How many of us use wood as the main heating source? I’m sure there’s one thing we all have in common: we don’t know what to do with ash and simply throw it out.
What else could you do? Well, believe it or not, there are so many different wood ash uses not only in the home but also in the garden and yard.
This humble byproduct is rich in minerals and has way more to offer than just a warming glow and crackling sound!
Let’s unleash the power of wood ash!
You know how they say, don’t play with fire! You need to know a couple of things before you use wood ash for any of the purposes described below.
First and foremost: wood ash must be from clean wood! This means that the wood shouldn’t be treated with any chemicals. This includes pressure treated, stained, and painted wood.
You also need to know that hardwood, such as maple or walnut, has more nutrients than softwood. Still, softwood, such as redwood and pine, gives softer ash.
I’m sure you already know that embers need a couple of days to cool completely. Do not use ash for any purpose until it’s entirely cold. Also, please wear gloves every time you handle ash because it can be caustic.
Wood Ash Uses In The Garden
We’ll start our journey with potential wood ash uses in our gardens. The first thing to do after you collect your ash is store it properly. This means that you should not leave it in the rain.
This byproduct contains water-soluble minerals from the trees it’s derived from. It can contain magnesium, potassium, or calcium, depending on the type of tree.
If you leave it in the rain, it will lose these minerals and won’t have any effect.
Another thing to bear in mind is not to use this residue on acid-loving plants, such as azaleas, hydrangeas, potatoes, or cranberries.
1. Fix Soil Acidity
If you have issues with soil acidity in terms that it’s too high, wood ash can help you fix it. (1)
I always recommend performing a soil test before amending it with any substance. If the test shows overly acidic soil, you can add wood ash.
The amount of wood ash you need mainly depends on the size of your planting site. For instance, if the planting site is about 200 square feet, you’ll need around 15-20 pounds of ash.
You should add wood ash to the soil before planting because it can burn the foliage of young plants.
If you already have some plants in your garden and you would like to add ash, make sure to rinse the plants down after application.
2. Amend Your Compost
We are all aware of compost’s superpowers but you can make it even more powerful by adding wood ash.
It will enhance microbial processes in the compost because charcoal is a porous material and will promote oxygen airflow in the compost.
Another benefit of ash in compost is that it will add nutrients. The good thing is that compost will absorb the nutrients and ‘protect’ them from rain.
3. Protect Your Compost From Bears
If you live in an area where bears are frequent guests, I’m sure you know how much they like compost.
You can repel bears by dusting your compost with wood ash. This is an eco-friendly bear-repellent technique that has been used for a long time.
Remember that this residue is alkaline so use it sparingly when adding it to your compost.
4. Repel Snails And Slugs
Yes, snails and slugs are adorable but if you’re a gardener, you don’t like these creatures much because they can destroy your cabbage harvest.
Wood ash will keep these critters away from your cabbage and other susceptible plants. All you need to do is take some wood ash and make a circle around your plants.
Well, it kinda looks like a ritual but I would do anything to keep my cabbage healthy!
5. Protect Your Aquatic Plants From Algae
If you have a pond in your yard, I’m sure you know how annoying algae can be. They’re the main reason why pond plants don’t do well.
Wood ash is rich in potassium and if you add it to your pond, it will feed your plants and protect them from algae.
Since this ingredient affects pH content, you should follow the formula of 1 tbsp of wood ash per 1,000 gallons of water.
6. Prevent Blossom End Rot
Blossom end rot (2) is on the list of biggest tomato growers’ nightmares ever! The problem is that it spreads quickly and the only thing you can do with the affected crops is throw them out.
If you grow tomatoes or other plants susceptible to this disease (cucumbers and squash), add a handful of wood ash to the soil before planting.
This will boost the calcium levels of the soil and protect your plants from notorious blossom end rot.
7. Protect Your Plants From Frost
How many times have you heard the phrase, ‘protect your plant before the first frost’? Many plants won’t survive cool temperatures and the fear of frost is always present.
Luckily, wood ash can help you with these problems! Add it around the base of the cold-sensitive plant and it will keep it warm and happy even if frost occurs.
