The American Farmer

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10 Ways to Recycle Wood Ash

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle wood ashLast winter we went back to burning a wood stove. With the rise of natural gas prices and the fact that we are trimming where we can to get back to the basics, we decided to return to gathering wood in the late summer and early fall. In one season we received a $160 rebate from our natural gas company because we had over stated our account and our gas usage had dropped. That’s a pretty good trade when you consider that in our area you can obtain a wood permit for a nominal fee and collect up to 5 cords.

Now the question arises; what to do with all the ash that we are accumulating. There are many uses for the ash removed from a wood stove around your home, farm and garden. Here’s a short list:

  1. Add the ash to a compost pile to build your soil ammending properties.
  2. Directly apply the ash to your garden area to increase the potassium and raise the PH level. It would be wise to test your soil first so you aren’t raising the PH too much. If the PH level is too high you can always add limestone to “sweeten” the soil.
  3. After verifying that the ash has cooled completely, dump them inside your chicken coop or covered chicken yard for your chickens. If you can, dig a shallow pit to contain the ash for their fresh bath. Another added bonus is it’ll help control the mites.
  4. Looking for a way to melt the ice and snow left on your sidewalk or path to the chicken coop? How about spreading the ashes? There are many people who simply spread the ash on their pathways to keep everything melted off and its not harmful like salt or man made chemicals.
  5. Spread the ash around on your lawn. Here’s a blog post with pictures of one such person who did so and the results are remarkable.
  6. Save the ash to control the slugs in your flower beds in the spring. The ash is very dehydrating to the critters and works very well when mixed with hydrated lime. Be sure to wear gloves and DON’T inhale.
  7. Turn your Blue Hydrandeas to Pink. Blue Hydrangeas are caused by acidic soil, sprinkling some ash around the bush will turn them Pink.
  8. For calcium loving plants like tomatoes, you can add 1/4 cup directly to the hole when planting.
  9. You’ve heard of tomatoe juice for de-skunking your best friend, well you can also use the ash mixed with some water to neutralize the smell as well.
  10. Make a paste of ash and water to use as a metal polish; and its non-toxic!

Of course, always use caution when dealing with any hot material such as ash and coals from your fireplace or woodburning stove. You should use a metal container, preferably covered, and leave it set a day or so to make sure that the ash has cooled.