days or even weeks for the embers to fully die down, so make sure to place the container on dirt or concrete a few feet away from any combustible surface.
And now, for the fun part! From making your lawn happy to protecting your skin from the sun, here are 20 easy ways to reuse wood ash from your fireplace.
20 Creative Ways to Reuse and Recycle the Wood Ash in Your Fireplace
1. Make your lawn happy
Grass loves wood ash because it also contains calcium, magnesium, potassium (potash) and phosphorus, making it a great fertiliser. And you’ll love it because it’s free!
2. Give it to the birds
Many birds take dust baths because it helps control bugs, so leave a pile of ashes somewhere that the birds will find it.
3. Deter garden pests
Slugs and snails hate ash because it acts like shards of glass as they crawl on the dirt, so sprinkle it around your favourite plants.
4. Feed your fruit and vegetables
Tomatoes, carrots, apples, pears and most berries love a sprinkle of wood ash. The potassium regulates their water balance, which keeps them firm and juicy. Having enough potassium also makes plants more resilient to drought, frost and diseases. Just remember to keep it away from acid-loving plants like blueberries, pecans and sweet potatoes.
5. Banish algae
If you have any algae in ponds or water features, you can add just a small amount of wood ash to get rid of it, i.e. one tablespoon for every 1,000 gallons of water.
6. Destroy moss
If you have a moss problem in your lawn, dust the ash over all of it. While the grass will appreciate the extra nutrients, the moss should die.
7. De-freeze your walkways and driveway
If you live somewhere where you regularly get frost, sprinkle ash on your walkways and driveways. The alkaline nature of ash means that it helps to melt ice and provide traction. Plus, its dark colour attracts more heat from the sun.
8. Unclog your drains
Wet wood ash produces lye, which is used to make soap. Pour a cup of dry powdery ash into a clogged drain followed by a cup of heated water. Let the mixture sit for 2-3 hours to let the lye mix in with the oily residues, fat and grease inside the drain. Then flush the drain with water.
9. Get bigger blooms
Sprinkling ashes around the base of alkaline flowers such as roses, lilac and clematis can help them grow bigger blooms.
10. Repel lice, ticks and fleas off your pets
Make a thick paste of ash and vinegar and then spread it over your pet’s fur. It’s messy but you can rest assured that it’ll work.
11. Reduce or remove oil stains
Sprinkle some ash on oil or grease spills on surfaces made of asphalt, stone or cement. Then rub it in with a cloth and sweep it up!
12. Enrich your compost
Wood ashes add potash to the soil, so consider mixing it in your backyard compost pile. But only sprinkle on a layer, as raising the pH level too much can affect the bacteria and worms at work.
13. Clean things inside the home
Ash can be utilised to make a great cleaning agent by mixing it with enough water to form a paste called ‘lye water’. The mixture is abrasive so it’ll clean the glass in your stove or fireplace, remove water stains from glasses left on wood, get rid of dirt from your clothes, and polish your silverware.
14. Get rid of fridge odours
Put a plate of charcoal ash inside your fridge to rid it of any foul-smelling odours. Replace the charcoal until the smell is gone.
15. Remove indoor humidity
Place metal containers filled with charcoal ash in your cellar, cupboards and under the sink to remove moist air.
16. Filter liquids
You can use the charcoal that’s collected within the ash as a filter. Use it to filter blurry wine or water before drinking.
17. Keep those clothes moths away!
Wood ash can repel clothes moths, so add some on your stored clothes. If and when you need to use your clothes, just shake off the ash.
18. Get rid of insects and vermin
Spread some ash in the corners of your home or dark spots of your cellar to prevent mice, rats, cockroaches, and other insects from approaching your house. You can also throw some ash in an ant colony so they’ll have no choice but to relocate because the ash is too heavy for them to move.
19. Heal your wounds
Use wood ash in wounds to kill bacteria and make healing quicker. Simply melt handmade soap in lye water and rinse a wound with it.
20. Protect your skin from the sun
If you don’t have any sunscreen, simply rub some wood ash on your skin to block the sun’s rays and then you can head outside and enjoy the warm, sunny weather.
With so many ways to reuse wood ash, you no longer have to worry about just throwing it away and adding to the landfill. Grab that wood ash in your fireplace and put it to good use!