While a wood burning fire can add warmth to your home during the cold months of winter, it also creates piles and piles of ash. In fact, burning a full cord of wood can produce as much as 50 pounds of ashes! Rather than just throwing them away, consider using your ashes in an alternative way.
Ashes are a mineral rich substance that can be used in a variety of ways both inside and outside your home. The following are some of our favorite alternative uses for fireplace or stove ashes; using your ashes in a new way turns trash into a valuable product that can be used throughout your home.
Ash is natures deicer. During wintry conditions, sprinkle ashes on your driveway, sidewalk, stairs, or other slippery areas to melt the ice and create traction. Likewise, carrying a small box ashes in the car can be a useful tool to move a vehicle stuck in an icy patch. Using ashes instead of salt eliminates chemical runoff and is safer for pets and small children; however, it is extremely important to remember to wipe your shoes!
Block garden pests.
Sprinkling ashes around the borders of a garden plot or flower bed can create a natural barrier against slugs and snails.
Add alkalinity to your lawn.
Because of its alkaline nature, wood ashes can also be used to change the pH of your soil. Small amounts of high quality ashes can be added to soil; only a small amount is needed to enrich your soil.
If your dog or cat has had an unfortunate run in with a skunk, ashes can help eliminate the small and get life back to normal without the added time and trouble of going to the store to buy tomato juice. Rubbing small amounts of ash into the dog’s fur can quickly eliminate the offensive odors.
Make your own soap.
If you’ve never made your own soap, having an excess of ash can help you along in the process. Soaking ashes turn them into lye; this can then be mixed with animal fat and boiled to produce homemade candles.
Control pond algae.
If algae is making over your pond, fountain, or water feature, use ashes to control its spread. Adding 1 tablespoon per 1,000 gallons of water can give competing plants enough potassium to compete against the algae growth.
Whether you are storing your ashes to use around your home or are waiting to dump them out with the trash, it is important that they are stored in a fireproof container. Because “wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days, it is important that they are stored in an airtight metal container. Well-designed ash containers should sit off of the ground as well as have long handles for carrying. Ash containers should never be stored near any combustible materials; this means keep your ashes out of the garage and away from woodpiles and buildings. Correctly storing ashes is another way to reduce the risk of accidental fire.