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Winters call for a lot of use of wood for a bonfire, in the chimney, for barbeque, and many more. If you have been heating a lot of wood ash lately, you would know how challenging it is to eliminate the large lumps.
A lot of people have the notion that wood ash is as good as dust. If you’re one of them, you would be amazed to know the uses of wood ash at home and garden.
Historically, wood ash was used in a variety of creative ways, including preservation of food, pest control, sowing, cooking food, and even makeup.
You can also use those techniques now to make the best use of wood ash you previously thought is waste. Think of the prospect of free fertilizers, pest control, odor remover, and much more. You are going to dive into such possibilities right now!
Is Wood Ash Safe?
While wood ash has an array of household and garden uses, you need to take care that you don’t use it in abundance. For preservation and cooking uses, you should only use prescribed limits as overuse can be harmful in such cases.
Similarly, you should consider the prescribed limits while sowing ash in the garden as overuse can result in reducing the pH level of the soil to large extents. Keeping all those factors in mind, it’s safe to use wood ash in the following uses we have found.
Household Uses Of Wood Ash:
1. Clean Stove Glass
Wood ash is mildly abrasive and can easily scrub away dust particles off the glass. It might seem unreal to believe since you have mostly regarded wood ash as dust itself.
But the irony is that it can easily wipe away the soot off the glass and make it look like new. Just mix it with a small amount of water and use a cloth to apply it on the glass stove.
2. Polish Metals
Tired of your artificial and silver jewelry losing their shine frequently? You might get as much frustrated in oathing to only wear expensive metals since polishing silver, and such metals take a lot of effort and time.
Wood ash can make your silver and other artificial jewels sparkle again. Just wet a towel, rub it on wood ash and scrub the jewelry gently.
3. Hide Stains from Pavings
The pavings and sidewalks in your corridor and outside your home attract a lot of stains. But don’t get too excited, wood ash isn’t going to clear off the stains and make them look new again. What it can do, though, is hide the stains and fill it up to make the pavings look better.
Just sprinkle the grey colored wood ash on the pavings and scuff it up with your shoes for a cheap way of hiding stains.
4. Clean Foggy Headlamp
If you’re amazed by the uses of wood ash already, you will be pleased to know that we have just started. This one is going to blow your mind. Wood ash can clean the cloudy headlamps of your car!
Headlights get foggy or cloudy due to prolonged exposure to road grit and dust as well as exhaust fumes. A cloudy headlamp glass will significantly decrease the intensity of your headlight, making it challenging to navigate in darker roads. You don’t need to worry about buying a headlamp cleaner, though. Just make a paste using wood ash and rub it on the headlamp to clear it up.
5. Melt Snow
Winter is one of the most pleasant seasons with picturesque sceneries of snow outside the houses, a highlight. But who doesn’t know the pain that comes with blocked pathways due to snow? It’s necessary to clear up the ice outside your front door as well as the walkway.
Much like artificial salt, wood ash melts the ice quite effectively. But wood ash is a free alternative that you can scrap out of your chimney. It’s getting all the more impressive, isn’t it? Just sprinkle the wood ash on your driveways and walkways to melt the ice and sweep away the residue afterward.
6. Clean Oil Spills
Do you remember the last time you spilled oil on the floor? Apart from having to bear the grunt of your mom, it requires a bucket load of water and detergent to clean it off. Additionally, it takes a lot of scrubbing and eats up a good chunk of time and soap.
That problem remained until I came to know the magical effect of wood ash. It can easily absorb oil spills and doesn’t cost a penny! Just sprinkle wood ash over the oil and let it stay there for a while before sweeping away.
7. Get Rid of the Odor
If you are entering your house after a long time or opening your closed storeroom, you know how disgusting it smells. Sunlight and fresh air can naturally dissolve the smell, but it takes a significant amount of time, especially in rooms without windows.
Wood ash can do the trick for you. Just fill a jar with wood ash and keep it in the fridge. Wood ash is a robust smell absorber and works even better if it has bits of charcoal left.
8. Flea Treatment for Pets
You read that right; wood ash can genuinely act as a natural flea killer. It’s like a serial killer risen from the ashes for the fleas roaming on your pet’s fur.
Pets, especially dogs and cats, attract a lot of insects and the flea treatment sprays are quite expensive. Wood ash is free and can dry out and kill those irritating fleas harming your pet.
9. Cockroach Repellent
I get quite scared when I find cockroaches roaming around my house. They can spread bacteria around the home, and no one can mend their unhygienic ways of living in the sewer at all.
If you are going through one such bug attacks, you don’t need to go to the market to buy a cockroach repellent anymore. Just spread wood ash on the susceptible corners of your home where cockroaches make their home.
