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Wood ash for melting ice

Posts: 3269
Location: 4b
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I had no idea where to put this, so homestead it is!

This is one of those things I thought everyone in rural areas knew, so I hope the reaction to this isn't "Yeah, no shit", but I've told enough people personally that didn't know that I thought I would pass it on.  Maybe it will keep one person from getting stuck, or busting their ass on a frozen path.

Wood ash melts ice.  The slipperiest driveway in the world can be greatly improved by a light sprinkling of it.  My driveway is pretty steep, and without ash, I would have to park on the county road that connects to my driveway until spring. It's simply impossible to climb, and that's in 4 wheel drive with a load of wood in the back.  Sprinkle the wood ash down and you have instant traction, and I can drive up easily, well before the ice has melted to any appreciable degree. That leads me to believe that the components of the ash may be sharp enough to provide traction through that mechanism as well as the melting action.  Come back an hour or so after sprinkling the wood ash down and you'll see that the ice is nicely pitted wherever the ash touched it.  I don't drive anywhere in the winter without a 5 gallon bucket of it in back of the truck, or a cat litter container in the trunk of the car.  I have helped more than one person drive out of an area that would have needed a tow had I not had wood ash with me.

In addition to the driveway, the path to the chicken coop, to the outdoor dog run, really anywhere I routinely walk in the winter, gets packed down and turns to really dangerous ice.  All those areas get the wood ash treatment.  Pellet stove ash seems to work even better than ash from the fireplace.  Good luck, and safe travels.
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