I heat with wood. I burn about 2 full cords a year. So I produce a fair amount of wood ash. I think many people spread wood ashes on their garden. I have done that in the past but our native rock here is limestone so the soil is naturally alkaline and spreading wood ash on the garden may not be the best idea. So to get rid of ash I have started spreading it on my permanent pastures that my cows graze in the summer, but the pastures probably dont really need the alkalinity either but spread out over 50 acres, my 100lbs or so of ash per year will likely not have any effect. I cant really think of a better use other than maybe slepping it out to the back forty where my woodlot is and spreading it where it came from but in the deep snow thats not a lot of fun. I wonder if there is a better 'permacuturie' thing I could be doing with this resource. What do you think? How do you use your wood ash? I know I could make soap with it but that seems like a lot of bother and I'd never use all the ash I produce.
The sun's a light bulb and the moon is a mirror-- Gord Downie
Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
posted 3 years ago
If you do any metal working light dry ash is a great insulation providing a way to cool stuff slowly. Works when heat treating or when welding cast iron. I prefer coal fly ash because it is easier to handle but wood ashes work well too. Helps if they are fresh out of the stove so they are still hot and absolutely dry.
It can be used to make a natural glaze for pottery. Most common method would use the ashes that had already been leeched for lye because the leeching removes certain chemicals making for a better glaze. But some methods use dry ash or unleeched ash.
If you mix some ash with the dirt in one of your chickens dust bath areas you give them an option of stronger vermin control. If they only have one area then only mix it in part of the area. If one area is roofed so it doesn't get rained on that is the one where the ash should go. It can burn their skin so only add a little at a time and mix it well with the rest of the dust. Then watch their behavior. They will know when they need this tougher dust bath and use it then.
The other common permies answer I am aware of was to use if for pest control in outhouses. Each time the outhouse is used some a cup full or so of ash is sprinkled in.
These are minor uses, quantity wise, but important even so:
1. In cooking. Clean ash (without paper, paint, charcoal chips, etc.) can be used in cooking as a substitute for baking soda and baking powder too, so long as an acid source, such as vinegar, is also added to the recipe. Corn products particularly benefit nutritionally from the calcium boost. Hominy...the immediate precursor to masa and tortillas, is made by boiling flour corn in a strong solution of ash and water till the skin slips.
2. As an insect dust. Cutting diatomaceous earth 1 part with 3 parts ash is almost as effective as straight D.E. for slugs, earwigs, etc.
3. As a deodorant added to cat litter and humanure buckets.
4. As a calcium supplement to homemade chickenfeed.
I heat with wood also and end up with a fair amount of ash. Here is what I do with it, some usage has already been mentioned above.
Perfect for cleaning the glass in front of the stove. Damp cloth dipped in a bit of ash, rub, rinse and dry.
I use it as a scouring pad. I clean all pots and pans with it - small amount of ash, a bit of water and a cloth or bare hands, rinse and dry
Laundry detergent. Equal amount of ash and cold water, mix, filter. Use as normal detergent
Dust bath for chickens
Into the compost
Around the fruittrees On icy paths
In cooking, as mentioned above for baking but also a pinch of ash will help to cook pulses faster
I am sure there are more ways but these are the few at the top of my head.
I have found that ash does not work with slugs for me. I believe that it was the sharp clinker from coal burning that was a deterrent more than the ash itself.
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