So you have burned off the scrap wood, cleared the brush and had plenty of fires and now are left with a pile of ash. Whats good about this?
Heaps! Wood Ash has a huge amount of benefits around your property. Wood ash not only boosts nutrient levels in the soil, it repels insects. If you are throwing it away you are losing potential fertilizer and as a homesteader fertilizer is King!
So what can you use wood ash for?
1. Enrich the Compost
Just use a little bit every now and again. Its pretty rich stuff.
2. Insects hate it!
Insects like snails, slugs, ants and other insects hate it because it takes away water from their bodies.
3. Wood Ash for the garden
Add the wood ash to the garden, but just be careful where. Dont add it to the raspberries, blueberries, rhododendrons, or anything that likes low acid soil but the tomatoes and fruit trees will love it! Just remember to water it when you place it around. Wood ash has lots of calcium, and potassium and it takes the place of lime. It does helpful things like boosting the acid levels so if you have areas in the garden that need the acid then put on the wood ash. Repelling the insects, its a real asset to the garden and free!
Use the ash on flower beds, lawns, shubs and if you have a pond with algae then use it there. For any water plants add one tablespoon per 1,000 gallons of water.
Be liberal with it in fall, but a little cautious with it around young plants in springtime as it changes the pH balance.
Just a warning – dont use with nitrogen fertilizers in combination with wood ash. A mixture of nitrogen and highly acidic properties such as wood ash produces ammonia gas and you definitely dont want that!
4. Deskunk pets!
A handful rubbed on your dogs coat neutralizes the lingering odor. Put it round the kitty litter too.
5. Make Soap
Really! Weird right! What you do is combine wood ash and water – this produces lye which is used in soap. So add in some animal fat and boil the mixture. Tip: A bit of salt will make the soap harden as it cools.
6. Melt Ice
Wood ash has acidic properties and with the salt content it melts the ice. When you are driving and notice that your tires are slipping use the ash.
7. Polish the silver!
Cheap way to get that silver clean!
Word of warning:
Wood ash needs to be handles with care. When retrieving it out of the fire use a metal bucket and dont put directly into the a plastic bin either – I lived next to a homsteader once who put ash directly into her bin and was visited by the Fire Department when it went up in flames!
Use gloves and eyewear as the ash is dust-like and goes everywhere including your eyes.