When you burn stuff, you end up with ashes that the majority treats as waste. But it’s, not!
At Just Wood Furniture we know that throwing some logs on a wood-burning stove or open fire can transform the feel of your home flowers or backyard to create a cozy and warming atmosphere both Summer and Wintertime.
Truth is, waste wood ash from your fires can help to make your garden a great place to be!
So before you throw away the ash from your bonfire, garden incinerator, or stove, consider deploying this valuable waste material for one of these five uses.
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- 1 How to Use Wood Ash?
- 2 Wood Ash As Plant Fertilizer
- 3 Wood Ash Enriches Compost Heaps
- 4 Wood Ash Keep Pests Away
- 5 Wood Ash Melts Ice On Driveways And Paths
- 6 Wood Ash Cleans Stains Off Paving, Bricks, And Stone
- 7 Tips For Using Wood Ash In The Garden
- 8 Playing With Fire is Dangerous
How to Use Wood Ash?
It resembles lime. Lime is ground limestone and/or calcium carbonate (CaCO3). The difference is the time it takes for each to effectively increase soil pH. Wooden ash takes up to 6 months for lime to do so, wood ash is water-soluble and works immediately. Amount wise, wooden ash needs twice as much to match lime.
It takes a bucket of about 10 to 15 pounds or the equivalent of a 5 gallons (5 l) bucket full of ash to cover 1,000 sq. ft. yearly.
Remember, over-treating works like a salt and lye attack as that’s what ash comes with.
Wood Ash As Plant Fertilizer
Wood ash contains many nutrients that are important for healthy soil. These include potassium, magnesium, calcium, lime, and a range of other essential nutrients and trace elements. Adding these to the soil, when done correctly, increases pH to stimulate plant growth for a happier and healthier garden.
According to professional gardener & horticulturist Desiree Thomson, Potassium is the main nutrient provided by wood ash. This is critical for plant growth and helps with water and nutrient absorption and photosynthesis.
Ash from hardwoods such as maple, apple, walnut, ash, cherry, hickory, sycamore, or oak have a higher concentration of nutrients and burn both hotter and longer. Conversely, softwoods like firs or pine produce ash with a lower concentration of nutrients, but faster.
Fruit trees can also benefit from wood ash. Tomatoes wilt from calcium insufficiency and peas from magnesium.
When You Can Use Wood Ash?
Before you plant or when soil pH is not enough. This means that anything under 6.5 pH needs more magnesium and calcium. You can use it to fertilize your lawn, flowerbeds, or veggie garden.
When Not To Use Wood Ash?
- When you’re already at the perfect Goldilocks zone between 6.0 pH and 7.0 pH, which by the 14-point scales stands for neutral.
- Wood ash is added to alkaline gardens soil of 7.0 pH or greater to bind up micronutrients that crops use. Going too far could hinder the natural process of digesting nutrients.
- You cannot use it like regular fertilizer.
- Give the plants or lawn a light scattering of wood ash.
- When you have ash from coal or other fuel sources, as this will do more harm than good.
- Use only ash leftover from wood and other organic materials.
- When you have acid-loving plants like roses, raspberries, blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, holly, and more.
- When you have ash from pressure-treated lumber, MDF, leftovers from old painted wooden cabinets, other finishes, cardboards, BBQ grills, artificial fireplace fuel, and lumber lookalikes, as they produce toxic fumes and residue compositions, which you could use as an ingredient to timbercrete.
Wood Ash Enriches Compost Heaps
Adding wood ash to your compost heap has several benefits.
- It will add valuable nutrients to the compost and enrich the quality and fertility of soil..
- It neutralizes the pH of acidic compost. The decaying matter often becomes acidic, and wood ash will balance the compost and increase the pH. For best results, test the pH of your compost.
- Use wood ash sparingly on the compost heap to prevent it from becoming too alkaline.
Wood Ash Keep Pests Away
Apart from over-watering and disease, pests are the biggest threat to your plants. Wood ash is a cheap and effective alternative to control the wide range of pests.
All you need to do is lightly sprinkle a bit of wood ash around the plants you wish to protect. It is particularly effective against snails and slugs, species, and some soft-bodied invertebrates, known as being among the most destructive pests.
Wood ash not only keeps these guys away but salt and lye kill most organic matter thus snails, slugs, worms, and other insects die. They will surely stray from attacking plants in other areas of the garden.
Use it sparingly and replenish the ash after rain, regular irrigation, or windy weather.
Wood Ash Melts Ice On Driveways And Paths
In the winter months, many people have slippery paths in the garden or on the driveway. Again, wood ash is a quick and free way to tackle this problem.
If you sprinkle the ash on the ice or snow, it will help to melt it and provide some traction. It does not work as well as salt, but it is free and easy to do if you have excess wood ash. It also is no risk to paving or pets as it is completely safe.
Wood Ash Cleans Stains Off Paving, Bricks, And Stone
Wood ash is an effective way to clean paving, cement, stone, bricks, and asphalt. It even removes stubborn oil and grease stains. Wet the ash slightly to form a paste and rub or scrub the surface. It is wise to wear gloves when doing this.
Wood Ash Cleans Glass And Metal
Less-popular than it should be, but leftovers from burning hardwood does wonders to grease, grime or tarnish stains on both glass or metal surfaces. Be it something in your garage or cookery at home.
- Use a regular damp cloth,
- gloves to protect from acidic burns,
- and a mixture of ash and water.
- Scrub, clean, rinse and repeat if needed.
- As simple as that.
Tips For Using Wood Ash In The Garden
There are a few important points to remember when using wood ash in the garden:
- As mentioned, only use ash from wood. Never use ash from coal or anthracite, treated wood, or ash that contains any plastics or other contaminants.
- Do not use wood ash for plants that prefer acid soil. You also do not want to use it near potatoes as it can potato scab.
- Do not use too much in the garden or on the compost heap. Use it in moderation.
- It should go without saying but ensure the ash has cooled completely before using it. Some embers remain warm for a long time.
As we have covered, wood ash is a great free way to lower the pH of the soil, add essential nutrients, repel insects, and clean paving.
So next time you’re cleaning out the fireplace or garden incinerator, start using the ash to enjoy the benefits of a happy, healthy garden.
Playing With Fire is Dangerous
Proceed with a high alert, vigilance, and precautions when using wood ash at home. Make sure it’s well-contained and doesn’t contact your immediate surroundings as aside from chemistry, charcoal could smolder for weeks.