A fire pit is a perfect centerpiece for your outdoor gatherings. There's only one problem–fire pit ash. How do you safely remove ash from your fire pit? Once removed, what do you do with them? We've compiled a list of ways to put your fire ash to work.
1. Elevate Your Soil
One great use for wood ash–it can boost the pH of your lawn’s soil quickly. Ash works faster than limestone since it's more water-soluble. The first step is getting your soil tested to determine its pH. Most garden and lawn soil does well with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0. If it gets higher than 7, it’s considered alkaline. If it's lower than 6, then it’s considered acidic. If your soil's pH level is already between 6 and 7, there’s no need to alter it.
Some plants, including certain flowers and vegetables, thrive at other soil pH levels. For instance, tomato plants require a lot of calcium and potassium and typically need soil amendments that provide high amounts of these nutrients. Because plant roots are inefficient at absorbing potassium and calcium from the soil, you don't want overly acidic soil (it will be low in those nutrients). If your garden soil is overly acidic, amend it to promote healthy vegetable production in your plants.
Are Ashes Healthy for Plants?
In addition to potassium and calcium, wood ash is also made up of other nutrients in smaller amounts–including phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and aluminum. Certain plants, such as alfalfa, corn, and hay, actually remove nutrients from the soil. