With the way climate change is going, many of us are trying to reduce our carbon footprint. This comes with smaller feats like deciding what to do with our fireplace ash. 

Typically, we just throw our fireplace ash out. This just adds to the growing trash in landfills. So many of us wonder, can fireplace ashes be used for anything?

There are luckily many useful things to be done with fireplace ashes! From gardens to using to make things like lye! 

Are fireplace ashes good for the garden?

Using wood ash in the garden can be a wonderful way to help lessen your impact on the environment through pesticides and other unnatural garden products. Ash has a lower pH and as a result, can help lower the acidity of compost. This is crucial to maintaining adequate soil for your plants. 

Another use for fireplace ash in the garden is to help prevent pest infestations. Many pests like slugs do not like ash and as a result, will avoid it. This can help stop the use of pesticides in your garden.

This can help to prevent the excessive use of pesticides. Pesticides can run off into waterways, which causes long-term problems. Wood ash fertilizer is a great free way to help replenish nutrients in your plants. Wood ash for plants can be used in plenty of ways as well. 

According to the University of Missouri, “If small amounts of wood ashes are applied to the garden on a yearly basis to supply other nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium, a soil test every two to three years is recommended. Excessive application of wood ashes can lead to a buildup of pH above the optimum range. This can result in other nutritional problems because of reduced nutrient availability at high pH values.” This is saying that the wood ash from your fireplace can help benefit the environment by adding phosphorus and potassium!

Other wood ash uses in the garden

  • Ice melting
  • Compost additive
  • Pest control
  • Soil alkalizer

Which plants like fireplace ashes?

Most plants enjoy a small amount of ash. The exception to this is acid-loving plants like blueberries. Stone fruit trees like peaches can thrive with a small amount of ash around them!

Is wood ash safe for chickens?

Ash can be a wonderful way to help prevent pests in chickens. Adding it to their dust bath can not only provide enrichment but help prevent various pests in your birds. Chickens and other poultry will love to roll around and eat wood ash as a natural wormer and pest control!

Some important considerations are things like making sure there is no screws or nails inside the wood ash that could cause issues in your flock.

rust and broken chimney box

Can you use wood ash for cleaning?

Fireplace ash can be an excellent way to clean up metals. It is loved as a metal polish. Another wonderful use for wood ash is the way you can use it to make lye.

Lye is a compound which is also known as Sodium hydroxide. Lye from wood ash is a fascinating process and the resulting compound is frequently used to make soap and used as drain cleaner.

Natural wood ash pest control

Fireplace ash can be used as a pest control for a variety of insects. Other than the garden and chickens, wood ash can be used around the home to prevent a variety of pests. Pests like cockroaches do not like wood ash and will avoid it.

Fireplace ash can be used for fleas on your pets as well!

It is possible to prevent roaches from infesting your house by spreading ash in dark corners.  Fireplace ash won’t be able to penetrate their hard outer shells, so they won’t set up shop in your home.

An anthill can be alerted to relocate its nest by placing a pile of ash on top.  Therefore, the nest will not be destroyed; however, it will need to be packed up and moved, which is ideal when removing nests away from children’s play areas.

What does wood ash contain?

Fireplace ash can contain many compounds inside of it that can be beneficial for plants and other uses. The main components are potassium and phosphate which are crucial to plant development.

Due to the alkaline tendencies of fireplace ash, it is a great soil amendment.

Another great way that ash can be used as an absorbent. Commonly, ash can be used to absorb smells and other stains that other things just cannot get out! Ash can work similarly to baking soda in absorbing odors around the house.  Put a small jar in the refrigerator to absorb odors.  It is even more effective if there are still small pieces of charcoal in the ashes to assist in this process. Ash absorbs humidity and prevents mold growth in moist areas.  In a damp cupboard or basement room, place a cup of wood ashes. 

2 girls having fun outside of a fireplace

Other uses of fireplace ashes

Fireplace ashes have been used for many different applications including:

  • Tattoos
  • Medicine
  • Toothpaste
  • Tanning hides
  • Cooking applications

In the bronze age, people used to use ashes inside needles for primitive type tattoos. Ötzi, the oldest iceman ever discovered, was found to have the oldest record of tattoos!

Combined with local defense mechanisms, the topical application of ash appears to be superior to other types of wound care treatments as it reduces super infection and enhances epithelialization. That means ash can be used as a natural healing agent on skin!

Like baking soda, ash can be used as natural toothpaste and remove plaque from tooth surfaces!

Tanning hides can be made easier with the application of ash!

Ash can be used in cooking. From being used as a leavening agent to removing tannins from things like acorns. Leavening is used to make baked goods like biscuits. Ash can be processed into a leavening and help rise biscuits in the oven! Acorns have a bitter taste when not properly treated. By using ashes, you can help remove these tannins from the acorns to have a great sustainable food source!

Remember to have your chimney swept to help ensure the safety of it!