It’s spring which means it’s also the end of your burning season! And for those with a wood-burning fireplace, insert, or stove, this also means clearing out any remaining wood ash, so that your system doesn’t draw in harmful moisture over the summer months.
Haven’t removed your fireplace ash yet? Here are a few tips to keep in mind before digging in:
- Wait at least 24 hours after your last fire to start the process.
- Since embers can stay live in your ash pile for quite some time, always use a metal scoop to remove the ash and dump it into a non-flammable container (like a metal bucket or trash can) that has a lid.
- Secure the lid tightly onto the container to keep out oxygen, then set it outside of your home (not in your garage or on your porch) on a non-flammable surface for a few days until you’re certain all embers have died out and the ash is safe to dispose of.
All done? Don’t throw out that ash pile just yet! Wood ash can actually be put to use in a lot of different ways both inside and outside of your home. How exactly? Well, that’s what we’re here to discuss.
Wood Ash & Gardening/Composting
We’d say that one of the most popular uses for wood ash is in gardens to enrich soil. Many plants suffer when pH levels are too low, and wood ash is known to raise these due to its high calcium content. It also helps neutralize acidity in the soil for plants that don’t thrive when levels are too high (like tomatoes, citrus plants, and roses). Just be sure to keep them away from acid-loving plants like blueberries and daffodils.
But don’t just carelessly toss the ash in… You’ll want to do some reading up to ensure you’re not adding too much (or not enough). It’s a bit of a science, but can provide some great benefits when done correctly!
Ash is also great for deterring snails and slugs, who hate how the dry nature of ash contrasts with their slimy texture. Sprinkle some around the edge of your garden to deter these plant-loving pests.
Into composting? Next time you dump your scraps and leftovers into your compost bin, toss some ash in with it. It’s good for the worms (who play a vital part in breaking things down), and it can help decompose things on its own, too.
Wood Ash & Household Chores
For many, ending the burning season means scrubbing down their fireplace and getting any soot stains addressed. Well, when you get to cleaning your glass doors, fireplace ash can come in handy. Simply dampen a piece of newspaper, dip it in your ash pile, then scrub the glass down. We know… it sounds weird, but it’s been a tried and true method for decades!
This ash paste can also be used on silver to polish it up and people have used it on cloudy headlights, too, ensuring they shine brightly and effectively. Some even claim wood ash can remove clothing stains (similar to how baking soda can).
Have a pest problem? Wood ash has been known to detract things like cockroaches and moths, so stash some in the corners of your closet to keep those unwanted annoyances out.
Wood Ash & Your Outdoor Space
There are lots of ways to utilize leftover ash outdoors. Here are some of the more popular uses:
- Build traction on icy sidewalks and driveways
- Deter ants by sprinkling it on their anthills
- Soak up unsightly oil stains from concrete
- Control pond algae
- Prevent frost damage to plants
- Hide pavement stains
Some even say that wood ash can be used to treat and clean wounds! (We’re not so sure about that, though… try at your own risk!)
Wood Ash & Your Pets
So, speaking of pests, does your pet have a flea problem? If you want to tackle the issue ASAP and can’t get to the vet right away, rub some wood ash into their coat. This will supposedly suffocate the bugs, causing them to dry out and die off. Your pet will be scratch-free and all without any expense on your part.
This also works with chickens. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for folks to have a few chickens on hand for laying eggs, but parasites can get into their feathers and cause trouble. Throw some wood ash in their pen next chance you get. They’ll take a dust bath in it, which helps to keep these pests away.
Finally, some pet owners incorporate wood ash into their pet’s bathtime routine to help eliminate foul odors. They’ll turn the ash into a paste and scrub it into their fur before rinsing the critter off. This is said to keep them smelling fresher, and some swear it’s the only thing that has ever effectively eliminated skunk smells, too – definitely a good piece of knowledge to keep stashed away.
Wood Ash & Baking/Cooking
Ok, bear with us… but wood ash had roots in many recipes before baking soda was such a common kitchen staple, and there are apparently people that still use it to this day! Most of the time, ash is mixed with water to create lye water, which can then be used when making pretzels, bagels, certain fish dishes, cakes, breads, and even cookies.
It’s also been used to reduce acidity in certain types of cheese and to keep pickles crisp. If you’re into trying out new things in the kitchen, do some research and see how you can incorporate ash into your routine – you may be pleasantly surprised with the results!
Need Springtime Chimney Care?
With the end of your burning season comes the need for chimney inspections, masonry repairs, fireplace upgrades, and more. The sooner you invest in the professional care you need, the better! Reach out to us now to avoid the busy fall season. We’d love to hear from you soon.