Keeping your fireplace ashes mostly cleaned out makes for better air circulation around your fire, and the ashes can be useful in the garden. This guide is about uses for fireplace ashes.
As long as you follow a few simple precautions, wood ashes can be used to benefit the garden in three ways: as a fertilizer, as a soil amendment, or as an insect repellent.
I need some ideas on what I can do with all the wood ash from our wood furnace and fire place. In the winter we use it like salt on the snow and ice. But what can I use it for now? Is it good in the garden?
By Diva53d from Foymount, Ontario
You can actually buy Real Wood Ashes on Amazon. Just found it!
1 Pound of Oak Wood Ash (Ashes Natural Fertilizer, Change PH Levels in Soil, Ward Off Slugs, Protect Plants Over Winter, Control Pond Algae, Boost Your Organic Tomato Plants, Compost, Make Soap, Shine Silver)
Use ashes from your fireplace to sprinkle in your garden. It wards off slugs, as well as many other harmful insects. The ashes act as shards of glass as they crawl on the dirt.
Have a chimney? Here's a different use for your wood ash. It could be used for any household cleaning needs that requires scouring. It can also be used in the garden as fertilizer and if you have a pen for livestock, the ash can be sprinkled on the floor and animal droppings before sweeping. Saves you a few pennies that would have been used to buy cleaning detergents. (Did you know that wood ash, specifically that of the palm tree, is one of the two ingredients for making native soap (the other being palm kernel oil) in some parts of Africa)
By NY from Upper Darby, PA
Don't know what to do with those ashes? This is a tip for those who have ash from a wood burner or fireplace. Place it in your garden or flower beds over winter, not all in the same place, just here and there.
If you have a fireplace or wood stove, take your ashes and put them around your plants. Your plants will grow better, and less or no weeds will grow there.
Can I use wood ashes on my pineapple and apple tree?
Hardiness Zone: 8b
Robert from Montverde, Florida
No one said pineapples grew on trees. If you look it says
pineapple and apple tree, not pineapple tree.
What can I do with wood ash? Besides tossing in the woods. What garden plants or veggies like it?
We put our wood stove ashes in the garden. My husband roto-tils it all in and it is good for all vegetables.
During these winter months when fireplaces are in high use, you will generate quite a bit of ash. We clean out our fireplace into a paper grocery bag. The bag is then rolled shut tight down to the level of the ash and placed into a storage tub with a secure lid. One tub will hold quite a few bags.
These bags will be periodically be added to our compost heaps throughout the Spring and Summer. I even take one or two out the pile now and simply place the bag in the pile. Wet weather will break down the bag and keep the ash from blowing around.
Wood ash has a lot of uses. Here are just a few suggestions.
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I put mine on the garden and in the chicken yard (keeps down the smell and insects) chickens will dust bathe in them too. They are better for icy walks and steps than salt, as they don't kill the grass or eat the cement like salt can. You do have to keep a rug at the door or take off your shoes at the door. Ashes and melted ice make for great tracks. Carry some in the trunk of your car in a milk jug. iI you get stuck or have to walk on ice you have your handy ashes. (09/28/2006)
When I have wood ashes I pour them on the soil where I will be planting radishes. No worms. Epsom salts works too. (09/28/2006)
I also put them on my vegetables in the garden to get rid of aphids, worked last year on collards and Swiss chard. (09/28/2006)
They used to make soap from animal fat and wood ash. Probably a stretch for 2006, but then there are worse hobbies, too. (11/17/2006)
By Dan - Iowa
I have used ashes and mayo on wood - it works great when you have a lot of wax buildup, but I would not try and use to for polishing. Note: make sure the ashes are free of debris, for that will only scratch the table. I sifted mine before using it to eliminate the problem. Also, scrub very gently when first applying; you can always scrub harder later. (12/02/2006)
If you want to mix it with your compost pile it will delay the decay reaction, but I mix it with some 10-10-10 first in a bucket with water to make sure there are no live embers. Mixing it with the fertilizer helps make a more potent compost. (11/01/2008)
Ashes can also be used as leavening for bread by putting the ash in a box, mixing plenty of water in and catching it in a pan below the box. This was a colonial method, but is still done in parts of the Appalachians and elsewhere in the world. Another way is just catching the wild yeast from the air of a room with the fireplace. This method is found on the internet by searching "wild yeast roundup".
Ash from coal especially has reflective properties that will melt ice and snow super fast if the sun is out. That is more cinders than just ash I guess.
I use it mostly to make walking safer and my path easier to see when I go out to milk the cows and check the greenhouse and chicken coop. Most of the time I am doing it in the dark on the way there in the morning and in the dark on the way back at night. Really helps a lot. (01/29/2009)
Fireplace ash (wood ash) can be safely added to most garden soils, with a few exceptions. Depending on the type of tree burned, wood ash varies in alkalinity and will act as a liming agent in the soil, raising the pH. This makes it a useful additive if you have acidic soil or compost heaps that you want neutralized. Root crops, bulbs, annuals and most perennials will find it beneficial. Tomatoes seem to love it. Because of its alkaline nature, you should avoid giving it to acidic loving plants like rhododendrons, azaleas, cranberries or blueberries. It may also promote potato scab when applied to potatoes. Store fireplace ash safely in a metal garbage container and apply it to plants in the spring. Wood ash is easily absorbed into the soil so you only need 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch to dress flowerbeds. Wood ash from treated wood contains the residue from harmful chemicals and should not be used in the garden.
Other ways to use wood ash are as a slug repellent around plants, a glass cleaner (use on fireplace glass-rub with newspaper) or as a melting agent (provides traction on snow and ice). It's also used as a boiling agent to break down cellulose plant material when making homemade paper.
By Ellen Brown
I don't know about fireplace ashes on plants, but I do know its the absolute best for putting on icy sidewalks and stairs. Its also great for putting behind and in front of your car tires when the roads are icy or snowy to give you car more traction. (12/04/2000)
Wood ashes add potash to the soil. They also help to keep soft bodied insects off plants (aphids and such). This time of year I add them right to the garden soil. (12/04/2000)
By Stan - Michigan
Ashes can be used on walkways when they are slippery. Put some in a box and carry some in your car and it will give you traction when you are stuck on ice. (12/04/2000)
By D - Lancaster, PA
Here's a link that might be helpful to you: http://ruralwideweb.com/tufwashes.htm. There are about ten different uses for the ashes, most of which are applicable to those in rural areas. As a bit of advice, avoid putting fireplace ashes around roses or other plants that are acid-loving. If you mix the ashes with your regular compost (or bag of fertilizer) it will stretch the product and feed your plants as well! (01/29/2003)
When I work in my yard and burn leaves, tree limbs and any other wood trash you'll find in the yard, I let sit for about two days to cool (scattering thoroughly) then I put the ashes on my azaleas. They thrive on acid soil and this it the best I've found to make my garden do well. You can actually see the difference in the dark green leaves in about 3 days! (10/18/2005)
I always put them in my yard and not the trash, so I won't add to the landfill. (10/19/2005)