Livestock, Poultry, And Pets
Let’s see how you can use wood ash when it comes to animals and their habitats.
1. Control Pests In Chicken
Have you been using diatomaceous earth for treating pests in chickens? What if I told you that you can get the same effect if you added ash to the dust bath for your chicken?
These birds are susceptible to lice, mites, and fleas and you can get rid of these annoying creatures by sprinkling wood ash around the chicken bathing area.
2. And In Pets
Pests in pets – I definitely don’t like how that sounds. Fleas aren’t uncommon in our furry friends but we can fix it by rubbing wood ash in their coats.
As an added bonus, wood ash will deodorize their fur!
I used wood ash on my dog and it worked. I also have a cat and I don’t know if it’s just her but she doesn’t like any products, including this one. I hope yours isn’t this temperamental.
3. And In Other Livestock
Good news for all of you who have cows, horses, or other homestead members! You can treat pests in these animals by using wood ash.
Just like with chickens and pets, rub wood ash on the animal’s coat and say goodbye to naughty critters!
4. Keep Your Chicken Coop Fresh
Here’s another wood ash use for chickens, precisely their coop. The scent of the coop can be really unpleasant but ash will help you keep it fresh.
The first thing you need to do is put a layer of ash in the coop, then add charcoal chunks, and finish with a layer of litter you typically use.
5. Keep The Water For Bunnies And Birds Fresh
It’s not uncommon for bottles for rabbits and waterers for poultry to develop algae, and this can be really annoying.
Luckily, a chunk or two of wood ash can help you keep the water constantly fresh. Make sure to replace the charcoal every now and then.
6. Flock’s Feed
I heard about this method from my grandmother and it seems that everyone was using it at the time.
If you want to extend the laying period of your hens and promote the laying rate, simply add a small amount of wood ash to their feed.
As an added bonus, it will reduce the unpleasant smell of their droppings.
7. Litter Box Odor
The clay litter we use today didn’t exist back then and the primary ingredient was, you guessed it, wood ash.
First, you need to clean your cat’s litter and then sprinkle some wood ash and mix everything well.
No matter how many cats you have, the scent from their litter will be way better.
Wood Ash Uses In The Home
Wood ash uses aren’t limited to outdoor spaces only. You can use that bucket of wood ash you wanted to throw out for many things inside your home. Let’s see!
1. Clean The Fireplace Glass
Glass on the fireplace is one of the prettiest things you can have in your home. But that thing can get so dirty!
Take a soft sponge, pat it with some wood ash, and scrub the glass. Once all the creosote is gone, clean the glass with the product for shining you typically use.
2. Make Soap
Here’s a wood ash use we’ve all heard of: making soap. Although it seems simple while you’re watching somebody else doing it, you need to be extremely careful.
Lye is caustic and can lead to severe burns, so make sure to protect yourself by wearing suitable equipment.
3. Clean Your Glass Top Stove
This use is similar to the one for the fireplace glass. So, you can quickly remove gunk from a glass-top stove. All you need to do is to make a paste by mixing powdery wood ash with water.
It’s of great importance to remove any charcoal pieces before using ash for this purpose. You don’t want to end up with damaged glass.
4. Silver Jewelry Cleanser
Silver jewelry is always trendy but if it gets dirty, it definitely loses its beauty. Instead of giving it to the jewelry store for cleaning, use wood ash and do it yourself.
If you want to clean a silver necklace using this method, you’ll need a piece of flannel. Coat it with ash, put it between your fingers, and then pull your necklace through it.
For lockets and other larger pieces of jewelry, it would be better to use a paste made of wood ash and water.
5. Polish Silver
Jewelry isn’t the only silver thing you can clean with ash. You can use it for basically any item made of silver.
No one enjoys cleaning their silver, but this method will make the job less exhausting.
For this purpose, you’ll definitely need to make a paste. Mix powdery wood ash with water, smear it on your silver item, and let it sit for a couple of minutes.
You can also apply powdery ash after to make the silver even shinier. Once you’re done, rinse your silver item and let it dry well.
6. Deter Household Pests
I don’t even like uttering the words rats, mice, and cockroaches, so imagine my fear when I see these critters.