10. Treating Wounds
Welcome home, your new antiseptic. Wood ash has been proven to heal wounds quickly. It’s been shown to speed up the healing of skin tissues.
That’s not to say that you’ll permanently use wood ash to heal your wounds unless you’re running out of antiseptic or your bank account has gone nil.
Wood ash can also be used to treat some topical skin conditions.
11. Get Rid of Humidity
Are you having a hard time dealing with molds all around your house? Moist places around the house encourage the growth of fungi.
Don’t worry; wood ash has got your back. Just place a cup filled with wood ash in affected areas like kitchen, cupboard or basement and see the magic. It would be better if the wood ash has retained some pieces of charcoal as it quickens the process.
12. Get Rid of Tanning
One major drawback of the modern age is the ignorance upon useful techniques of yesteryears. One such method barely used anymore is using wood ash to hide tanning. As per this reference on a brain tanning site, Neolithic people regularly used wood ash to hide their tans.
Many American natives also soaked their skin in a wood ash solution before scrapping off their tanning.
Who doesn’t love a warm sunbath? And your sunbath is going to be sweeter when you know that the free of cost wood ash is going to help you ease out the tan. Unless obviously, you love that tan that gets boys drooling around you.
13. Kill Cloth Moths
Many friends of mine love the smell of naphthalene coming out if stored winter clothes. But you may not be one of them, just like me. Wood ash is an able, if not better, replacement for naphthalene balls.
They can kill cloth moths quite effectively and retain the freshness of your clothes. You might be worried about the ash leaving its mark, but don’t lose sleep over it. Just rub it, and it will be just fine.
14. Eliminate Odor from Your Pet’s Poop
Like millions of Millenials out there, if you too have a habit of procrastinating, it would seem a real task to swipe away your kitty’s poop. Here’s a quick fix to eliminate the odor and wipe it later on.
Just sprinkle some wood ash over the poop, and it will quickly absorb the smell saving you the effort of cleaning it away instantly.
15. Store Eggs
Wood ash is the savior for all the bachelors and single people out there. If you don’t have a refrigerator at home, you can store your eggs in wood ash! Yes, it isn’t a hoax at all.
Many people in middle eastern countries mix clay, rice, lime, and salt with wood ash to store eggs safely. Additionally, you can preserve it for a long time and add a smoky taste to it. Okay, the last one was a joke, but you can maintain your eggs safely using this technique.
16. Fridge Deodorizer
If you’re a meat-lover or another one of those procrastinators who keep cooked food overnights in their fridge, here is some good news for you.
You can get rid of the stinky smell coming out of your refrigerator using a little wood ash. Just fill an open container with wood ash and keep it in the fridge. Open it after a few hours, and alas, the smell is gone.
17. Clean Whiteboard
Have you lost your duster, and your students are looking forward to an off day? Being a determined teacher, dust their dreams off using a whiteboard.
Well, not quite literally, but wood ash mixed with water can be quite useful in cleaning up whiteboards. Additionally, you can also clean up the permanent markers off the board.
18. Clean the Bathroom
Is the growing list of cleaners available in the market burning a hole in your pocket? Save some bucks by removing the bathroom cleaner from your shopping list and use wood ash to clean the bathtub and bathroom tiles.
Wood ash is abrasive and cleans away sticky dirt easily. Increase and reduce the thickness of the paste as per requirement.
19. Replace Bleach in the Laundry
Wood ash can be used to lighten the clothes in the laundry. It’s a natural replacement to bleach and doesn’t have any adverse effects on the clothes, unlike bleach—mix 1 part of wood ash with 4 parts of soft or distilled waters. Pouring 1 cup is sufficient to lighten one load.
20. Glaze Pottery Ites
Are you an art enthusiast? Do you like to have fun with clay and have a thing about sculptures? Wood ash can add a sparkling charm to your one of a kind pottery.
Add some wood ash to a clay slurry and use it to paint your sculpted pottery. The calcium carbonate content in wood ash can add a sparkling glaze to the pottery when you fire it at the right temperature.
21. Wipe Off Furniture Stains
Another use of wood ash that can significantly cut your cleaner costs. You easily clean off furniture stains using a paste of ash and water.
Spread it gently over the area and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Wipe off the paste using a wet sponge. You should first apply the paste to a hidden area to avoid any damage to the furniture’s paint.
22. Clear Clogged Drains
Clogging of drains is a common problem in households, and it can get frustrating if the drain worker is taking hours to clean the drain.
Directly add a cup of wood ash inside the clogged drain. Heat a cup of soft water and pour it in the drain right after pouring the wood ash. Let it sit for some hours before flushing the drain with fresh water.
