You would think that wood ash is just a useless leftover that remains after a fire, but the stuff is incredibly practical! We create a lot of ash on the homestead! We heat our home and water completely with an outdoor wood furnace. A radiant floor system circulates hot water throughout the tubing in the floors and creates a warm and efficient atmosphere.
Each month we have about two commercial sized wheelbarrows full of ash, so we needed a solution for it! We have found some practical ways to implement the ash into other areas of homesteading.
1. dust bath for chickens
Chickens are pretty comical if you watch their behavior. By nature chickens give themselves baths. If you don’t provide a place for them to bathe, they will find a spot in your garden bed and make an inconvenient mess! When you give your chickens wood ash, they will cover themselves with it, getting it down in between their feathers, which keeps them smelling fresh and fights off chicken mites.
Adding the ash to compost will boost the potassium and lime levels in your pile. Decomposing can result in higher ph levels than what is good for your garden, so the alkaline nature of ash can help balance that out.
3. Deter garden pests
Sprinkling the ash around a garden space can ward off unwanted pests such as cutworms, beetles, slugs and snails. After a strong rain or wind, you will need to reapply.
4. Add to calcium loving plants
Plants that thrive with extra calcium include apple trees, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, celery, and cabbage. We will be spreading it around the base of the trees in our orchard and adding some to our garden space as well. Just sprinkle around the base of your plant and let it work its magic.
5. Lawn fertilizer
Spreading ash in your yard can be a great fertilizer as it contains 10-25% calcium, 1-4% magnesium, 5-15% potassium, and 1-3% phosphorus.
6. Melt snow & ice
Wood ash contains potash (potassium salts) which work great for melting snow and ice. Its free, won’t damage plants, grass or pavement like salt will, and is safe for animals. Its also great to throw under tires if you happen to get stuck in the snow.
7. Clean fireplace glass
Its a messy job that seems to just smear when you use window cleaner! The saying “like cleans like” is relevant here! Get a sponge damp, dip it in the ash and start scrubbing your glass. The results are impressive!
I’m sure there are many other uses for ash that we have yet to discover, but so far, these are our favorites. Not so useless after all! Give it a try and let us know what you think…or if you have any other tips, we’d love to hear them as we have a lot of this stuff to use up!