What to Do with Fireplace Ashes

Reader Contribution by Kerry W. Mann, Jr. and Homesteadhow
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by Adobestock/glebchik

From poultry dust baths to toothpaste, learn what to do with fireplace ashes by reading through our list of 30 uses for wood ash.

We process tons of firewood each year on our homestead. Nothing is better than a warm fire on a cold snowy day, especially when that fire was made possible from firewood you cut, split and stoked yourself! But what about all the leftover ash? There are so many uses for firewood ash and in todays post we are going to share 30 uses for firewood ash.

Fireplace Glass Cleaner

Glass doors on your fireplace or woodstove notoriously become stained with creosote and soot.

A bit of the fine ash on a damp sponge can be used  to scrub it away! Wait for your wood stove to cool down completely before trying this.

Glass-Top Stove Cleaner

The same method per above can be used to clean your glass top stove. Make an ash paste using the ash and a little water.

Be sure you are using only the fine powdery ash to make your paste.

Boost Your Hen’s Laying Power

Use wood ash to supplement your chicken feed. You may be pleased with better lay rates and longer laying periods.

Mix in the wood ash with your chicken feed at a 1% ratio. This may even help to reduce the smell of your chickens, um-well stinky eggs!

Freshen Up Your Fridge/Freezer

Similar to how baking soda absorbs odors, wood ash will do the same. Only ash is free and you probably have a lot of it!

Use about a cup of fine wood ash. Put it in a mason jar or a small bag towards the back of your refrigerator or freezer.

Wood Ash Toothpaste

Your grandparents probably did this! YES, you can even brush your teeth with wood ash.

Adjust Acidic Soil

Wood ash is an excellent soil amendment for heavily acidic soil.

You can use ashes to help balance the pH of acidic soil. It’s best to test the pH of your soil first before applying.

The best time to do this is before planting when you can amend it directly into the soil.

Improve Your Compost

To improve your compost throw in some ash, this boosts the nutrient-dense environment that’s cooking in your compost.

Prevent Snails and Slugs by your plants

Snails & slugs can ruin a garden.

Stop these guys in their tracks by making a circle of ash around plants susceptible to snails and slugs.

Save Crops from Frost Damage

When the temperatures start to fall, nothing is more worrisome than the thought of frost!

Ash can also help with crops such as, insulating your plants when you are worried about frost, with some ash.

Dust-Bathing Chicks

Chickens love to take dust baths! In the winter, our sand and dust is covered with snow so we provide an artificial dust bath with ash!

Dust Powder Protection for Your Animals

In the same vein, rubbing ashes into your dog or cat’s fur can help kill fleas as well as deodorize their fur. Try it on your farm animals such as your goats, cows and more to decrease the pests.

Deodorize Your Chicken Coop

Put a thick layer of your wood ash, also use some charcoal chunks, in the chicken coop before adding whatever litter you use on top to keep your chicken coop fresh and clean. This helps with the smell and bugs that you may have in your chicken coop.

Control Litter Box Odor

You may have guessed it, the odor-absorbing power of charcoal saves the day again.

Wood ash was the original cat litter, after all, used by cat owners before the invention of commercial clay litters. Sprinkle about a cup of ashes with a few smaller bits of charcoal into clean cat litter and mix it in.

Undo a Skunk Encounter

It’s every dog owner’s worst nightmare, and it always seems to happen at night as you’re getting ready for bed. Use it while you’re showering your dog. No need to waste all those tomatoes.

Keep Your Silver Shining

I don’t know anyone that enjoys polishing silver, but you can use wood ash to make the job a little easier.

You’ll want to make a thick paste using the more fluffy white ash and some water.

Smear the paste on your silver item and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it off and rinsing off with water and if needed soap.

Make DIY Soap

This tip is one of the more commons because we have been using this for a very long time…

But here is a great DIY for making soap using the ashes from your wood stove.

CAUTION: lye is caustic and can cause burns, be careful, and wear the proper protective equipment.