23. Clean Paint Stains
Paint stains on the pavement and concrete floor can be challenging to remove, but wood ash can be a useful cleaner if you’ve just painted your house. Rub some wood ash on fresh paint drips and sweep it up roughly. The stains will be vanished without leaving a trace using this trick.
24. Clean Cast-iron Utensils
You might find it hard to remove sticky stains from cast-iron dishes and pans. Wood ash is again to your rescue in case the stains are tough to remove.
Soak the cast iron in a solution of wood ash and soft water for around 24 hours. You will see the dust particles clearing out, and this technique will also freshen up rusty iron. Wash the dish with vinegar and water to make it ready for use.
25. Make lye Water with Wood Ash
If you love to make noodles and spaghetti at home, you would need lye water to get the ramen a springy texture and yellowish color.
You can also use lye water to make other Chinese dishes like mooncakes. Follow recipe instructions to make lye water safely and avoid stomach burns. Safety is always the priority.
26. Use It as a Pasture Fertilizer
By now, you must have realized wood ash is much more than residual waste. Instead, wood ash is rich in minerals like potassium and calcium along with a lower amount of magnesium, manganese, zinc, and phosphorous.
The presence of metals like boron and copper also adds to the precious value it provides as a pasture fertilizer. Sow in wood ash in your yard, and let your pet eat feed on them and ingest these valuable nutrients.
27. Prevent Ice Clogging
Winters are that time of the year when the whole town gets covered in snow, making for a picturesque view. But it brings along problems like build up on ice on walkways, satellite dishes, and windshields.
Sprinkle wood ash in all these areas to significantly reduce the build-up of ice and enjoy the winters without worries. Additionally, you will make good use of a large amount of wood ash caused by the burning of wood in winters.
28. Makeshift Water Filter
Has your water filter stopped working, but you can’t drink water from the direct supply? You can make a useful water filter for temporary use with wood ash. It’s crucial for the wood ash to have charcoal pieces to filter the water.
Filter the water through charcoal and ash. Let the water seep through a muslin cloth, and your water will be safe to drink.
Yard and Garden Use:
29. Improve the Quality of Compost
Maintaining a compost pit is a tough task, and if you have dug one of those holes in your yard, you would know the challenge of maintaining the nutrients inside.
Add a good amount of wood ash in the compost to boost its quality. You will see a lot of worms converting all the matter into nutrient-rich compost.
There’s also good news for those living in rural areas. Adding wood ash in the pit can prevent omnivores like bears from getting attracted to the hole.
Isn’t it getting better and better? You are now getting a free fertilizer without paying a penny. A lot of mineral traces from trees remain in wood ash. These minerals enhance the quality of soil, in turn, boosting the plant’s quality.
Ideally, you should add around 5 gallons of wood ash in every 1000 sq ft in your garden. Refrain from adding ash in acid-loving crops like potato and blueberry as it raises pH levels in the soil.
31. Prevent Frost Damage in Plants
Winter season brings its own problems in the garden, and we’re not talking about cleaning the snow. Your plants get damaged due to frost in an open garden. Sprinkling wood ash over the plants can reduce the freezing point of water and prevent your plants from frost damage.
32. Shoo Away Snails
Snails and snugs can damage many crops in your garden, especially mushrooms and lettuce. Sprinkle wood ash in a circular shape around the plants to prevent snails from entering.
Keep in mind that it is only valid until it rains. You would have to frequently reapply to achieve the best results.
33. Relocate Ant Nests
Is your garden filled with ant nests, and those ants are biting on your little kid or pets? Wood ash can act as a non-toxic repellent in an out of the box way.
Dump a pile of wood ash over the nest. It won’t suffocate the ants to death but rather give them the message to relocate. They will shift their nest a distance away, thus maintaining a distance from your child’s play area.
34. Get Rid of Black Spots on Tomatoes
Planting tomatoes takes a lot of hard work and time, but what if your grown tomatoes have ugly black spots. Here is a little hack using wood ash. Those black spots are the result of calcium deficiency in tomatoes.
While eggshells can be used to prevent calcium deficiency, you can also choose wood ash. Add a quarter cup of wood ash inside holes in which you plant the tomatoes and cover up the soil back.
35. Strengthen Aquatic Plants
Having a pond around your farmhouse is a real luxury. If you are connected to nature, you will also like to grow aquatic plants in the pond.
But the growth of algae can be fatal to these plants. Add a little wood ash in the lake to nourish them with micronutrients and make them better competent to fight algae.
36. Kill Fleas in Poultry Animals
You need to take care of the chickens and turkeys in your poultry farm and keep them disease-free. A lot of parasites make their home in your furry poultry animals and can make them sick.
