Ash is one of the slightly annoying by-products of your beautiful fireplace. It must be removed on a regular basis to maintain a healthy fireplace and a clean living space. However, what you might not know is that there are several practical uses for ash, especially if you are into gardening. See below for our top 10 uses for wood ash, but first let’s look at some tips and tricks when handling ash.
Wood ash is primarily composed of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, but also contains trace amounts of iron, manganese, sodium, boron, zinc, copper, and molybdenum. Put more simply, it is what’s left over after burning wood, such as oak, in your fireplace. In general, ash that is the result of burning hardwoods, such as oak, is better than softwoods like pine. Never use ash from BBQ grills, pressure treated planks, painted or stained wood, or commercial logs. Ash is a very alkaline substance that needs to be handled with care. When removing ash from a fireplace, be sure to always wear gloves and goggles to keep the particles out of your eyes. Also, ash can remain hot for days after the fire has gone out, so it is important to wear gloves to keep your hands protected. If the particles are very fine, wear a dust mask to keep them from entering your lungs. Always store ash in a metal bucket with a tight sealing lid.
Ash in the Garden
Wood ash has many uses around your garden. However, you may want to steer clear of a few uses if you live in an area where the soil is already highly acidic. In general, you should try to keep the pH level of your soil between 6 and 7.5. You can find out your soil’s acidity by purchasing a soil acidity tester or by calling your local Master Gardeners.
Top 10 Uses for Wood Ash:
- Enrich Compost: A dusting of ash in compost enriches nutrients
- Block Slugs and Snails: A border of ash will keep away these annoying garden pests
- Pump Up Tomatoes: Calcium loving plants like tomatoes and carrots thrive with a little (¼ to ⅛ cup) ash placed directly in the hole before inserting the plant
- Control Pond Algae: One tablespoon per 1,000 gallons adds enough potassium to strengthen other aquatic plants and slow the growth of algae
- Melt Ice: Never rush to the store again to buy overpriced ice melt. Ash makes a great ice melt that doesn’t damage concrete or soil
- Clean Metal, Silver and Glass: Ash can be used to polish metal and to clear up cloudy glass, such as your fireplace screen or oven. Just add a little water to make a paste, apply, let sit for a few minutes and remove
- De-Skunk Pets: Use ash to neutralize the odor by rubbing a handful in their fur
- Remove Oil or Paint Spills: Ash will absorb these messes in just a few minutes. Once fully absorbed you can sweep them away
- Dust Bath for Chickens: Chickens need to bathe themselves in dust to stay clean. Mix ash with sand to create a perfect chicken bath
- Clean White Boards: Ash will remove permanent marker from whiteboards with ease
For other questions on wood ash or other questions on fireplaces and stoves, call the CSIA experts at White Glove Chimney & Duct at 530-221-3331