Wood ash saves the day! It’s a well-known household pest deterrent and one of the best reasons to use it is because it’s chemical-free.
Sprinkle wood ash whenever you expect these little rascals; from basements to kitchen cupboards, everything will be pest-free.
7. Remove Fridge Odor
No matter how often you clean your fridge that odd smell can occur. You can prevent it by putting some charcoal chunks in a paper bag and placing it in your fridge.
Change it from time to time for better effect.
If your fridge is already a little bit smelly, use the same method but replace the chunks every couple of days.
8. Use It As A Desiccant
The moldy smell in our houses or garages occurs due to high moisture in the air. You can use wood ash as a desiccant.
All you need to do is put some ash in a tin can and make sure there are some chunks in there. Place tin cans where the moldy smell is present and you’re good to go. Ash will take care of the rest!
9. Moth Protection
Not so long ago, moths attacked my favorite blanket, and I was looking for different ways to protect all my fabric from these annoying creatures.
I fixed the problem by dusting powdery wood ash on my clothes and other fabric I wanted to store for the season.
10. Wine Filter
Do you have some homemade wine but it looks cloudy lately? Don’t worry, wood ash knows how to deal with it.
You need to prepare a sanitized funnel with a coffee filter, a sanitized carboy, and some charcoal pieces. Simply put the funnel in the carboy, add charcoal, and pour the cloudy wine.
11. Pat Your Yarn
If you’re a knitter, I’m sure moths are one of your biggest fears. Since wood ash protects clothes from moths, it can have the same effect on yarn and roving.
All you need to do is brush your yarn or roving with some powdery wood ash before storing.
When you need them again, shake off the ash and there will be no moths, I guarantee you.
Health And Cosmetics
We’re all aware of the number of chemicals present in modern products in the cosmetic industry. The situation isn’t much different in the pharmaceutical industry. Let’s see how wood ash can help us with this!
1. Use It As A Dry Shampoo
There are so many dry shampoo products on the market today and it seems like everyone uses this method. Interestingly, this isn’t something new and dry shampoos are way older than we think.
Instead of buying often expensive dry shampoos, you can rub some powdery wood ash on your scalp. The procedure is basically the same as for store-bought products.
Wait a couple of minutes, flip your head down, fluff your hair, and brush it well.
2. Treat Wounds
If you’re into traditional medicine, you may have heard that wood ash was frequently used to treat wounds on humans.
However, there isn’t any research that proves its effectiveness in treating wounds in humans. The only available research was conducted on rabbits (3) and the results were great.
If you don’t want to use it on yourself, use it for your livestock.
3. Make A Toothpaste
You’ll frequently see the use of wood ash for teeth whitening on social media. There hasn’t been research on this either, but consumers claim that the effect was good after a few applications.
I suggest discussing wood ash toothpaste with your dentist.
4. Mask Your Smell
OK, you can’t really use wood ash as a perfume but if you need to hide your smell for certain purposes, it definitely works.
For instance, if you’re a hunter and don’t want animals to recognize the human scent, rub wood ash on your skin and clothes (avoid face and eyes).
5. Tick Repellent
Wood ash works as a tick deterrent perfectly! If you’re often in the woods, I believe you have a fear of ticks and Lyme disease; I mean, who doesn’t?!
Apply wood ash to your skin or clothes and don’t worry about ticks.
Well, I’m not sure what exactly repels ticks, our ghostly looks, or some substance in wood ash. Just kidding, it’s the latter, but we definitely don’t look attractive with ash. But you know what they say, it’s not bad as long as it works!
6. Remove Hair Dye
There’s nothing as stubborn as hair dye on our skin. I’ve tried multiple products and the dye eventually comes off but my skin stays red for too long.
Wood ash is great for this purpose. Simply take a wet soft sponge or cloth, rub the dye with wood ash, and it will be gone for good!
Wood Ash Uses In The Yard
We’ve seen wood ash uses for gardens and inside your home, now let’s move to the yard.
1. Inexpensive Fire Extinguisher
To all the yard owners who have blacksmith shops or hay storage, I know that fear of fire is always present.
What you can do is put buckets of ash near these areas and in the case of fire, ash will deprive flames of oxygen, acting pretty much as fire extinguishers.
