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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