Don't throw away fireplace ash: 12 possible uses you may not know about

by Mark Bennett

January 29, 2024

Don't throw away fireplace ash: 12 possible uses you may not know about
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Having a fire (in the fireplace) is a great way to heat the home and makes for a cozy ambience. But perhaps not everyone knows a fireplace can be useful even after all the wood has been burned.

Fireplace ash is usually thrown in the garbage, but this by-product can be very useful both at home and in the garden.

Used from 1700 to 1900 for the production of potash (an alkaline potassium compound very useful as a raw material for industries), fireplace ash was often recycled by our ancestors for various purposes.

From cleaning chores to fertilizing plants, we detail below 12 possible uses for fireplace ash:

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1. Lye

1. Lye

Trapped_in_a_hug/Reddit

The foremost use of fireplace ash is in the preparation of lye, a compound that can be easily made by simply mixing ash with tap water. With it's strong whitening power, lye can be used both as a pre-treatment and detergent when doing the laundry.

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2. Compost

2. Compost

lalalalicia/Reddit

You can add a handful of ash to your compost heap to add important nutrients for your plants; alternatively, soak the ash in water for 4-5 days then use the water to water your plants. Use the ash in small quantities to avoid making the soil excessively alkaline and pay attention to the acidity requirements of your plants.

3. Odor absorber

3. Odor absorber

Rubbermaid Products/Flickr

Just like baking soda, fireplace ash can also be useful as an odor absorber. Fill a small bowl with ash and place it in the refrigerator, shoe rack, wardrobe, closet or any room that has an odor issue.

4. Preserving seeds

4. Preserving seeds

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If you have purchased some seeds but are not yet ready to sow them, you can keep them for longer by storing them in ash: fill an airtight container with a layer of ash, place the seeds on top and cover them with another layer of ash before sealing the container. 

5. Putting out a fire

5. Putting out a fire

Walid Mahfoudh/Flickr

Ash forms a barrier that prevents a fire from spreading and can be useful for putting them out too. Use ash to suffocate a fire in the absence of a fire extinguisher.

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6. Cleaning the windows

6. Cleaning the windows

needpix

Are you familiar with the dark film that gets deposited on the glass door/s of the oven and fireplace? You can remove this stubborn grime with ash: gently rub the ash on the glass using a sponge, then rinse off with water. Your glass will be as good as new!

7. Keep snails away

7. Keep snails away

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By sprinkling ash around your flowerbeds or your plants, you can keep snails at bay without causing any damage to the environment or posing a risk to animals and pets.

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8. Gritting

8. Gritting

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Like gravel, ash can also be sprinkled on slippery surfaces as grit to create better friction and ease the passage of vehicles.

9. Making soap

9. Making soap

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With lye (see above), it is possible to make a DIY soap which you can use for household cleaning chores.

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10. Remove the odor of skunks

10. Remove the odor of skunks

Smithsonian's National Zoo/Flickr

If you (or you pets) have ever had an "unfortunate" encounter with a skunk, you certainly know how difficult it is to get rid of the foul odor. In addition to tomato juice, another way to deal with this is with ash, which is much more convenient to use  - especially if you need to remove the stink from your pet's fur. Just rubbing your pet's fur with ash will eliminate the unpleasant odor.

11. Cleaning metals

11. Cleaning metals

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Ash mixed with a little water will form a slightly abrasive paste capable of cleaning and polishing silverware and other metal objects: use it to clean cutlery, ornaments, trays or jewellery - you'll be amazed at the results!

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12. Clean stains from the driveway

12. Clean stains from the driveway

Jeff Djevdet/Flickr

If your car has an oil leak or if you have accidentally stained your driveway with an oil, you can clean this by sprinkling the oil stain with ash: after letting this sit for a few hours to absorb the oil, you can simply sweep it up with a broom.

Did you already know about any of these ash-based tips?

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