How to Recycle Firewood Ash for Yard Use

SIr Gawain/CC BY-SA 3.0 license/Wikimedia

To divert the high costs of fuel, many homes re-lit their fireplaces. The fires provide radiant heat, making a chilly room feel cozy. So, after burning a few cords of firewood this winter, what will you do with the ash? Here are a few suggestions.

Instructions

things you’ll need:

Shovel

Bucket

Large plastic container with lid

Old cooking oil

Vegetable shortening

Lawn seed spreader

1 Collect your fireplace ash in a bucket. Cover and reserve until you can get
outside. Ash naturally contains lye, which is Potassium Hydroxide. It is
beneficial to a number of applications.

2 Sprinkle the ash around the base of your trees. It strengthens the roots,
softens the soil, and contributes to overall tree health. If your trees bear fruit,
you will notice the difference in the quantity and quality of them.

3 Spread the ash across your lawn for a lush, green lawn. Water every other day
during the summer months.

4 Spread the ash in your garden. It will enrich your soil and help it yield more
produce. This borrows from the Native American agricultural technique of slash
and burn.

Slash and burn agriculture is where the stalks of the old crop–or the vegetation
growing in an area marked for cultivation–is slashed or cut down with a
machete. Then, the plant material is burned, producing ash that is then turned
back into the dirt for the new growing season.

5 Are you an artist? If so, the fireplace ash makes great charcoal for sketches.
Look for the sticks and twigs, or wood pieces that didn’t burn all the way
through. Mist them with a spray or two of water and set aside for your next
creative session.

6 Make soap! Long ago, this was a common practice. Collect the white ash,
which is from the wood that burned on a very high flame, and place it in a nonmetal
container, such as wood or plastic. Lye for making soap was extracted
using an old wood barrel.

The barrel was filled with the wood ash, and then water was poured in. A hole
was made in the lower side of the barrel, so that the water could trickle through
the ash and out into another container. This was then used in the soap-making
process. For more information, visit the link below.

7 Use the lye water to help clear your drain! You may have to pour it in, let it sit,
plunge, and then pour hot water down.

8 On the heels of soap-making, how about collecting some wood ash in a large
plastic container, such as those used for commercial quantities of cooking oil,
and pour in the old oil from your kitchen. Add some water to it, and shake the
container periodically. Leave it outside to catch some sun.

Okay, what is this doing? Well, it’s sort of a basic soap. Use the heat of the sun
to help the saponification process. After some time, pour this around the yard–
at the base of trees and bushes–not too much at a time. This will help soften
the dirt.

This is from the advice of avid gardeners and plant specialists who put a drop
or two of dish soap in their houseplant pots!

9 So, we’re coming out with a lot of ‘products’ from the nature around us. Let’s
relearn how to respect the earth that serves us. Enjoy!

Tips & Warnings

You can reuse the ash from your summer barbecue, or outdoor firepit!

Wear gloves when handling the ash. It’s caustic.

Wear a face mask when handling dry ash.

Resources

How to Make Lye From Scratch Using Wood Ashes and Water

Making Soap from Wood-Ash Lye

Fireplace Ashes for Lawn and Garden Use