15 Uses for Wood Ash

Uses for Wood Ash


  1. Before starting each fire in our woodstove I run a piece of paper towel under water, wring it out and then dab it in the ashes and scrub off the glass on the stove…it removes all the black soot like magic!
  2. The same method as above also works great for cleaning the glass doors in shower stalls. After wiping rinse and scrub down to remove any ash residue.
  3. We live on a slope making getting from the house down to the horses and sheep a bit of a challenge when things are icy. Sprinkling ashes works better than any salt or sand product we’ve tried.
  4. In early spring sprinkle some ashes on top of the snow on your vegetable garden. The black ashes will help speed up the melting process and the potash (in small amounts) is good for the soil.
  5. Add ashes to the compost pile just before spreading it on the garden for best results. Some people argue that adding it to the compost while it’s still active prevents it from doing what it needs to do to break down. I apologize for the lack of science behind that statement! Ashes are alkaline and since our soil in the Peace already tends to be on the alkaline side don’t overdo it in the garden.
  6. Sprinkle ashes around plants such as hostas or brassicas to deter slugs.
  7. Sprinkle ashes around fruit trees; apple trees in particular benefit from an application every spring. The potash encourages firmer fruit.
  8. If you are having an aphid infestation wet the foliage and then dust the leaves with ashes. The next day rinse the ashes off. One application is usually all that is needed, but rinse and repeat in a week or so if necessary. Dry ashes can be dusted on plants as a preventative measure. Works well with tomatoes in particular.
  9. If you dye your own hair and get some hair dye on your neck, paper towel dabbed in ash will take it right off. The dye, not your neck.
  10.  Spread a layer of ashes in the bottom of your cat’s litter box and then cover with kitty litter. The ashes help absorb odor.
  11. Same method as above works great in chicken houses too. Put down a layer of ashes (Cold of course! You don’t want to burn down the hen house) on the bottom and then top with straw. Chickens enjoy ashes for winter dust baths and some say it keeps them from being bothered by mites and lice.
  12. Put the charcoal chunks from the ash box into an old sock, pulverize with a hammer and hang in a crawlspace or shed to help absorb excess moisture and odors. You can also fill a coffee can with crushed charcoal, punch holes in the plastic lid and use in the same manner.
  13. Put aside the charcoal chunks to use in your barbecue come summer.
  14. If you spill oil or paint on cement dump some ashes on top, let it sit for awhile until the ashes have absorbed the mess and then sweep it up.
  15. And finally, like many Peace Country Pioneers, you can mix ashes with water to make lye which in turn can be mixed with fat to make soap. But you’d have get a book on how to do that. Or talk to a pioneer…

Ashes should be stored in metal containers with a lid, such as a garbage can. If they get wet all the nutritional value will be lost. Always make sure the ashes are cold before transferring them from the stove to the container.

December 2010 Wood Stove 001


Do you know of any other uses for wood ashes? Please feel free to share!

Interested in fun flora facts and folklore? Visit Garden Trivia 

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Welcomed Home by a Trio of Moose

When we pull into the yard after a day at work or a trip to town we are used to being greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of animals. Over the years these have included numerous dogs, goats, chickens, cats, horses and sheep. They all know that shortly after the vehicle arrives a meal, a treat and a couple warm pats or a scratch behind the ears  is forthcoming. We’re used to it. What we aren’t so used to is being greeted by moose, but for the last month that is exactly what has been happening.

Watermark 2013-11-29 09.51.52 copy

When we pull in a trio of moose hot-foot it into the yard from wherever they have been hiding, intent on licking the road salt off our vehicles while it’s still fresh. The other night I arrived home and sure enough, there were the three moose impatiently waiting for their salt lick to roll to a stop. Even when their salt lick honked at them, they were undeterred.  I took in a load of groceries, leaving a door and a rear hatch open on the Jeep, thinking the interior lights would scare them away. When I returned the Jeep was surrounded by three lolling tongues each tethered to a moose. Clapping my hands and yelling only resulted in them reluctantly stepping away a few paces. It was disconcerting to say the least.

Watermark 2012 Moose 001 copy

I managed to get the rest of the groceries inside but I have to admit to being a bit jumpy. It’s hard to keep your eye on one moose in the dark, but three was definitely a challenge. One started making a guttural noise. I wasn’t sure if it was friendly or threatening; was it saying “Thanks for bringing back the salt lick, lady” or was it (more likely) saying “Step away from the salt lick, I don’t got all night.” Alas, I don’t speak Moose. Perhaps that’s for the best.

An upside is that in their enthusiasm for the road salt, they seem to be leaving the garden pretty much alone. And they have yet to breach any of my “tree corrals” that surround my most precious trees, so there you go. Every cloud has its lining.

One of my biggest concerns is coming out to discover a moose with his tongue stuck to the Jeep. Now that would be interesting.