10 + Ways To Use Wood Ash On The Homestead

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10+ Ways To Use Wood Ash On The Homestead

The byproduct of staying nice and toasty has many uses on your homestead, and who doesn’t love multi-functional? From helping your garden grow to cleaning your teeth, you will be amazed at all the ways you can use wood ash.

10 + Ways To Use Wood Ash On The Homestead

The use of wood ash goes back thousands of years, probably back to the beginning of fire itself. One cord of wood produces over a whopping  20 lbs of wood ash!
It is a valuable resource for your homestead (that’s FREE) and I’ll share 10+ ways on how you can put it to work. 

What is Wood Ash?

It is important to understand this article is Not about the ash left after burning charcoal, just ash left behind from burning wood. 

Wood ash (also known as potash) is the powder left after burning hard wood or soft wood. 

Wood Ash is

  • High in potassium ( hardwood ashes contain more potassium than soft wood)
  • Alkaline with a pH of 10-12
  • Water soluble
  • Contains calcium
  • Magnesium carbonate
  • Can neutralize acidic soil

#1 Use for Wood Ash: In The Compost

Do you have a composting bin? Then potash would be the perfect addition to your compost since it helps maintain a neutral balance.
Decomposing food tends to be acidic, so the addition of wood ash (which is alkaline) helps balance everything out. 

#2 Use for Wood Ash: In the Garden

We tend to have very acidic soil, the wood ash is the ideal supplement to our garden to balance the pH. 

How to use it in your garden, From the University of California

An average application is 5 to 10 pounds per 100 square feet scattered on a freshly tilled soil and raked in.
For a pre-plant treatment, it is best to apply ashes 3 or 4 weeks in advance of planting. They also can be side dressed around growing plants or used as mulch.
In order to avoid problems of excess salinity, alkalinity, and plant nutrient availability, you should limit the application of ashes to 5 pounds per 100 square feet of soil per year.
Avoid contact between freshly spread ashes and germinating seeds or new plant roots by spreading ashes a few inches away from plants. Ashes that settle on foliage can cause burning. Prevent this by thoroughly rinsing plants after applying ashes.

#3 Use For Wood Ash- Cleaning Windows

Who needs Windex when you have a fireplace? 

Have you ever heard ‘like dissolves like”? I have found over the years this old saying rings true, and wood ash is no exception.
If you have a wood burning stove with glass windows, chances are after a good season you can longer see through the glass.
To clean your fireplace windows, get you a damp sponge and dip it into the potash, then scrub your glass and watch the soot buildup fade away. 

#4 Use For Wood Ash- Chicken Dust Bath

If you’ve ever witnessed your chickens rolling around in dirt looking like they are having spasms, then you have seen them take a dust bath. 

Chickens love to take dust baths. Whether they do this because they know it is good for them or they just like a good ol roll in the dirt, who knows? 
Dust baths help prevent parasites such as mites and lice from finding a home in your chickens’ feathers and legs.  
Add some ash to your chickens dust bath area to help reduce infestation. 

 

#5 Use For Wood Ash- Deodorizer

Did your dogs get into a little meet-n-greet with a skunk? Or the goat manger smelling a little funky? Try sprinkling a little ash on the problem. 
As I mentioned above, wood ash is alkaline, which means it helps absorb odors and neutralizes them.  

Get a little creative and add some essential oils to your wood ash and keep in a shaker to use when the smell gets to be overwhelming. 

#6 Use For Wood Ash- Deter Pest

Much like using diatomaceous earth in your garden, pot ash sprinkled around the perimeter of your plants helps repel slugs and snails. 

# 7 Wood Ash Use- Emergency Vehicle Help

A friend of mine said “Wood ash is also the single best substance to throw under your tires if your vehicle is stuck in snow/ice. Hands down. I keep a paper bag of it in the back of the truck instead of sand or kitty litter or any of those other go-tos”

Get a little stuck in the cold white stuff? Sprinkle some around your tires to help you out in a jam. 

10+ Ways to Use Wood Ash On The Homestead

#8 Wood Ash Use- To Melt Ice and Snow

I grew up in an area that saw ice and snow for months on end. The solution? Salt. And LOTS of it. 

Unfortunately, we never look at the bigger picture, only the problem that’s right in front of us. 
As a result, our fresh waterways are being contaminated with salt overload, our drinking supply is being taxed, our lawns are salted and it corrodes any metal it comes in contact with. 

