What a Pile of ASH!
Ash is a natural by-product of burning wood. After a few solid fires, your wood stove can quickly build up with this power-house left over.
So what do you do with it?
Back in the day, wood was the primary choice for good heat and homeowners were accustomed to making the most of everything, including the by-products. Ash was used in EVERYTHING!
From gardening to health care, ash was the back in the day “Windex”. You sprinkle that $#!+ on everything, it was basically your Franks Red Hot (but not to be eaten).
Well, it seems more and more people are opting for the “old way” of things. Houses are being equipped with alternative heating and wood stoves, fireplaces, and even boilers are making a comeback!
This is a GOOD THING for a chimney sweep!
So Let’s Dive In To The Wonderful Multi-Tool: ASH
Let’s talk about what has homesteaders EVERYWHERE excited.
Ash can be used almost any where on a homestead, in almost every way, and is SAFE around the precious chickens!
That is like jumping for joy to a homesteader or backyard chicken enthusiast.
Well, ash is cheap … and homesteaders can be “cheap”.
It’s a chicken joke, don’t get mad!
Ash can be a wonderful addition to your chicken dust bath.
Ash helps deter fleas and other insects by drying out their exoskeleton. Because of this it’s perfect for helping your hens avoid investations.
Chickens and turkeys naturally dust bath to help clean their feathers of unwanted guests, adding a scoop of wood ash to their bath helps get the message across.
But, should I panick if Amelia Egg-hart eats a bit of the dust bath?!
Ash can be used as a supplement in your chicken feed.
Ash is very high in minerals (check out what Simcoe County is doing with ash to restore their forests and laskes) and can be a great, and cost effective supplement for your hens (in small amounts).
Wood ash provides calcium and potassium to your chicken feed, increasing their intake (making sure you add LESS THAN 1% ratio … so like a sprinkle) can help extend the laying period for your hens *necessary in cooler climates*.
Bonus goodie: added calcium and potassium found in wood ash can help with … fowl odor *I crack myself up* can I count that as helpful use #3.
I know it goes without saying BUT … if you are using wood ash to help supplement your chicken feed, you need to be diligent in burning clean wood only.
Wood Ash Is Good For the Bees
Bees need all the help they can get these days (I would highly recommend getting a hive or two if you have a moderately rural property).
We will discuss it in a use or two, but ash can be a great “forcefield” to help bees defend against invasion.
Did you know (and my boys find this especially neat) ants will attack a bee hive to gain access to the honey and larvae? They have been known to form living chains of ants just to get in.
Encircling your hive in ash will help to deter ground based pests and can give your hive that much needed breathing room.
Powerful Pest Control
Consider this your powerhouse for natural pest control.
We have already tipped at the effectiveness of ash in deterring fleas and mites in your poultry posse, but did you know that almost NO bug likes ash.
Ash dries up the exoskeleton of most bugs and certainly is no friend to the goopy creatures (slugs and snails).
Let’s explore a couple of tips for taming the tiny terrors:
** ps, that is a picture of an ant eating a ladybug larvae, didn’t know they looked like that did you? You’re welcome! **
Tell your Ants to Hit The Road
Dumping wood ash on a ant colony signals to them that it is time to move. The deterrant is non-life threatening to the ants, for the most part, but will encourage them to relocate.
It’s a win-win, no ants are harmed, no dangerous chemicals are used, and your yard is a little less creepy-crawly.
Slugs and Snails … no puppy dog tails
Slugs and snails steer clear of ash because it dehydrates them, QUICK.
Protect your garden and your crops by encircling them with a ring of ash. You may feel a little like you are performing some sort of ritual from Supernatural … don’t fret, the only thing you will be doing is preventing those slimey garden destroyers from entering.
NOTE: This also works well to keep them off your leafy greens. Dusting your lettuce and crops with a light ash bath will help to prevent slugs from dining on them before you.
All ash washes away, you will have to re-apply after each storm (which is kind of a bummer).
“Get a dog,” they said.
“It will be fun,” they said.
Until you’re seven months pregnant and have two children two and under when your dog gets sprayed in the backyard!
Yup, that’s happened.
Man I wish I knew about this little life hack back then!
Wood ashes naturally help neutralize skunk odor on pets (and on humans silly enough to bear hug, grab your pet as they attempt to run into the home). If an animal gets sprayed simply dust them thoroughly with wood ash and leave them outside for a few hours before giving them a dawn dish soap bath.
