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wood ash as a cleaning agent?  RSS feed

 
master steward
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I don't know why I woke up wondering this morning, but for some reason, I imagined that wood ash could be used for cleaning some things in the house.

I think one would have to be careful not to get lye burns, but possibly if it was sifted it could be used as a scrubbing agent in the toilet?  

Any thoughts on how and/or if we can use wood ash for cleaning?
Staff note (Nicole Alderman):

Eeep! When I linked in the weeklyish to this thread and the Sharing Excess food thread, I somehow made the link the same for both. Here's the link to the Sharing Excess Food -- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly thread. I'm so sorry about the confusion!

 
pollinator
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Raven,   Wood ash makes cleaning the glass on any type of wood stove pretty simple. Just dip a damp rag into the ash and swirl around. The caked on blackness usually comes right off. Stubborn spots may require a few applications or let it sit to soak in for a bit before trying again. Sure beats having to purchase store bought chemicals that may or may not work as well as ash does which is free and is always in good supply!

Also, at the risk of sounding cheeky, if you were to make soap from that same wood ash, you could use it to clean just about everything else!
 
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I use wood ash to clean my copper pots and any cookware that has badly burned food in it (don't judge my cooking haha!)
sure beats soaking and scrubbing with a greenie.
 
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I am going to test out the ashes on the woodstove glass.
I do have some glass cleaner that works like a champ, but using what I already have on hand is more my style.
20181009_153849.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20181009_153849.jpg]
Lots of glass
 
pollinator
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I've read in multiple places that wood ashes can be used in hand washing. I'm not sure about the efficacy or if lye burns are an issue but they could be

https://www.wvi.org/health/intervention-6-hand-washing-soap

 
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My Dad told us that back in the 1920's/30's they used wood ash to clean their teeth.

I've never tried it - spoilt by the minty freshness of the modern ooze.

 
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20 uses for wood ash, from a homesteader. Several of them involve cleaning, including teeth (but not the ash from conifers), metal and glass. Also deodorizing, which sounds like cleaning to me.

https://www.newlifeonahomestead.com/20-uses-wood-ash-homestead/

 
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Here are some ash clever recipes i found from DOM - who runs the kefir site out of Australia:


Tooth Powder 3.0
washed wood-ash*** see below on how to make
sea salt
cold pressed neem oil
olive oil
milk keifr
kefir grains
baking soda (not a lot, maybe none)
clay
water

METHOD FOR PREPARING DOM'S TOOTHSAVING PASTE
This is the easy part. After the 12th washing above, we are left with a sediment of spent ash at the bottom of the container. Pour the ash slurry in a piece of pre-moistened clean white cloth sitting in a colander or sieve. Let as much water drain from the wet ash as possible over 1 hour. Keep the cake of spent ash aside.
In a mortar, mix kefir with unrefined sea salt and grind with a pestle for about 2 minutes to dissolve the sea salt. Pour the mixture in a separate bowl. Add neem seed oil and spent ash paste in the mortar and grind with a pestle for a least 10 minutes. You must grind the ash as fine as possible, so that no large particles remain, but a slurry of very fine particle size. Add the salted kefir to the slurry with the essential oil and then grind for another 5 minutes. Pour the toothpaste in a clean glass jar and seal the jar airtight.
That's it, Dom's ToothSaving Paste is made and ready to use.
Storing Dom's ToothSaving Paste in a clean glass jar sealed airtight with a lid prevents the paste from drying out. Mix the paste with a spoon before each use, to remix any water back that may separate during storage. Leaving the tooth paste sit in the sealed jar for about 2 weeks thickens the paste a little, as it matures. This is due to a reaction between the oil and ash. Similar to soap making, it matures with age!


METHOD FOR PREPARING SPENT ASH
Before we commence, please be sure to ware protective hand gear, so doctors, please put on your surgical gloves.
Sift the wood ash with a sieve to remove most of the charcoal as possible. Any small pieces of charcoal left with the ash after sifting is acceptable.

Place the collected sifted wood ash in a tall cylindrical container.

Add about 8 cups of boiling hot water to the ash.

3a] To separate unwanted elements from the ash such as sand, stir the contents well and then quickly pour off as much ash and water as possible into a separate container. But do not tip the container over fully, for you want to leave a small amount of sediment at the bottom of the first container. This sediment contains sand and other unwanted heavier elements. Now discard the sediment, wash the container and pour back the ash and water mixture back into the working container. This step can be repeated one more time by adding cold water to the ash to ensure no sand and grit remains in the ash. These elements will be abrasive and they scratch and wear away tooth enamel when the toothpaste is ready for use. After this, omit this step in the repeating process.

Stir the contents well for 1 minute and let stand for 15 minutes so that the ash can settle at the bottom of the container.

Slowly pour off as much clear ash lye water as possible so that only wet ash is left at the bottom of the container, with a smallest amount of water left with the ash sediment as possible.

Repeat from step 3, doing so 12 times all up. Remember to omit step 3a.
What we should be left with is a gray muddy slurry. This is your SPENT WOOD ASH. Now, lets' move on to the next step, shall we?!....