Wood ash contains potash – potassium salts – which will help de-ice and melt snow in moderate conditions. It’s free and won’t cause harm to plants, animals, and pavement.
Spread ash over snow and ice you want to melt. 

#9 Wood Ash Use- To Make Soap

I love researching the history of things, where they originated and how they have evolved over the years.
Since I started making our own cold processed soap, I have researched the origins of the craft and find it fascinating.
From the early ages to present time, people use wood ash to turn vegetable or animal fats into soap.
The history of soap-making is quite interesting as it dates back to 2800 BC. You can read more about the history of soap-making here.  

#10 Controls Pond Algae

Wood ash aids in controlling pond algae. Just one tablespoon per 1,000 gallons adds enough potassium to strengthen other aquatic plants that compete with algae, slowing its growth.

To learn more about using wood ash for ponds, click here.  

Bonus Uses for Wood ASH

Blown away yet? If you’re like me then you’re probably kicking yourself for dumping your ash bucket all these years. 
Fear not, there’s no better time than the present to put your ash to good use. 

In addition to the 10 uses above, pot ash is good for:

  • Whitening teeth
  • Wounds
  • Pottery
  • Home construction

Continue Learning

Keeping with the wood theme, we have two more articles I know you’ll enjoy. 

Choosing the Best Trees for Firewood

What We’ve Learned About Drying and Storing Firewood

Winterizing Your Homestead

Cleaning Creosote From Your Stove Pipes Like a Pro

How We Chop Wood To Save Time And Energy

 

10 + Ways To Use Wood Ash On The Homestead

 

 

 

 

 

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39 Comments

  1. Lisa Denny on December 31, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Wood ash also works well in the outhouse. Sprinkle some over the top once you’ve done your “business”. It eliminates odor and repels any insects.

    • Amber on January 1, 2018 at 4:14 am

      Great tip! Thanks for posting. We are getting a composting toilet soon so I appreciate this.

  2. HollyT on December 31, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Does this also apply to pellet ash from a pellet stove?

    • Amber on January 1, 2018 at 4:19 am

      Since I am unfamiliar with pellet ash I researched it. It seems it depends largely on the quality of pellets you use. If they are made with synthetic materials and glues. If you are using a natural pellet, then it can be used in the same way as wood ash, keeping all the same precautions. Such as soil pH and pond etc.

  3. Lisa on January 3, 2018 at 6:21 am

    Don’t forget Bermuda grass. It can really take over your yard! It is almost impossible to get rid of unless…….you put wood ash on it!

    • Amber on January 4, 2018 at 6:33 am

      Great Tip, Thanks for sharing!

    • Mindy on March 6, 2018 at 5:06 am

      Lisa, How do you use it for that application? I have a terrible Bermuda grass problem in my garden and the thought of hand digging it all out is daunting. Thanks

      • Amber on March 6, 2018 at 5:29 am

        I’m not sure your question applies to wood ash specifically. As it is used to control pond algae and not weeds. If you have a grass issue and want to kill it, you can try covering it with wood or cardboard for an extended amount of time or use agriculture grade vinegar (found at feed stores). Household vinegar is not strong enough.

      • Lisa on March 23, 2018 at 9:14 am

        Mindy, believe it or not, it works. I am in California. Not sure if yours is the same kind of Bermuda grass or not, but I believe most of it is the same. You need to put it on top of the soil, about a month before you plant anything. Spread it pretty thick, right when the Bermuda is coming out from being dormant. I used three 5 gal buckets of wood ash to about a 7 x 10 ft square section. Sprinkle with a little water, then leave it alone till you plant your garden. If a sprout pokes through, put more on that spot. It really does work.

  4. Ashlyn on January 4, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    I can already see myself coming back to this time and time again. I was just wondering if you wouldn’t mind elaborating on the uses of ash with pottery?

  5. Anna@GreenTalk on January 5, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    I was told it is great to deter pest around eggplant from an old timer. I don’t add it to my garden beds since it raised the pH of the soil especially around acidic plants like blueberries. Plus adding ashes to a bed makes it hard for plants to use the iron in the soil. I add it to my compost, then add the compost to the garden. Every University seems to have different thoughts about adding ashes to your soil.

