What to do with wood ash?



I have a wood burning fireplace which I use on occasion, and I have a decent amount of wood ash each time I have a fire. How can I dispose of the wood ash without just throwing it in the trash? I live in an apartment so I can't just chuck it in the woods. I thought of using it in compost but I see online that wood ash should only be used sparingly so as not to increase the pH too high.


Posted 2013-02-03T18:51:11.970

Reputation: 1 038

1Do you know a gardener? Have you considered a P-patch? – Jay Bazuzi – 2013-02-04T05:25:46.560



I found an article at this old house which listed ten ideas that I filtered down to these which might work in a city apartment:

  • Melt Ice. Spreading ash along the surface snow and ice covered walkways gives extra traction and helps melting due to the darker color absorbing more sun energy.
  • Clean glass fireplace doors. You can use a damp sponge and dip it in some ashes to scrub away sooty residue on your fireplace doors (if you have any).
  • Enrich compost. But as you said, this must be done sparingly.
  • Hide stains on paving. This one seems pretty rare to need, but if you spill some paint on pavement, you can mix in ashes to obscure it and spread with your foot.
  • Pump up tomatoes. If you are doing any small gardening in your apartment, plants that like calcium rich soils can benefit from some ask mixed into their soil.
  • Make soap. IF you are feeling ambitions, you could soak some ashes in water to make lye. Lye can be mixed with animal fat and then boiled to make soap. Adding salt makes it harden when it cools.
  • Shine silver. A paste of ash and water makes a nontoxic metal polisher.


Posted 2013-02-03T18:51:11.970

Reputation: 2 571

3+1 for Make soap! That would turn it into something useful, and can use up a sizable volume. – Highly Irregular – 2013-02-03T21:25:51.740

2Instead of mixing in to compost, mix the ash directly in to soil where you are growing things. It is rich in potassium ("potash", right?), so it makes a good soil amendment. – Jay Bazuzi – 2013-02-04T05:23:48.430

6If you mix ash and water (which many of these items suggest), you are making lye. It's such a powerful base that it can be dangerous. – Jay Bazuzi – 2013-02-04T05:24:43.503