10 Reasons You Should Never Throw Away Fireplace Ashes

We’ve found numerous benefits to having a wood-burning fireplace that goes beyond the comfortable warmth and ambience it provides. But did you know that you can use fireplace ashes for other purposes in your home?

fireplace ash with hand holding a small shovel and scooping the ash.

You can use fireplace ashes in many ways in your home and outside it. You can use it for melting ice on the road, pest control, amending soil, cleaning jewellery, and even making your own homemade soap.

In this article, we’ll delve into more details about what you can do with fireplace ashes to avoid wasting them.

Provide Traction On Icy Roads

We mainly use our wood-burning fireplaces in the winter months, so using the ashes to make our driveways or the road outside our houses less slippery.

If you don’t have gravel or road salt on hand, then ash can provide the same level of traction to ensure that you don’t slip.

We find that keeping a container of fireplace ashes in the boot of your car or even in your garage to use at home can be helpful.

If you find yourself in a particularly icy patch of road to melt the snow, as the potassium salts in the ashes will help speed the melting process up.

Pest Control

If we wanted to utilise more natural pest control, we found that wood ash is an excellent deterrent against specific pests.

All you need to do is sprinkle a small amount of wood ash around the plants you want to protect from ants, slugs, or snails.

It deters pests such as snails and slugs due to the salt in the ash, which can kill slugs and snails and reduce the number of pests interested in the plants in your garden. 

We recommend that if it’s been raining, you sprinkle some more wood ash in the areas you want to protect, as it will wash away in the rain. It will save you money that you would otherwise spend on insecticide.

This works inside your home as well. If you have an issue with rats or cockroaches, then you can spread some fireplace ashes in piles where you found the pests. For example, you may have pests in your basement or your garage.

Just spread some ashes around the walls and corners, and you should be able to deter pests from entering your home without needing any pesticides. 

Gardener adding ash to the garden. Rows of lettuce with ash sprinkled between.

Amend The Soil In Your Garden

We’ve found that wood ash is excellent for boosting your garden soil’s pH level, and it’s faster than other methods, as ash is water soluble. Most soils do well with pH levels between six and seven.

If it’s above seven, the soil is alkaline, while lower than six is acidic. We find that if the soil is between six and seven, then there’s no need to adjust the pH. However, some plants thrive at different pH levels, so we recommend researching first. 

Due to the nutrients in the wood ash, such as magnesium, aluminium, sodium, and phosphorus, it can provide nutrients to plants when needed.

While you shouldn’t use wood ash for no reason, we find that it can be helpful when making your soil more alkaline. However, it should be done with care, as using too much wood ash in one spot may have a less-than-desired effect on your garden. 

fireplace ash being shoveled from a bucket to garden earth.

Use Ash In Your Compost

If you have a compost bin, then adding a small amount of wood ashes can add more nutrients to the soil.

It is a form of compost tea, and you can make your own compost tea with wood ash by soaking your ashes in water for four or five days. You then just add it to your soil when needed. 

Like adding wood ash to your soil, adding wood ash compost tea will need to be applied carefully. A small amount can improve your soil significantly, but you should check the alkaline requirements for the plants in your garden first. 

Control Algae Growth

If you have a pond in your garden and algae grows, we can’t say that your fireplace ashes will kill the algae. However, we know that fireplace ashes can be used to control the speed at which the algae grows.

Due to the high levels of potassium in wood ash, the plants around your pond will be encouraged to grow by sprinkling some into your pond. 

Red brick fireplace. wood burning. Woman using poker stick.

Fire Control

Ash can be a great method to smother the fire, whether you’re camping or making your own bonfire. This is because we’ve found that wood ash forms a barrier that reduces the amount of air that comes into the fire.

If you haven’t got a fire extinguisher, soil, or sand, then wood ash is the perfect substitute to ensure that the fire is extinguished.

We recommend that when you extinguish a fire, you check that there aren’t any hot spots remaining by hovering your hand over it to check if any embers are still smouldering. Doing this will ensure your safety and will prevent your fire from re-igniting. 

Metal bucket on the ground, nearly full with fireplace ash.

Absorb Spillages Or Odours

You can use the wood ash from your fireplace to absorb odours and moisture around your home instead of relying on baking soda and other chemicals to reduce smells in your fridge, kitchen, or elsewhere.

All you need to do is put a little bit in a cup or bowl and put it where you want it to have the best effect.

We’ve found that it’s also a great way to remove spillages, even in your drive or garage. If you’ve spilt any oil, you can put some of your fireplace ashes down to ensure that it reduces the safety hazards as it will absorb the oil.

Not only does it reduce safety hazards, but it also reduces the risk of permanently staining the concrete. 

Make Your Own Homemade Soap Or Bleach

Historically, people used to make soap by combining water and wood ash to make lye, an essential soap component. Specifically, any ashes from hardwoods can be used to make your own homemade soap due to the amount of potassium they contain.

While it may take more effort than making your own bottle or bar, it can be a satisfying project.

In addition to making soap, you can use lye water from wood ashes and water to make a natural bleaching agent. We’ve found that making your own bleaching agent can be helpful if you don’t necessarily have bleach on hand.

You could even add a small cup when putting a load in your washing machine to remove some stains from your clothes. 

We recommend that if you make soap or bleach, you wear protective gear and get your instructions from a reliable source of information.

You may still be at risk of getting burned, so always ensure you are safe when making your own cleaning products. 

Light grey round soap bar with soap foam.

Cleaning And Polishing Silver 

If you find that you want to polish your metals and silvers so that they’re completely clean, you can use wood ash to get excellent results. All you need to do is mix a little bit of wood ash with water to make it into a paste.

We noticed that when we polished our silver with our fireplace ashes, we managed to save money, and it worked better than most expensive jewellery cleaning solutions. 

We should note that fireplace embers are better for larger silver items. You just need to put the paste on what you want to clean and leave it for about five minutes before you rub it off.

Meanwhile, if you have a smaller piece of jewellery, you just need to get a clean cloth to coat with a light amount of ash and rub it over the jewellery. 

Cleaning Glass

Much like how fireplace ashes can polish silver and jewellery, they can also be used to clean glass. Specifically, you can use it to clean the glass window around your fireplace.

While ash makes the glass dirty, it can also be used to clean the glass around it. So long as the area is cold, you can use your fireplace ashes with your glass cleaner of choice to make the glass sparkle again.

All you need to do is spray the glass cleaner on a cloth and the glass and blot it with the cold ashes. You can then rub it onto the glass, and we’ve found that it produces an outstanding result that makes it look as good as new. 

Hand and arm in yellow glove, holding cloth. Cleaning glass door to a wood burning fireplace.

Final Thoughts

Fireplace ashes have so many practical purposes, so you don’t have to throw them away. They can be recycled for different purposes, so they’re helpful to have on hand!

Hopefully, with our advice, you’ll be able to find new uses for your fireplace ashes and have a more eco-friendly method of using them in your home.

Not only is it perfect for garden use, but utilising your fireplace ashes is a great way to save money on cleaning materials for your home and protect yourself from pests. 

Stevie Morris