    • Amber on January 6, 2018 at 4:03 am

      Thanks for sharing. We have very acidic soil so I have used it as an amendment and never had any issues but I always recommend getting a soil test from your local extension before adding anything to your soil.

  6. Anna@GreenTalk on January 6, 2018 at 4:33 am

    I so agree. Soil testing is a must. It drives me crazy seeing people just add anything to their soil because they read that it will help their soil.

  7. Nancy on January 7, 2018 at 5:44 am

    A paste made with water and wood ash polishes silver. Just rub in, rinse and dry.

    • Amber on January 7, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Great Tip! Thanks for sharing

  8. Dave on January 7, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    Wood ashes are no good for traction on ice, you better stick with sand or cat litter, unless you can get your hands on some coal ashes!!!

    • Amber on January 8, 2018 at 4:19 am

      thanks for the tip. Wood ash melts ice, not indented to provide traction.

      • leon levin on January 13, 2018 at 11:35 am

        Works for me. i’ve used it many times to get unstuck from snow and ice.

        • Amber on January 14, 2018 at 7:16 am

          Thanks for sharing your testimony. People don’t believe me, but it really works!

      • Dave on February 13, 2018 at 6:56 am

        According to your tip #7 you use it for getting a vehicle out of snow and ice, the ash only melts snow when it absorbs heat from sun light.

        • Amber on February 13, 2018 at 6:58 am

          true. And I have used this tip but it was always daylight. Thanks for the info, good advice.

          • angel on March 10, 2018 at 8:34 am

            ood ash works better than the other 2 alone. Wood ash sticks to snow and ice where the others bounce off like bb’s. Yes it melts snow in the sun but you don’t need sun to make it stick., That is where you get your traction from. We live in the wood and get stuck more than I care to admit, wood ash flat works. In shady sloping areas around the house I mix the ash with icemelt and traction sand and sprinkle on the path. With out the ash it’s back to bouncing bb’s and falling on my tush. Ash alone works good the mix works great for those extra nasty areas.



  9. bill on January 16, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    We use it on fire ant mounds, it really out performs the pellets in home stores.
    Just kick the top of the mound (with boots on), and sprinkle and then lightly water and in about a week they abandon the pile.

    • Amber on January 16, 2018 at 3:14 pm

      Great Tip!!!! Thanks for sharing!

    • Lisa on February 13, 2018 at 2:43 am

      I hate fire ants!

  10. Christina White on January 16, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    I seen where it’s good for whitening teeth? How is it prepared? Not quite sure I’ll use it that way, but very curious!

    • Amber on January 17, 2018 at 6:30 am

      I am working on a part two to this article to further dive in to the bonus tips. Wood ash for the teeth helps pull out impurities and stains, much like clay or charcoal.

  11. James on February 7, 2018 at 4:08 am

    Hi there …in the past used it to clean dishes

    • Amber on February 7, 2018 at 5:06 am

      I guess since it is used to clean glass and make soap, it would work for dishes in the same manner. I may give this a try. I wonder if the ph in the ashes helps dissolve the grease on the dishes. I may have a future experiment. Thanks for the tip and stay tuned! lol

  12. Dave on February 13, 2018 at 6:53 am

    You should tell your friend the wood ashes are junk for vehicle tire traction, stick with sand or cat litter, they are much better..

  13. Steven Vandenhoek on February 24, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Used it for cleaning the glass on my wood burning stove. Worked wonders – no more nasty toxic glass cleaner goop. Thank you so much.

    • Amber on February 25, 2018 at 3:34 am

      Wonderful! Thanks for the testimony!

  14. Dan on March 1, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I use them in the chicken yard, they use it as dust bath, great for getting rid of mites.

    • Amber on March 1, 2018 at 6:00 pm

      thanks for sharing. I use it that way too and I’ve never had (knock on wood) a problem with mites.

  15. Kathy on March 2, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    It also polishes silver with a soft damp rag.

    • Amber on March 3, 2018 at 5:40 am

      great tip! thanks for sharing.

  16. Nina on April 11, 2018 at 1:51 am

    When you use it to control algae on the pond….is it safe for fish? I have a small ornamental pond with Koi in it and hate using chemicals for algae

    • Amber on April 13, 2018 at 4:13 am

      I would contact your local pond supplier but I personally believe it would be fine. The amount you use is minimal. However, I have no experience with Koi ponds.

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