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Homeowners with wood-burning heating appliances are often unsure of what to do with their excess ashes after a long burning season. In fact, burning a cord of wood can produce as much as 50 pounds of ash! Instead of throwing ashes away, consider recycling them in your garden!

While many homeowners consider ashes a necessary nuisance, they have a number of surprising alternative uses. In the spring and summer, this mineral rich substance can be used to keep your garden lush, green, and beautiful. The following are just a few of the ways that you can recycle your ashes.

Recycling Ashes

  1. Block snails and slugs. Instead of using insecticides to keep pests away, reach for your fireplace ashes! Sprinkling ashes around the edge of a flower bed or garden plot keep pests such as slugs and snails away by creating a natural barrier. Refresh the ash barrier several times throughout the season.
  2. Add alkalinity to the soil. Because they are naturally alkaline, adding ashes to soil can change the pH. Mixing in a few ashes with potting or gardening soil can create a more alkaline environment, ideal for many flowering and ornamental plants.
  3. Reduce pond algae. If you have a water feature such as a fountain or pond, fighting against algae can be difficult. Ashes can be used as a natural alternative to harsh chemicals to keep pond algae away, making them ideal for homes with pets or small children who may come in contact with the water. Only a small amount is needed; adding as little as one tablespoon per 1,000 gallons of water adds enough potassium to control algae growth.

Storing Ashes

No matter how you plan on using your ashes, it is important that they are stored correctly. First, a special metal ash container with a handle that does not sit directly on the ground should be used. This is important because “Wood ashes retain enough heat to ignite other combustible materials for several days”. Ash containers should be placed away from other combustible materials to prevent accidental fires. If you have more ashes than you could ever use in alternate ways, check with your local sanitation company on the guidelines for safely disposing of ashes.

It is important to note that ashes from treated wood and other commercial wood products should not be used in gardening or other alternative uses; this is due to the chemical compounds in the wood that can remain even after burning. If you use commercial wood products such as fire starting logs, keep those ashes separate from those where only wood was burned. Likewise, check with the individual manufacturer to see if the ashes are safe for use in the garden.

There are a number of alternates – and surprising – uses for your remaining wood ashes. Help naturally improve your garden by recycling your ashes outside this summer! For more information on alternate ways to use your wood ashes, contact Jack Pixley Sweeps today.