Back to Battling Bugs!
Because who doesn’t like to have a few extra tricks up their sleeve when dealing with our six (and eight) legged friends.
- Clothing moths
- Fleas and even ticks
All are repelled by this natural beast!
Dusting the dark and damp spots in your home with some wood ash can help to repel the creepy crawlies, you can *technically* dust your stored clothing with some ash to prevent moth damage but that is a “do it at your own risk” sort of deal, I can’t promise it washes off perfectly.
As for your pets, like your favourite hen, you can dust bath your cat or dog periodically to help deter any fleas or ticks. Just make sure you brush them off or bathe them the following day (cats especially) as they tend not to LOVE the sooty taste of the ash.
Shaking Your Ash Around The Home
Guys, I had to throw it out there! And if you are still reading I sincerely hope that you giggled a tiny bit about that. But, in all seriousness, you can use wood ash ALL over your home! You can shake that ash EVERYWHERE!
Get Rid Of That Smell
Do you remember the days when people were blissfully unaware of the dangers of chemical scents and we would go around in Shoppers Drug Mart or Sears just sniffing ever perfume available. Because your nose would get so overwhelmed with the scents, there would be the coffee sniff to balance the blossoms.
Well, wood ash acts the same.
Think of it as a natural baking soda (not that baking soda is unnatural) … ok think of it as a banking soda alternative but don’t substitute it in your muffins.
Similar to baking soda, wood ash can help absorb odors around the house. You can sprinkle some in the kitty litter to neutralize the urine smell, put a small mason jar in the fridge instead of a box of baking soda and enjoy a fresh fridge.
Dodge the Dampness
If you have a spot under the stairs or in the cellar that is particularly damp, fill a mason jar with ash *and a few lumps of coal* to help absorb the moisture and prevent mold or mildew build-up. Remember, this powerhouse has many purposes so while your mitigating the mold you will be helping to rid your space of that “cold, damp” smell.
Want a naturally, brighter smile?
You know it!
Whiten Your Teeth Naturally
Why pay extra for toothpaste and that “charcoal” powder when you can reuse what you already have, knowing 100% where it comes from and what it is!
No more guessing and buying some fad “black toothpaste”, a baby jar of your own ash will do the trick!
Clean All the Things!
Wood ash is an excellent, mildly abbrasive, cleaner that works wonders around your home.
No need for harsh chemicals and a tonne of elbow grease, adding a pinch of ash to some water to create a paste will help you polish your way to sparkling windows in no time.
- Clean your stove glass
- Clean the WOOD STOVE glass
- Polish your car headlights
- Polish your silver
Seriously, ash creates a great natural polishing agent when mixed with simple H2O.
Clean Oil Spills
Are you a DIY mechanic? Have you changed the oil in your car and made more than a mess? OR … maybe your car is a little tired and it drips on your driveway.
Wood ash is a great at absorbing oils spills (like kitty litter or baby powder). If you’ve noticed a spot on the driveway and you would like to hide or minimize it, cover it in ash for an hour or so and sweep away. The ash should absorb the oils and leave your driveway looking like new!
Bonus: Wood ash is naturally dark in colour so it can actually help to restore that newly ashphalted look!
Melt the Ice!
You’ve got it right, just sprinkle it all over the field and BAM, snow will be gone!
Not quite … but almost.
Using your ash will help to naturally melt the ice on your driveway and your walkway and it’s PET SAFE!
Just know, it is ASH, and so if it tramps into your home it will be black. My expert advice (because we use our ash to keep our walk safe for the kids and the plethora of Amazon deliveries) have a nice, big, black “welcome” mat at the front door! No one will see the ash, it will absorb the water and you’ll be melting ice the safe and natural way.
So, now you know, there are endless uses for your wood ash! There are more we can chat about in terms of plant health and growing a more lush garden by enriching the soil with the spoils of your fire, but we shall save that for another – probably very lengthy – post.
Just remember (and it goes without saying but I’m going to put it out there anyway) be careful when removing the ash from your fireplace or wood stove. Ash and embers can burn long after the fire is out. It’s important to remove your ash into a nonflammable unit, you could dampen it to ensure it is out, and DO NOT TOUCH with your bare hands unless you know it is FOR SURE cool.