At Least 10 Uses for Wood Ash

Becoming Self-Sufficient
Thursday, 2nd February 2012

We found this great list of things to do with wood ash. We have tested some ourselves like cleaning the glass of a woodstove and fertlizing tomatoes but we have NEVER dusted pets that have been skunked!

1 - Dust Baths - place cold ashes where your birds can get to them, the dust baths will control bugs

2 - Ring Around the Rosie - spread a low ring around individual plants are gardens to deter slugs/snails

3 - Mix into your Compost - in the north, this is the perfect thing!

4 - Lawn Fertilizer - Wood ash contains 10-25% calcium, 1-4% magnesium, 5-15% potassium and 1-3% phosphorus.

5 - Cleaning Agent - mix with water to form a paste and use on the glass in your wood stove or fireplace. Ditto for rings left on wood furniture from glasses. It's abrasive, so use with care. Ditto for polishing silver

6 - Great Fertlizer for Tomatoes and other nightshade veggies

7 - Sprinkle on Slippery Walks - it takes very little!

8 - GREAT Ice Melt! It's alkaline nature makes ice melt, and then if the sun is out, the darkness of the ash creates heat, melting ice more and faster than regular ice melt - I tested it in my driveway in 2011.

9 - Algae Deterrent. VERY little needed. 1 Tbs per 1000 gallons of water as needed.

10 - Odor Control - Put in t-shirt material to insert in stored shoes. Also dust on pets that have been skunked - after having shampooed them with Nature's Miracle

11 - Make Lye - takes some work and old timers only use hickory ash, but it can be done. 

Cross posted from Becoming Self Sufficient


Maddy Harland |
Mon, 05/03/2012 - 17:27

Interesting.... but putting wood ash into your working compost heap is not a good idea for two reasons. Firstly a chemical reaction may take place with the nitrogenous constituents and ammonia can be released, losing nitrogen from the heap..., and also, the nutrients in the ash, mainly the potassium, are very readily soluble, so they will wash out of a compost heap.

To use it as a fertiliser, add it to a growing medium... put it in your compost mix once you've got it ready to plant things in (I make my mix out of loam, leafmould and compost), or add it to the top of the pot or soil where it will wash into the medium when it rains or when you water.

The article missed one good use, and that is to sprinkle some around fruit trees, stone fruit likes it, and apples which suffer from 'bitter pit', a condition that some apples sometimes suffer from, especially Bramleys.

Sam Mills |
Thu, 08/03/2012 - 08:19

shows a typical laundry day. Laundry is being boiled (which is how they used to wash clothes back in that day) and hung to dry. No one here is making soap.

Stacia Kristof Khalidwe Nordin |
Fri, 30/03/2012 - 15:12

use of Ash in our part of Africa (Malawi) is still common today - you list some of them, for a scrubbing powder on dishes and around the kitchen in general is probably most common.

Putting wood ash in certain food dishes, such as with greens or legumes of grains is also rather common. It's been used for centuries with Maize consumption in some parts of the world. Here is one example, I can't access the whole document
* Effect of lime and wood ash on the nixtamalization of maize and tortilla chemical and nutritional characteristics.
* by María Renée Pappa, Patricia Palacios De Palomo, Ricardo Bressani
* The Ca, K, Mg, Fe, and Zn content of lime and wood ashes showed lime to be high in Ca content while wood ash contained more K and about 71% of the Ca content of lime. Both contained relatively high levels of Mg, Fe and Zn, but more so in the wood ashes.

HomeGrown Habitats |
Mon, 04/06/2012 - 16:03

Hi, I appreciate the ideas! I work in the woods and we have access to plenty of wood ash. We also have a serious maggot problem this time of year, and I experimented last week with sprinkling ashes on the affeted areas of our packs. It seemed to work, and I guess the dust bath entry in this article bolsters that hypothesis. Excited to see the bit about stinky shoes - which we definitely also have in abundance. Think I'll use single socks in lieu of t-shirt material though. A no-stitch solution.

Windwalker |
Sun, 15/11/2015 - 03:56

You can also use wood ash for preventing or removing fleas, ticks, and chiggers. Sprinkle in the area needing treatment. The pests can't stay in it and live. I will be treating my woods behind the house to get rid of all the chiggers and ticks there this winter/spring. And have been treating my yard for the fleas that had infested my poor dogs.

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