What To Do With Ashes From Fireplace
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A wood fireplace is a perfect addition to your home, especially during the cold season. It warms up the house, and the cracking sound of the burning wood is relaxing as you wind down the day. The only disadvantage with a wood fireplace is that you need to clean out the ash regularly.
So, what to do with ashes from the fireplace? Wood ash has a wide range of applications. It can be applied to your garden or mulched flowerbeds to enrich the soil or correct acidic pH. Wood ash can also melt snow in driveways and can be used for cleaning as an alternative to bleach, glass or metal scrubber, or polish remover.
Below are 8 ways you can use ashes from your fireplace. We also answer the most commonly asked questions regarding what to do with ashes from fireplace.
Read on to learn more!
8 Ways To Use Ash From Your Fireplace
Wood ash is rich in nutrients that are beneficial to plants and is great for your compost pile. Ash contains significant amounts of potassium, potash, phosphoric acid, and calcium. It also has magnesium and aluminum in smaller quantities.
Tomato plants benefit greatly from the application of wood ash as they require high levels of potassium and calcium to thrive. Wood ash also helps to replenish nutrients in the soil during crop rotation. Plants such as alfalfa, corn, and hay deplete the soil of nutrients. Applying wood ash where these plants are growing can help amend the soil’s nutrient levels and encourage plant growth.
You can sprinkle the hot wood ash directly into the soil as compost or make compost tea. To make compost tea, soak 1 pound of ash in a gallon of water for 4-5 days. Then, apply it to the soil as need be.
As An Acidic Soil pH Conditioner
Wood ash is alkaline. Its pH level ranges between 8-12. Therefore, it works well for neutralizing acidic soil. In addition, since it is water-soluble, it absorbs into the soil easily.
Start by measuring the soil pH using a soil pH meter before applying wood ash to the soil. Apply 40-70g per square meter of acidic soil. However, if the soil pH is lower than 3, you may need to apply more wood ash.
Do not apply wood ash if the soil is already alkaline or neutral. Also, do not apply wood ash if you grow plants that do well in acidic conditions, e.g., blueberries.
There are several ways you can use wood ash for cleaning, including as a glass or metal scrubber, make bleach or soap, or absorb odors.
To make a scrubber, wet some wood ash to make a paste. Then, scoop the paste with your fingers or sponge and rub gently but firmly against the surface you want to clean. It buffs off tarnished metals, removes stains on glass, and removes adhesive or sticky residue.
As such, you can use wood ash to get rid of soot on the glass front of your fireplace. Simply dip a damp cloth in ash and use it to wipe the glass. It is also an effective and inexpensive method of cleaning your silver jewelry.
To make bleach, soak one part of ash in 4 parts hot, soft water to make lye. You must use soft water as it does not contain any chemicals or minerals that may react with the minerals in the ash. Mix the water and the ash, then allow the ash to settle. Sieve the lye water and dispose of the ash sediment. The clear liquid is known as lye and can be used as bleach. Use a cup of the lye per wash load.
Wood ash was one of the earliest ingredients used for making soap. You can still make wood ash soap at home. It is as effective as commercial soap but less caustic. Wood ash soap is softer and oilier, but you can add salt to make it harder and less oily.
To make wood ash soap, start by making lye as described above. Boil the lye in a stainless-steel pot to concentrate it. While the lye is still hot, add fat or oil. Any type of fat or oil will do. Traditionally, soap makers used tallow or lard. You can use coconut oil, cocoa butter, or shear butter to make the soap nice-smelling.
Continue to stir and heat the mixture for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the solution to sit; mix it every 10 minutes until it is golden brown. Then pour it into the mold and allow the soap to solidify.
Like baking soda, wood ash is excellent at absorbing home odors. Place an open cup or bowl of wood ash in your fridge or room to get rid of odors within a few days.
As A Pesticide
More people are looking into organic farming and organic pest control. Wood ash is highly effective as a natural pesticide to deter ants, ticks, snails, and slugs. Hot ash kills these pests. Sparingly sprinkle some throughout the garden or in small amounts around the plants. Should it rain, reapply the ash once the rain stops.
Inhibit Algae Growth
If there is algae growth in your pond or aquarium, you can slow it down naturally using wood ash. The good news is, you do not need to use too much ash. A tablespoon of ash is sufficient enough to get rid of algae in 4000 liters of water.
Use It For Traction On Walkways Or Driveways
Wood ash melts ice and also provides traction on icy or snowy driveways or walkways. Since you often use the fireplace during the winter season, you can stock up on some for use on your driveway or walkways to provide traction.
Sprinkle an abundant amount onto the walkway or driveway. You can also store some ash in your vehicle for emergencies, e.g., to maneuver an extremely slippery spot. Aside from providing traction, ash also gets rid of oil spillage stains on the driveway.
Use ash to extinguish fire either in your wood fireplace or campsite. Sprinkle some ash onto the flames to extinguish them. You can then use the remaining ash you have to cover the hot coals and smoldering ash. Ensure all the hot spots are covered to prevent the fire from re-igniting.
Safety Precautions When Handling Ash
It is advisable to wear gloves when handling ash. This is because the lye formed when ash mixes with water can burn the skin. In case this happens, wash the affected area with vinegar to neutralize the alkalinity of the lye. As such, handle wood ash bleach with care. Also, test out wood ash soap on a small portion of your skin or a piece of cloth to see if it causes any burns.
Allow the fireplace ash to cool down before touching it and use gloves to avoid accidental burns if it has not cooled down fully. Should you need to use hot wood ash, use a shovel to scoop it.
Before you dispose of the ash from your fireplace, consider recycling it in any of the ways discussed above. As a safety precaution, wear gloves when handling ash and allow it to cool down whenever possible.