Prevent Pond Algae

Give your aquatic plants the upper hand by feeding them potassium-rich ash. In turn, they will thrive leaving the algae without the nutrients it needs to survive.

When it comes to using ashes in the pond, you do not need to use much, like they say a little goes a long way! Off the Grid News states that you should use roughly one tablespoon per 1,000 gallons of water.

If you aren’t sure of your water volume, proceed with caution; start small and add a little more if you think so but make sure not to use too much.

Stop Mice and Other Household Pests

There is something about ashes that drives rats, mice and other household pests away.

Use this natural pest control to keep them out of your house without having to use dangerous and toxic chemicals. Sprinkle little portions of where it’s needed.

You might want to use this technique in your attic or garage. Just sprinkle a little in the corners!

Protect  Fine Fabrics

Protect blankets and clothes from moth damage by giving them a little sprinkle of fine wood ash before putting them into storage.

Simply brush off the ash and wash as usual when you bring them out of storage.

Dry Shampoo

Wood ash has been used as a dry shampoo long before all the fancy dry shampoos today. Start with a small amount, a pinch or two of powdery ash should do. Just add it to where you wish. Massage the ash into your scalp and roots as you would a normal shampoo.  Wait a few minutes for the ash to absorb the excess oil then flip your head down and fluff your hair again to shake out any excess. Then brush your hair out.

Wound Care

Wood ash has been used to treat wounds for very many years.

It’s thought to have antibacterial properties and to speed clotting. There was even a study by ISRA University, which showed that wounds (to a rabbit) that were treated with wood ash healed quicker than those that were not using wood ash.


We have learned that wood ash helps absorb odors and oils, so why not use it for a deodorant. Don’t get me wrong it obviously won’t smell too good, so if you are going to use this you might want to use essential oils.

Free Fire Extinguisher

Ash makes an inexpensive fire extinguisher, smothering flames and depriving them of oxygen. You might want to keep buckets in places where a fire could easily break out. You also might want to use this method if you have a fireplace in your home.

Grill Cleaner

Mix up a paste using ash and water and apply evenly to the grates and the inside of the grill. You could also use the ash and water and mix it with the animal fats leftover from the grilling and make a natural soap.

Let them sit for a few minutes and then give them a scrub!. Rinse well with water. You might want to wear some gloves for this chore: the soap may be pretty drying.

Save Seeds for Next Year (Keep them Dry)

Seeds that aren’t properly stored lose their viability and won’t grow well. Saving the seeds in a good insulated container or whatever you use to store your seeds is the way to go! This will help absorb any moisture to help keep them ready for next year’s garden!

Soak Up Oil Spills in the Garage

Have you ever once wanted to be able to change the oil on your vehicle without making a mess and splashing oil on the ground?

Well if you have, you can use that wood ash to soak up your oil spills. Then sweep it all up and then all you need is to dispose of it properly.

Hide Stains in Concrete

Once you’ve cleaned up your oil spill put down a second layer of ash on the ground and rub it in. Ash is great for hiding stains and discoloration especially on concrete, as it is almost the same color!

Make Ants to Relocate

Dumping ashes on an ant hill will help get rid of ants. Best of all it’s not toxic or poisonous. It’s simple just use the ash and dump in on the ant hill and soon enough they will be gone!

Pet Paw Safe Ice Melt

Keep your sidewalks ice free and your pets paws safe this winter. When the ice begins to show up, sprinkle some wood ash on your sidewalk or any other walking paths to melt it off without the concern of using an ice-melting product that could be harmful to your pets.

Vehicle Unstucker! 

Store a little plastic container of ash in the trunk of your vehicle. If you get stuck, the ash works well to gain some traction and also melts the ice!

In conclusion, don’t waste your firewood ash. There are many uses for it.

Kerry W. Mann, Jr. moved to a 20-acre homestead in 2015, where he and his family use modern technology, including YouTube and Instructables.com, to learn new skills and teach homestead projects. Connect with Kerry on his website at Homestead How.

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