They naturally dust bath to get rid of such animals, and adding some wood ash to the dust will further treat the insects. Don’t worry if your animals eat some ash, as it will also act as a mineral supplement.
37. Supplement in Chicken Food
The high value of minerals in wood ash can be quite beneficial if you use it in the right. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should eat it yourself(don’t be too greedy), but you can add a little in your chicken’s food.
Wood ash contains a lot of potassium and calcium and can help in extending your chicken’s paying period. Only feed less than 1% carefully as a more substantial quantity can be harmful to the animal.
38. Defend Beehives from Ants
Bees run the danger of their honey being stolen by the ants. Ants are wicked animals and can seriously hurt your ambitions of extracting real money.
Add to that the hard work done by your bees over a long time. You want to kill all those ants if that does happen. But rather than being too unrealistic, try to make a circle of wood ash around the hive.
Recipes to Make Using Wood Ash:
I know you don’t want to compromise food safety over taste. But recipes including Hominy are traditionally made using wood ash, which creates unique flavors.
Different types of wood produce different wood ash, and Native Americans use wood ash to make lye water. Field corn is soaked in lye made of wood ash as discussed earlier.
Another American dish made from lye water, Bagel, has borrowed their crispiness from wood ash. They coat bagels with lye and put it in the oven. The heat from the oven removed the lye, and the wood ash adds a smoky and crispy flavor. It already has your mouth-watering, right?
You can replace your pickles crisp by lye water to make pickles. Since it’s a mixture of sodium and potassium, they can contribute to breaking down the food matter, quickening the pickling process.
This is a kind of greek pudding traditionally made using lye water. Wood ash reduces the bitterness and impurities from the wine and must, respectively.
You only need lye water when the grapes aren’t much ripe and sweet. Just boil must with ashes and let it sit overnight to remove any impurities from it as well as the vines.
43. Piki Cakes
Another Native American dish, Piki, is also called Blue Corn Cake in some places. It is a bread that is left directly in wood ash, unlike other dishes that are made with lye water. It is a fragile sheet of dough rolled and quite crispy to eat. You can check out the recipe here.
Melomakarona is a delicious greek honey cookie that contains lye water. It’s quite simple to make and you can try it out with friends or for guests. Just add a quarter cup of wood ash in a liter of water and let it pass through a thin cloth directly into the cookie batter.
45. Curing Olives
Mediterranean Cuisine has an array of recipes strictly made using wood ash and Olives are one of them. They cure the olive pickles directly using wood ash just as in the case of other pickles.
Woah! Didn’t expect it right? But you may have been eating wood ash all your life. Many cheesemakers add a layer of wood ash in the cheese. Some kinds of cheeses also have a wood ash coating over them. Wood ash acts as an acidity regulator reducing the acidity in the cheese.
Yes, the pretzels that everyone loves. If you have ever seen your mom cook it or cooked it yourself, you would know Pretzels are boiled in baking soda water before you put them in the oven.
That wasn’t the case years earlier when they were actually boiled in lye water. You can also use this technique now to see if it actually tastes better that way.
In Food Preservation:
Looking to earn some quick money? Well, wood ash can do that for you. Buy a large number of tomatoes and cover them with lots of wood ash to preserve them for months. You can sell them later when the market is running short on tomatoes.
Processed or frozen cheese is as tasty as fresh but comes with its own side effects. You can rather store cheese in a natural way using wood ash.
Put the cheese in a stone pot and surround it with around one and a half inches of wood ash. Keep the pot in a cellar and store it safely for more than three months. Some people say that its flavor also improves using this technique.
Seeds are prone to get infected by fungus in the humid or moist climate. Research has proven that wood ash can preserve seeds from rotting. You can preserve many kinds of common seeds including corn, melon, and beans.
51. Eye Shadow
Wood ash was used in parts of Rome to create an eye shadow called Kohl. They mixed Wood ash along with some other darkening agents and applied it with an oiled stick for unibrow look popular at that time.
52. Removing Hair Dye
Scraping out hair dye from the scalp is quite a tough task. It can be a painful process but it is made easy by using a small amount of wood ash. Many beauty sites recommend using cigarette ash but that’s mainly due to easy accessibility of it.
53. Remove Hair from Nostrils
You can use wood ash to remove hair from nostrils using this simple technique. Take a small amount of fine wood ash and dilute it. Rub the solution in your nostrils gently and remove hair easily.
Other Important Uses
Another reason why wood ash is an able replacement for baking soda as leavening. A refined compound of wood ash named potash was used in acidic recipes like buttermilk and homey.
55. Preservation of Rennet
You can preserve rennet used in cheesemaking without refrigerating it using this simple technique. Just store it in a horn and seal it with a thick paste of wood ash to prevent it from denaturing.