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How To Use The Ashes You’ve Accumulated All Season

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After a long winter of using a wood burning fireplace, many homeowners are left with large amounts of ashes. If your family burns a full cord of wood, you could produce as much as 50 pounds of ashes over the course of the winter.

While most homeowners just throw their ashes away, there are a number of alternate uses for ashes – particularly in the springtime. The following are just a few of the ways that ashes can be used both inside and outside your home this spring. 

1. Block garden pests. Slugs and snails are naturally repelled by ashes; sprinkling ashes around the border of a garden or flower bed can create a natural barrier for these pests.

2. De-skunk pets. Wild animals are more prevalent during the spring than during other times of the year; because of this, household dogs and cats may have an unfortunate run-in with a skunk. Instead of running to the store to buy cans of tomato juice, use fireplace ashes instead. Rubbing ashes into a pet’s fur can help quickly eliminate offensive odors from an accidental skunk spray.

3. Control pond algae. If you have a fountain, pond, or other water feature at your home, it can be difficult to control pond algae without the use of harsh chemicals. Adding 1 tablespoon of fireplace ashes per 1,000 gallons of water can create enough potassium to allow water plants to compete against algae growth.

4. Add alkalinity to lawns. Fireplace ashes are naturally alkaline; this makes them an ideal natural additive to change the pH of soil. Adding a small amount of ashes to lawns or potting soil is all that is needed to change the alkalinity.

5. Make your own soap. Ashes can be used as an unexpected ingredient when making either soap or candles. Begin by soaking ashes, which can turn them into lye; this can then be mixed with fats and fragrances and boiled to produce candles and soap.

6. Absorb paint. If you’re painting outside, don’t let splatters permanently stain your cement. Mix ashes into wet paint spots on the pavement; the ash and paint will blend together and prevent staining.

Storing ashes

Whether you’re waiting to use your ashes for a household project or are simply storing them before putting them out with the trash, it is important that fireplace ashes are correctly stored. Even if they are destined for the trash, ashes should be stored in an ash-specific metal container for several days; because wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days, they should never be placed with regular waste to prevent trash or dumpster fires.

Ash containers should sit off of the floor, have a long handle, and a tight-fitting lid. Likewise, ashes should not be stored in an area around other combustible materials; keep ash containers away from woodpiles, garages, sheds, and other buildings to reduce the risk of accidental fire.

This year, don’t throw all your ashes away with the rest of the trash. Instead, try one or more of these alternate uses for the ashes you’ve accumulated all season. For more information about how to properly store or dispose of fireplace ashes, contact Clean Sweeps of Michigan today.