2. Anneal Steel
This is another wood ash use that’s been around for a very long time. This material can insulate metal, which will slow down the cooling rate.
If you have a blacksmith shop, always have some ash at hand.
3. Grill And Coal Forge
If you sift ash for some purpose, don’t throw away the charcoal. It’s great for use in a coal forge.
Additionally, if you want some burgers or a steak for dinner, use charcoal to fire up the grill.
4. Clean Grill
Wood ash before and after grilling? Why not?! You can make a thick paste by mixing ash and water and use it for the inside of the grill and grates.
If you’ve been grilling meat, the fat that stays on the grill will mix with ash paste and you’ll get a natural soap.
Wear gloves when cleaning the grill with this paste because it can dry the skin.
Let the solution sit for a couple of minutes, scrub your grill, and rinse well.
5. Root Cellar
If you want to make a root cellar this year, you can have a mini version by using wood ash. All you need to do is dig a hole, add a layer of ash, put your product in, and repeat until you cover all the products you prepared.
Finish with a thick layer of ash and put a piece of wood on top.
6. Protect Seeds
Storing seeds can be pretty tricky since they easily lose viability and fail to germinate when sown.
The essential thing when saving seeds is to add something that will absorb moisture from the container. The solution is simple: add wood ash into the container and the seeds will be protected!
7. Soak Up Oil Spills
It’s hard to avoid oil on the concrete when you have a garage and a car.
But if you put ash over the oil spill, it will soak it up and all you need to do is sweep it and discard it.
8. Cover Stains On Concrete
The oil will be gone but the stain will remain. You can’t remove it for good but ash can help you hide it.
After you sweep the ash that soaked up the oil, add another layer to hide the stain.
9. Repel Ants
There are various methods for removing ant hills from the garden. But, did you know that you can also use wood ash for this purpose?
After you add some ash over the ant hill, they’ll look for another location since they can’t remove it. You have to admit that this is a pretty wise method!
10. Melt Off Ice
If you have pets, you know that ice-melting products aren’t welcome in your yard. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, wood ash is the perfect choice.
Simply sprinkle it over the ice and admire its effect!
11. Glaze For Pottery
This method comes from East Asia and I was surprised to find how often they use it.
If you love pottery and would like to try something new, here’s a tutorial on how to make a wood ash glaze:
Wood Ash Kitchen Uses
We certainly didn’t forget the kitchen! Here are some of the best kitchen wood ash uses!
I didn’t hear of using wood ash as a garnish until I saw a show on some cooking channel. Interestingly, the chef who used it worked in a fancy restaurant and he claimed that ash gives the meal a smokey flavor.
This makes sense but the only thing that worries me is the type of wood you use for heating. If the wood isn’t dyed and doesn’t contain any chemicals, it’s safe for use as a garnish.
But if you’re unsure if it’s completely clean, it’s better to find some proven garnish.
2. Cheese Rind
All cheese lovers must try Sottocenere if they haven’t already. This Italian cheese actually has ash as a rind and it’s totally edible.
If you want to try your hand at cheese making, consider this amazing method!
Luckily, the process of nixtamalization isn’t as complicated as the word itself. It refers to soaking corn in the ash and water mixture to enhance the breaking of the outer shell.
Here’s an excellent tutorial:
This technique is used for processing corn for tortillas or you can make the famous hominy. If you love cooking and have a lot of experience, I’m sure you’ll like this wood ash use.
Never Throw Your Ashes Away
Who would expect that this byproduct has so many excellent uses? The best thing is that most of them are for everyday use and don’t require any special skills.
I guess the main question now is if you’ll have enough ash?! All jokes aside, this eco-friendly material deserves our full attention and I hope there will be more research on its further use!
1. Ohno, T., & Susan Erich, M. (1990). Effect of wood ash application on soil pH and soil test nutrient levels. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 32(3-4), 223-239.
2. Marsden, C. (n.d.). Blossom End Rot. Wisconsin Horticulture.
3. Shaikh, D.M. & Shaikh H.Z. (2009). ASH AS A UNIQUE NATURAL MEDICINE FOR WOUND HEALING. Isra Medical Journal