Think about an ideal winter evening. The first thing that comes to most people’s minds is a wood fireplace, cracking fire, warm ambient, lavished in warm golden light… Yet, this kind of winter enjoyment requires a bit of work and we can say it is worth it.
Having a wood fireplace requires regular cleaning of the ash leftovers. Many people face one, same problem and it is: what to do with those ashes? Is there any way to put the wood ashes to good use? Or we just throw it away?
It will be interesting to many to know the wood ashes actually contain lots of minerals. Also, because of its natural alkalinity and abrasive texture, it good to use ash in gardens and around-the-house work. These minerals actually originate from the tree it was before. There is calcium, potassium, magnesium and many more.
Another interesting fact is that wood ash can be used for making some types of pastry. It was used before the baking soda invention! You can make soap and even natural bleach using wood ash.
Some of the wood ash uses remained in the past, but, there are some that stayed to the modern days. Nowadays it is used as free natural garden fertilizer, natural pest control, to get rid of stains and odor removers… Some women even use wood ashes to remove excess hair dye from their skin after dying the hair!
In spring, a single cord of hardwood produces about 5-8 gallons of wood ash. This means we get about 30-50 gallons of ash. Because this is obviously too much for a single-use, people have been creative and came up with some new ways to make the most of the wood ashes.
We offer you some great tips on many different uses for wood ash.
Dispose or reuse the wood ashes
You should first allow ashes to cool off for a couple of days so you wouldn’t burn yourself. One way is to bag it as any other garbage and throw it away. Yet, we can put it to use in some work around the house and garden.
Garden work often requires various preparations and chemicals for improving soil fertility, protecting plants from parasites, weeds… Re-using fireplace ashes will cut down the excessive expenses. It is somewhat the gardener’s dream. The soil absorbs nutrients from the fireplace ashes, adds them to the compost and keeps away pests such as ants, slugs and snails.
You can also use the fireplace ashes to cover stains on cement, to clean fireplace doors or silverware…
Knowing the proper steps to dispose of the fireplace ashes is crucial for home safety. This will prevent any accidental burns or fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Adding small amounts of wood ash can make huge changes to compost and so soil quality. The wood ashes give a great boost to the compost and the soil becomes way healthier. As proof, dig around a bit and you’ll notice many worms attracted to the ash and compost treated area.
A compost pile can attract birds, which can be nice having around the backyard. Yet, in some more rural areas, it attracts bears as well. To prevent this, throw around a few wood ashes around the compost pile. This should kill off the smell of scraps keeping bears and other omnivores away.
Cockroaches can be a real nightmare around the house. You can get rid of them with the use of fireplace ash. Dust around some wood ashes in the dark corners of the house (cockroaches run away from light) and underneath the appliances.
Wood ash also proved to be great at absorbing different and unpleasant smells. Try putting a jar of wood ashes in the fridge. If it still contains charcoal pieces, it will absorb odors such as the smell of onion, garlic, fish…
Mold can be a huge problem in the house. It has a dangerous effect on respiratory organs and health in general. Use wood ash to dry out affected areas and to drag out the moisture and humidity. Put a cup of wood ashes in a cupboard or basement. The small pieces of charcoal will boost the effect.
Hide Tanning Wood Ash Pre-soak
Brain tanning was a method used first in Neolithic culture. It is a process for softening animal skin. Some Native Americans still do it nowadays. This method makes the skin smooth as the wood ashes cause hair to fall out. Thanks to this method the skin becomes soft and can be used for making clothes.
The explanation for this is the alkaline traits of wood ash as it is available to disrupt the mucoid bonds. The entire process takes about 2-4 days to complete. You can get a complete brain penetration in one simple training with fresh hides.
Use as Bleach
Back in the old days, it wasn’t as easy as going to the store and simply buying all the cleaning chemicals you need. Housewives had creative tricks and hacks on how to do the cleaning in a more natural and cheaper way.
To use the wood ash as bleach, first, you need to pass it through the metal sieve so you get the fine, white-gray powder. Mix the wood ash powder with soft and hot water (the ratio is one part wood ash, three parts water). Soft water doesn’t contain added minerals which could jeopardize the lye-making process.
After mixing it, leave the ash to settle. The water you’re left with is the so-called “lye-water” and you can use it as natural bleach. To enhance the bleaching effect, use hot water and add one cup per wash load. As this can burn your skin, wear a pair of protective gloves.
Besides cleaning the clothes, wood ashes can be even used to make soap! Boil one cup of wood ash powder and one cup of soft water in a stainless-steel pot. As in preparation of bleach, leave ash to settle on the bottom of the pot and pour the lye water into another pot. Boil the water again to improve the concentration of the lye. To test it, put the egg into the water. If it floats- it is done!
In the meantime, boil about one pound of fat. It can be any sort of fat – vegetable oil, meat fat… When it turns to hot liquid, pour the fat into the boiling lye and stir until it thickens. Add two tablespoons of salt to the mix. To make soap smell nice, you can also add herbs and essential oil into the mix.
Clean Glass and Metal Melt
Cleaning grease, grime, tarnish on glass, silverware, ovenware, grills, glass stovetops, glue residues left by sticker or labels. This can take hours to clean. It can even be somewhat frustrating as it won’t come off no matter how hard we scrub.
Wood ash can be of major help here. Mix water and wood ash to make a paste. Dip the cotton cloth in it, and scrub. Rinse afterward and the results will be amazing.
Ice and Provide Winter Traction
Ice can be very dangerous during the winter. If you didn’t prepare bags of salt before the winter, you can use wood ashes instead. Spread fireplace ashes on walk paths, stairs, staircase… True, wood she is not as good as salt is, but it still does help. And it is free!
We already mentioned before the amazing traits of wood ashes in treating your garden. If you want to keep away these pesky, little intruders – throw some wood ash around the susceptible plants. Wood ash irritates slug’s moist bodies so this will keep them away.
Correct Acidic Soil
If the soil pH is too low and the soil is too acidic, you can use the wood ash to deal with this problem. The University of California and the Cooperative Extension advises using 5-10 pounds of ash for every 100 square feet. This should help in achieving the soil pH balance.
A soil pH of 6.5 is a good value for most home gardens. Most plants need in the 6.0 to 7.0 -a bit acidic to neutral range. There are also acid loving plants like blueberries, which prefer more acidic soil, and some, such as ferns, which do best in soil that is neutral to alkaline.
You should do this right before planting, so the wood ashes would infiltrate deep into the soil. But if you’re doing it after the plants already started growing, be sure to rinse plants afterward. The wood ash can damage tender leaves.
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