Ash is the residue left after burning something. Depending on what you burn, the composition of ash will differ. Generally speaking, wood ash contains calcium carbonate (25-45 percent), potassium (up to 10 percent), phosphate (1 percent), and a little bit of manganese, copper, iron, zinc, etc.
Did you know, in Ayurveda, metals and alloys are burned to turn into ash and used as herbal formulations for various diseases? What if I tell you wood ash is a very useful item for your home and garden?
Multiple Uses of Wood Ash in Home and Garden
I come from a farming family in Nepal. I have seen multiple uses of wood ash in the home and garden. I don’t know when did we start using wood ash in the way we are using it, but the tricks were taught to my mom by her mom; my mother’s mom learned from her mom. This all goes back to generations.
A lot of us use firewood for various purposes, for example, in the fireplace, in the bonfire, in the griller, etc. However, many of us ignore the remnants of the woods we burn, i.e. ash. But did you know you can use wood ash in so many ways? Here are some of the uses of wood ashes in your home and garden. The uses of ash mentioned in this article are not the points picked from a random site on the internet. These are time-tested and have been in use in my family for generations.
- Use to kill parasites in your chicken
When you add a 1/2 inch layer of wood ash to the floor of your chicken coop, it will suffocate parasites such as mites, lice, fleas, and ticks if you sprinkle in your chicken coop. It also serves as their food supplement. In the wild, it was discovered that numerous bird species feed on charred branches of trees after a forest fire. Ash also improves the laying capacity of your chickens because ashes contain nutrients such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Ash works as a laxative and detoxifier, flushing toxins out of the body and expelling internal worms. It will also help chickens to heal their open wounds as the ash has antibacterial qualities.
2. Use wood ash to maintain soil pH
As mentioned above, wood ash contains many nutrients including potassium, calcium, zinc, etc. The potassium content of ash which is around 3-10 percent, when comes in contact with water will form potassium hydroxide. Potassium hydroxide can maintain soil pH. Wood ash has alkalizing property, thus when you use wood ash in the soil it reduces the acidic property of the soil.
3. Wood ash as fertilizer for your plants
Since wood ashes contain nutrients needed by the plants, it serves as an organic fertilizer. Wood ashes contain 25-45 percent calcium bicarbonate and about 10 percent potash. Wood ash also contains numerous other nutrients although in a smaller amount. For instance, wood ash contains less than 1 percent phosphate, and traces of iron, magnesium, aluminum, sodium, etc. NPK or Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are the three primary nutrients for plants. Wood ash contains a moderate amount of Potassium and little amount of Phosphorus, zinc, iron, etc. Since wood ash contains a low amount of nutrients, it is a low-grade fertilizer. The NPK ratio of wood ash is about 0-1-3.
Even though wood ash is low-grade fertilizer, due to its high content of Potassium, it is considered good for tubers and root vegetables like sweet potato, potato, carrots, radish, garlic, onions, beets, etc. You can also add wood ash to your compost to raise the quality of your compost. If you are worried about the odor while making compost, you can simply sprinkle a layer of wood ash and stop the odor from getting on your nerves.
4. Wood ash kills weeds
Though there are no specific studies that have established that wood ash can kill weeds, yet if you ask organic farmers, they will tell you they have been using wood ash to kill weeds in their gardens for ages. A lot of gardeners and farmers use wood ash as mulch to stop weeds from growing. However, you have to be careful with this technique because it can also kill your seeds or saplings. If you will kill weeds using ash, let your soil rest for about 2 weeks before planting.
5. Serves to fill mouse holes
Fill mouse holes with wood ash and seal it compact but you need to refill it once in a while. Pests like mice are one of our major problems as a farmer and a gardener because they are eating our plants. So fill those holes and get rid of these mice.
6. Kill ant mounds
Sprinkle a good amount of ash over the mound of ants to get rid of ants in your garden. Wood ash contains sodium which deters the ants.
7. Use as a cleaner
Did you know that ash can be used as a cleaning agent? Wood ash can clean and sanitize your clothes, floors, windows, silverware, and plates, and even remove rust. You can make wood ash cleaner by boiling 2-3 spoons of wood ash in a liter of water for 10 minutes, and filtering it with a cloth or coffee filter. The water can be used as a cleaner. You can also use wood ash as a dishwasher. Mix wood ash in water to make a paste, rub the mixture on your dishes and then rinse with water.
8. Use as a pesticide and fungicide
Yes, that’s right, wood ash is a good pesticide and fungicide. In order to use wood ash as a pesticide and fungicide, sprinkle some amount of ash around your plants but not in the base of the plant, to deter pests. This will keep slugs, bugs, beetles, and leafminer away. In the cold season, you can dush wood ash on your plants to stop frostbite.
9. Make soap out of ash
You can also make a bar of soap from wood ash, you can use this soap as a dishwashing bar or even to wash clothes, in case you are hand washing your clothes. Ash soap may not be as good as commercially manufactured soap, however, they are good because the ash soaps are 100 percent natural and don’t damage your hands. Wood ash contains potassium, when potassium comes in contact with water, potassium hydroxide is formed. Potassium hydroxide is also called caustic potash which is a good cleaning agent. Add water to the wood ash, add a little amount of line juice, and mix it well, now keep this mixture in a mold to make a soap bar.
10. Wood ash prolongs tomatoes’ life
Wood ash is a very powerful antifungal agent that you can sprinkle on your plants to stop fungus from spreading. Interestingly, you can also use wood ash to keep your tomatoes fresh. All you have to do is fill a bucket with ash, keep your tomatoes inside the bucket, and sprinkle some wood ash
Did you know any of these uses of wood ash in your home and garden? Please share your thoughts in the comment section. By the way, make sure the ash you are using did not come from cardboard, plywood, painted wood, or any other pressure-treated wood.