Wood ash removal is a sooty job that no one relishes doing. One ill-timed sneeze and it’s everywhere. However, you can put that messy dust to good use in many areas around the home. Here’s where you’ll find ways on how the benefits and uses of wood ash will help you live a better life; and just think, you were going to throw it out.
Uses in the Garden
Ash contains phosphorus, potassium, calcium, boron, and other elements that growing plants need to be healthy and strong. Ash is very alkaline and raises pH levels in garden soil; this provides a great place for seeds to grow.
A pH level is the natural acidity that exists in all liquids. Solutions with a pH of less than 7 are acidic, and a solution with a pH higher than 7 are alkaline; an example being water with a pH of 7 is completely neutral.
If you are an avid gardener and spend lots of time outside, you may already know what type of earth you are dealing with. If you haven’t, start by testing your soil before working with ash. Put about ¼ cup of dry soil into two separate containers. Mix in enough distilled water to make mud. Add vinegar to one cup and baking soda to the other. If the cup with vinegar fizzes, your soil is alkaline. If the cup with baking soda bubbles, it’s acidic. If nothing happens, it’s neutral. Remember, wood ashes will raise the pH and lower the acid in soil. Be careful not to use wood ashes on acid loving plants like azaleas, gardenias and blueberries.
For Your Lawn
A light sprinkle on the lawn with some watering will promote the growth of grass.
For Your Plants
Ash “Tea” boosts the potassium in your plants and the help them flower. Place around 5 lbs of ash inside a permeable mesh bag or cloth and steep with water. After 4 days, fill a watering can with some of this “tea” and water your plants once a week as soon as they begin to flower; Tomatoes especially love this.
For your Trees
Spread it around base of trees – Hardwood trees such as apple appreciate the nitrogen that ash produces, as it helps to nurture the roots and the fruit; Just a small sprinkle here and there is great.
Insects and animals hate ash so it is a fantastic and cheap, natural pesticide. To keep from bringing pests inside, you can also mix equal parts ash and water in a glass jar and let sit for a week, and then spray it on your firewood.
Uses for Icy Weather
Ash contains salt, so melting slippery ice isn’t a hassle! Sprinkle ashes on icy spots and they should be melted within the day without leaving salt stains on your car or clothes.
Uses for Ash Around the Home
Using white ash only, here are some domestic uses to clean and maintain your home. These are simple and effective ways to save a bit of money on expensive cleaning products. Please exercise caution when trying these uses for wood ash. When using on or near fabrics, remember to test a small spot that is hidden first before trying, just in case.
As a Polish or Abrasive Cleaner
Dry ash removes dirt and grime from many surfaces, such as glass, stainless steel and even frying pans. Clean your oven glass by dipping a wad of newsprint in water and then in ash and scrubbing the glass gently.
For Stain Removal
White ash combined with water to form a paste can remove watermarks and stains from furniture. Gently buff into the surface, and then wipe off with a soft cloth.
Washing clothes and removing chemicals from cotton, bamboo and hemp fabrics is easy by using ash in the laundry cycle.
Tip: Coat fresh stains with dry white ash and wait 5 minutes, then rub with a soft piece of bread (the centre bit) for emergency stain removal. Bread is a natural absorber for oil and moisture, so no wonder this works!
Just like baking soda, ash is a great odor remover. Fill a small bowl with ash, and place it in the fridge. Change it every couple days until that bad smell is gone. Sprinkle in litter boxes to neutralize the smell there too!
Cheesy Facts about Ash
Hundreds of years ago, wood ash was used as a method to protect and preserve cheese from surface damage or getting eaten by wildlife. This trick has been a tradition used for many centuries, and is key to improving the ripening age of cheese. Today, most fresh goat cheeses are covered with activated charcoal powder mixed with salt for preservation. Some cheeses from France, such as Morbier, have vegetable ash running through the middle. This gives a distinct taste, as well as helps preserve the cheese for long periods of time.