Every time you burn firewood in your fireplace this leaves you with a significant amount of ash. Instead of putting this straight into the bin, why not use it in some alternative ways?
Alternative ways you can use your wood ashes from your fireplace
1. Add to your garden soil
Did you know that wood ash is a great source of potassium, calcium and magnesium, all of which are essential for plant health. If you’re looking to increase your soil pH, then using wood ash in your garden soil is an effective way to do this.
How do you know if you need to increase your soil pH? Take a soil test. The ideal pH range for soil is between 6.0 to 7.0. Only add wood ashes to your soil if the pH level is falling below 6.5 as this means that it’s lacking in magnesium and calcium. It is advisable not to add wood ashes to the soil when the pH level is greater than 7.0 as this will hurt your plants and even kill them. Also, if your garden soil is within the optimum range (between 6.0 and 7.0) then you don’t want to mess around with the pH level.
Wood ash is water-soluble and changes soil pH levels rapidly, which means you can apply twice as much ash by weight compared to limestone. If soil is in the optimum pH range then it can handle 20 pounds of wood ashes per 1,000 sq ft. We always recommend being careful when adding wood ashes to your garden – wear eye protection, gloves and a dust mask. Make sure to mix them in properly before planting anything, and hose off any ashes that have accidentally settled on growing plants to prevent the burning of any foliage.
2. To make homemade lye (a cleaning agent/ soap)
By running water through wood ash and when combined with several other ingredients you can make soap. This soap is perfect for scrubbing wooden floors, laundering clothes and bed linens and was used in ancient times, as early as 2,800 B.C.!
3. To repel slugs
If wood ashes are sprinkled lightly around plants that are susceptible to slugs, then the ashes will irritate the slugs’ moist bodies and repel them. This repellent effect disappears after rainfall, so may need to be reapplied.
4. Provide winter traction and to melt ice
You can also use your wood ashes to spread on walkways and driveways as the ash will melt ice and provide traction. It doesn’t work as effectively as salt and can be very messy. But, it’s free and a great alternative that won’t damage animal paws or paved surfaces.
5. To clean glass and metal surfaces
If you’re looking to clean off grease, grime, residue and tarnish from glass, silverware, grills or glass stovetops, then using wood ashes makes fast work of this! All you need to do is dip a damp cloth in the ashes (or make a thick paste by adding water to the ashes) and scrub lightly with a cotton cloth. After which you can rinse away with water and dap dry with a cloth. Make sure to wear gloves when scrubbing to avoid burns.
When handling and managing wood ashes, make sure that you use common sense and remain vigilant. Even though the ashes appear cold, any buried embers may remain active for days, even weeks. It is also important to store them in a covered container set on dirt or concrete, making sure that it is not close to any combustible surface.