No matter how efficient the fuels we use in our fireplaces are, there will always be some ash left over when we have finished enjoying a fire. Luckily recycling doesn’t just apply to plastic cartons and cans. As wood ash is so rich in important minerals like calcium carbonate and potassium, there are all sorts of ways that we can re-use it around the house and garden.
In this post we suggest some innovative uses for wood ash that you may never have considered.
1. Put it to work in your garden
Supercharge your compost by adding your recycled ash. Growing plants need plenty of the trace elements that it contains, and it will actually increase the PH of your soil as ash is naturally alkaline. This will allow you to grow plants like lavender and honeysuckle that are much loved by bees and wouldn’t be able to thrive in more acidic soils.
What’s more, if you have problems with slugs and snails, sprinkling ash around your plants will deter these creatures without having to use lethal poisons or expensive salt.
2. Freshen up a pungent hound
Who knows why they do it, but some dogs can’t resist enhancing their natural aroma by rolling in all sorts of smelly substances. Country walks can be a challenge with everything from manure heaps to fresh fox droppings to be sniffed out. If you haven’t got the time or the means to give your pet a proper bath you can actually remove the worst of the smell by rubbing them down with ash, which naturally absorbs odours. This will at least make the car journey home bearable.
3. Make soap
Perhaps this is one for the more dedicated rustic up-cycler, but did you know that you can make a very effective soap with the simple ingredients of hardwood ash mixed with rainwater and a natural fat like lard or coconut oil. As it contains no abrasive chemicals the soap that is produced is excellent for dry or sensitive skins.
4. Clean your wood burner glass
Continuing the theme of cleanliness, did you know that ash is one of the best substances for cleaning the black residue off the glass of your wood burner? Simply moisten a cloth or newspaper and then dip it in some ash residue that you can then rub on the glass. The ash acts as a mild abrasive and you will be amazed how effective it is.
5. De-ice your driveway
With our erratic UK climate, we never know from year to year what kind of winter we are going to have. For those snowy years it is a good idea to keep a bucket of wood ash handy for those occasional days when you are struggling to get your car the short distance from your garage to a gritted road. Just like salt, ash is high in potassium which melts ice and helps to provides grip for your car’s tyres.
6. Dehumidify the natural way
Another property of ash is that it is hygroscopic. This means that it is very good at absorbing moisture from the air around it. Rather than buying expensive commercial products, a small tray of ash placed in a musty smelling wardrobe or room will absorb excess moisture until you are able to resolve the issue.
Even with all the uses for ash, if you want to reduce the amount that you generate you should only burn high quality kiln dried logs. As these have such a low moisture content they produce a limited amount of fine, dry dust. This is so much easier to sweep up and dispose of than the sticky tar that is left behind when you burn damp or insufficiently seasoned logs.