***How to Prepare Wood Ash Lye Water [a Powerful Natural Liquid Detergent]

Wood-ash lye water is prepared by mixing fluffy gray wood-ash mixed with water. The ash must be prepared by burning natural and untreated wood. This is to say, wood which has not been painted, stained, or chemically treated in any way what so ever. The fluffy gray ash is first sieved to remove any pieces of charcoal. The sieved ash is added to about 4 to 5 parts hot or cold water. The mixture is stirred for a few minutes then left for 12 to 24 hours. After this the ash settles to the bottom of the container to form a sediment. A clear solution will form on top of the ash sediment. Pour off the clear solution, which is your wood ash lye water. Lye water has a slippery feel similar to soapy water. This solution is used as a liquid detergent. Ash lye needs to be diluted with hot water for use, similar to any liquid detergent. A stronger lye may be prepared by bringing 1 : 3 [ash to water by volume] to a boil and then letting it sit for 12 to 24 hours before pouring off the clear solution of lye water. Store the lye water in a separate container.

The partially spent ash that remains, still contains high amounts of potash alkali, which can be reused to make more lye water. Simply add more hot or cold water to the ash sediment, and let stand. The ash may be used again, over 3 to 5 cycles, or until the solution ceases to produce a slippery feel. Well spent ash may be composted, or sparsely scattered over the garden. Do no water plants directly with the ash lye water solution for it will burn plants! This is because ash-lye is very alkaline and caustic to plant roots if used concentrated. I mostly add a little kefir to the spent ash, to neutralize each other, so that the ash is neutralized from an alkaline state to a base, and the acidic kefir is neutralized from an acid to a base. This can then be safely poured around trees that are well mulched. To protect sensitive skin, one should wear gloves when handling ash or undiluted ash-lye water.

let the ash sit in water which we change every day for about 2 weeks with fresh water. So the water that it soaks in after 2 weeks has very low caustic properties.  run magnets through our wood ash so that ll metal filings are removed.



Laundry “Detergent” 2.X

Ash Lye Water

To wash with ash lye water, add say about 1 cup of lye water to 4 litres or 1 gallon of hot water. Use this dilution for washing as you would wash with any other detergent. Then simply rinse what you've wash with clear water. Depending on concentration of the lye, will determine how much lye water is diluted with hot water. You can tell by the feel of the lye solution with your fingers, if it has a slippery feel, then it has the power to clean, and clean well it shall.

General Method

Place the natural fibre or utensil in a pot and cover with a solution of wood ash lye: 1 cup of lye water to 4 litres or 1 gallon of hot water.
Bring to a slow boil and simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring the material continuously with a spoon. Remove the material and rinse well with cold water.
Place the natural fibre utensil in a suitable pot, cover with 1/3 cup of unpasteurised vinegar to each 4 cups of water.
Let sit at room temperature for 12 hours to 24 hours.
Remove and rinse well in hot water. Or, bring to a slow boil and simmer for 1 minute then rinse utensil with cold water.

***How to Prepare Wood Ash Lye Water

Wood-ash lye water is prepared by mixing fluffy gray wood-ash mixed with water. The ash must be prepared by burning natural and untreated wood. This is to say, wood which has not been painted, stained, or chemically treated in any way whatsoever. The fluffy gray ash is first sieved to remove any pieces of charcoal. The sieved ash is added to about 4 to 5 parts hot or cold water. The mixture is stirred for a few minutes then left for 12 to 24 hours. After this the ash settles to the bottom of the container to form a sediment. A clear solution will form on top of the ash sediment. Pour off the clear solution, which is your wood ash lye water. Lye water has a slippery feel similar to soapy water. This solution is used as a liquid detergent. Ash lye needs to be diluted with hot water for use, similar to any liquid detergent. A stronger lye may be prepared by bringing 1 : 3 [ash to water by volume] to a boil and then letting it sit for 12 to 24 hours before pouring off the clear solution of lye water. Store the lye water in a separate container.

The partially spent ash that remains, still contains high amounts of potash alkali, which can be reused to make more lye water. Simply add more hot or cold water to the ash sediment, and let stand. The ash may be used again, over 3 to 5 cycles, or until the solution ceases to produce a slippery feel. Well spent ash may be composted, or sparsely scattered over the garden. Do no water plants directly with the ash lye water solution for it will burn plants! This is because ash-lye is very alkaline and caustic to plant roots if used concentrated. I mostly add a little kefir to the spent ash, to neutralize each other, so that the ash is neutralized from an alkaline state to a base, and the acidic kefir is neutralized from an acid to a base. This can then be safely poured around trees that are well mulched. To protect sensitive skin, one should wear gloves when handling ash or undiluted ash-lye water.

let the ash sit in water which we change every day for about 2 weeks with fresh water. So the water that it soaks in after 2 weeks has very low caustic properties.  run magnets through our wood ash so that ll metal filings are removed.



 
pollinator
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Sounds like some interesting uses and recipes.

Knowing how bad I am about splashing when I pour stuff back and forth, I would probably suggest safety glasses!🤓
 
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I would be surprised if cleaning with wood ashes resulted in a lye burn.  My spouse started making lye out of wood ash this past year.  We tried using it on dishes without much luck, but it's great on laundry.  The point is that I wash dishes with ungloved hands and while the lye certainly reacted to the oils in my skin, making my hands feel unclean to me, we're simply not able to make lye at a high enough concentration to be dangerous in that way.
 
Peter Chan
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on DOM's website, he warns that the ash, before it is "spent" can burn the skin....

also...

i think the general rules i've read in foxfire books, etc, is that if you can dissolve a feather (maybe just the hairs, not necessarily the spine) in the lye water, it is potent enough to use to make soap (and probably way to toxic for skin), or if an egg floats with about a quarter size bit floating above the water, it is also ready to make soap with.  so, you could test your water i guess after adding the ash and see what happens?  

 
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