A fire pit makes a comfortable, cozy setting for s'mores and socializing. The wood ashes it leaves behind make a mess. Before you throw those ashes away, you might be surprised to know they can be used for many things around your yard and in your home. We've got a few great ways you can use ashes from your fire pit this year.
Ash is great to keep away many different kinds of pests. You can put it in the dark corners of your house or line the outside doors to keep cockroaches away. Their outer shell is hard and doesn't do well with ash.
You can create a circle of ash around crops to prevent slugs and snails from coming across the plant beds. Mushrooms are easily taken over by pests, so it's a perfect way to keep snails out.
Ash repels ants when you place a pile of ash over their anthill. They'll notice they need to move the nest.
Ash can help take care of your animals. It is great for chicken supplement because it has potassium and calcium. The charcoal in the ashes actually helps treat intestinal parasites and prevent diarrhea. For chickens, it's also good to use in their dust baths with sand. It acts as a desiccant on lice and mites.
Ashes can be used as a natural flea treatment. Like the popular natural treatment of diatomaceous earth, the tiny particles in ash leave little cuts on the flea bodies. This causes them to dry out and die. You do need to wash it off after a day because most pets don't like the ash on their body.
You can also use ash to deodorize your pet bedding. Sprinkle it along the top of the bedding to rid of odors.
Making soap from ashes is almost too easy. If you've ever gone camping and thrown some ashes from your fire into your frying pan after dinner, you know the lye in the ash combines with the fat leftover from the cooking to make soap. You can then use this soap to clean off your utensils and plates.
Next step, you can even make bar soap. You start with lye water and animal fat. The lye can be made by straining boiling water through your ashes. Once you have lye water you should concentrate it by boiling off some of the water. Be very careful with the lye water, it can burn your skin and eyes.
The final step is to combine your lye water with warm animal fat. Mix it vigorously, then let it sit for about 15 minutes. Repeat this process until the lye and fat are completely mixed. Finally, pour your mixture into molds and let them set up for several days. Remember our ancestors had to get clean using what they had on hand, if you like, you can too.
Ash provides a natural way to clean things around your home. In many ways it acts as a cleaning paste. One great way to clean with ash is as a stove glass cleaner. Scrub the dirt off the glass with water and ash mixed together.
You can also use it to clean your car headlights. The debris that gets on your headlights is easily wiped away with this type of paste. It can also be used to polish/clean your silver. The tarnished silver is quickly transformed, shining once again after the paste is rubbed on each piece.
Use In Ponds
Ash can actually control the growth of algae in your pond. Ash contains micro-nutrients that plants love. Ash also contains potassium which boosts aquatic plants that are rooted in ponds. They naturally compete with algae so this helps them stay on the same level. The growth of algae in the pond is less. The hard thing is to not put too much ash in the pond. You only need one tablespoon per 1,000 gallons of water.
Compost piles can get a great boost from ashes. In some areas, bears and rodents are attracted to a compost pile. Throwing a bit of wood ash on these piles will keep away these pests. Many of the animals love to dig in the compost piles. They don't enjoy the ash getting in their eyes and all over them while they dig, so they tend to run away looking for the next pile of trash.
Compost piles are usually acidic. Wood ash is alkaline. Adding wood ash to your compost piles can help to neutralize the acidic condition.
Stain and Odor Removal
Ash can help around the home with stain and odor removal. Ash acts like baking soda. It helps absorb odors. You can add a small cup of it in your refrigerator to test this theory. It's great when there are small pieces of charcoal still in the ash. This helps boost the odor absorption.
When you mix ash with water it forms a paste which can then be rubbed on stains. This usually works best right after a stain occurs and before it completely sets in. Again, it acts like baking soda when applied this way.
Ash can also clean up oil spills. If you want to hide stains on concrete or clean oil spills, place ash over it. It works like cat litter absorbing the spill.
In Your Garden
Ash is a great fertilizer for the garden. Tomatoes have a hard time with calcium. They get those ugly black spots because they can't get enough calcium. Egg shells and bone meal are calcium rich. The are often added to tomato gardens to increase calcium. Ash does the same job as egg shells and bone meal. It provides them the extra boost of nutrients they need. They only need about 1/4 cup of ash for each tomato planting hole.
Ash contains tiny minerals that comes from inside the wood. These minerals can boost all of the vegetation in your garden. They are like medicine to plants. Ash is made up of calcium carbonate and other trace minerals. Though ash doesn't contain any carbon or nitrogen, your plants can get a dose of each from other elements in your compost.
You need about five gallons of ashes per 1,000 square feet of your garden. Remember ash will raise the pH of your soil, so it isn't to be used with crops that soak acid. Otherwise, you will be left will high alkaline soil and your plants will not grow properly.
Other Practical Uses
If you live in a place that often gets icy, ash can be used as an ice melt. The natural minerals in it work just like salt. It can be used to melt the ice around your walkways and driveways. Remember it's not pleasant to track inside your car or house.
It might seem like the most obvious way to use ashes, but not everyone thinks to put fires out with ashes. If you have a campfire in the backyard or in the fire pit, use ashes to put it out.
Another practical use of ashes is as a deodorizer. It works to absorb smells. Whether in the compost pile or your bathroom, ashes might come in handy to cover bad odors. You can even store wood ash with your clothing to keep out moths. Instead of that foul smelling moth ball, you'll have something that actually fights odors. Keep your clothes away from the ash so it won't stain them. You can do so put putting it in a jar without the lid.
Store Ashes Safely
It's important to store your ashes safely. It's best to place them in a covered metal container. This container needs to be placed on a cement or brick slab. It must be three feet away from any combustible surface. Do not store it anywhere with wood or other material that can burn or is combustible. Embers capable of starting a fire may still be in the ash and could ignite. Even if you think there are no active embers be cautious. You can never be too careful when dealing with fire.
How To Dispose Of Fire Pit Ashes
Let the fire go completely out before handling the ashes. Always remove your ashes carefully with a shovel. Ensure there are no active embers. Once you are sure there are no active ember, put the ashes in a metal container. Pour water over the ashes in the metal container. Then put the lid on top. Never use cardboard or plastic containers in case there are any active embers.
Leave the ashes sit in the metal container for a few days. Next, drain off the water in the container and put the ashes in a garbage can or garbage bag. On garbage day, put the garbage can or bag out with the rest of your garbage.
In conclusion, wood ashes have many purposes. Instead of disposing of them next time you have a fire, use these ashes for your benefit.