First and foremost this article is a bit of fun. Some of the ideas are perhaps just common sense, but others I think are really surprising uses for leftover wood ash. So, if you own a wood burning stove, and you’re looking for ways to make use of wood ash, then look no further!
I should say, that I have used all of the methods that I describe in this article, but to varying degrees of success! So as we we make our way through this list of uses for wood ash, I’ll give my opinion on how effective they actually are.
A little note of caution before we begin: these are just some uses that I’ve found good for left over wood ash. Now, that doesn’t mean you should do the same! So, before reading some tips from some random dude on the interweb, use your common sense and speak to a professional if you’re ever unsure.
1. You can use wood ash to help clean your patio and and external paving
So this was a bit of a happy accident for me. I found out that you can use wood ash to clean up your patio and external paving after accidentally spelling the contents of my outdoor fire pit.
Because wood ash is made up of fine particles, it works really well as an abrasive cleaning tool.
When you get it damp and scrub it against the surface of your block paving or patio, it helps to lift up green bits of algae and moss.
Now, don’t get me wrong if you do this, you’ll then have to have a way of rinsing away the wood ash. It’s not like it will magically disappear on its own. And if you leave it then you just end up with grey streaks across your patio and brickwork.
For me, I use wood ash when I first brush down my block paving. Then, once I’ve scooped away all of the gunk and bits, I blast it with a power washer.
How effective is this? Well, it depends.
You see a problem I’ve encountered before is of you try this with ash that isn’t very fine, and has little bits of charcoal in it, then you end up with black streaks on your paving.
There’s also the risk of really hard bits “scratching” against the surface of softer stone and mortar.
But, if I use the fine ash from my wood burning stove, then there’s very little charcoal/black streaks. And, if any do happen then they’re easy enough to blast away using a jet washer.
So, I’d rate this use about a 6/10. It does make the initial sweeping of the patio easier, but it also causes a mess.
2. Use wood ash to clean your wood burning stove glass.
I don’t really want to go into this one in much detail, as I have a decent and detailed article about how to keep your wood burning stove glass clean.
In the article I do go into the reasons why I’m not a massive fan of using ash to clean your wood burning stove glass. Pretty much, it’s because it causes additional maths.
However, that’s not to say it can’t be done!
Using wood ash to clean wood burning stove glass does help to remove built up creosote and black marks.
Basically all you need to do do is dip a wet paper towel into some leftover ash comma and wipe it over your wood burning stove glass in small circles.
Then, you get a clean paper towel and you you wipe away all of the wet ash on your window and it makes it sparkly and clean
Of course, as you do this you’ll likely to spill little bit of ash on your hearth and get ash on your hands, which is why it’s not my preferred method for keeping wood burning stove glass clean.
As a result I’d rate this use for leftover wood ash 7 out of ten. It works, but does cause a mess.
3. Use wood ash to clean up your BBQ grill
Ok, this is one of my favourite uses for wood ash. As mentioned above, wood ash is essentially made up of tiny abrasive particles. When damp, it makes excellent cleaning paste.
Now, the one thing I absolutely hate doing is trying to clean our BBQ you grill once it’s got some heavily baked on food of it
However, if you dip a wet sponge into to your leftover ash ash and rub this up and down your grill, then you’ll find and 90% of the baked on gunk will just flake off.
Then, with another round of scrubbing the remaining 10% will disappear as if by magic.
Hand on heart, I would rate this use for wood ash a 10 out of 10. Primarily this is because your BBQ grill will be sitting just above some leftover ash. So, there’s very little extra mess, and it’s just a nick that makes sense.
4. Use wood ash to rebalance the pH levels in your soil.
Now, this isn’t a tip that is going to be relevant for for most people, but if you do have have some overly acidic soil, then wood ash is a fantastic tool to rebalance the pH levels.
This is because wood ash is alkaline, and we all know no from our science lessons at school all that if you mix an alkaline with an acid than the pH level rises. That’s about it science-y as I’m going to get.
I’ve only used this technique once before, so I don’t really want to give it a rating for its efficacy.
My reason for using this technique was because we were replanting a flower bed that had previously contained a big rhododendron.
Now, a little bit of googling will let you know the the rhododendrons grow in acidic soil.
So, to counterbalance this and give our new (non-acidic) plants the best start, I shovelled in about a week’s worth of wood ash to the soil.
Now I also shovelled in in a few extra bags of compost, so I can’t hand on half say that the wood ash did the trick. However, the plants are still alive and well so something must have worked!
5. Use wood ash to defend plants against slugs and snails.
Now, I have perhaps saved the best tip till last. So sit tight!
You can use leftover wood ash to create a defensive perimeter around plants that are vulnerable to slugs and snails.
In in short, this used for wood ash is really simple. Just get some ash, sprinkle it a thick circle around your plant, and that’s it.
The slugs and snails, the theory goes, do not like sliding across such an abrasive surface and will leave the plants alone.
However, not all wood ash is created equal for this task!
I find that it’s best to use the less refined, chunkier bits of leftover ash. In my experience, ash that is is too fine will simply get blown away by the wind, or washed away whenever it rains.
Also, I found that this used for wood ash does not work if your plants are not in pots.
I think this is simply just because there’s more more room in a plant bed for a slug or snail to be hiding already within whatever wood ash perimeter you make. For me, I saw no no reduction in the amount of plants eaten in in my plant bed after making a ring of wood ash.
That said, whenever I’ve used this technique for plants in a plant pot, I’ve seen a huge reduction in the amount of holes in leaves!
As a result, I would rate this use for wood ash an easy 10 out of 10!
You do, however, have to top up your your wood ash perimeter every week or so so depending on the weather.
(Obviously don’t use this technique on acid loving plants, as overtime the extra wood ash will cause the soil to become pH neutral)
Summary: uses for leftover wood ash
Hopefully you found this article to be somewhat interesting, and a little different from those bigger websites out there that just seem to all say the same stuff!
If you’d like this article, then I think it’s a fair bet to say that you’re into wood ash! As a result you may be interested in my other article which is all about understanding how much wood ash to actually leave in your wood-burning stove.
Happy reading and thanks for stopping by.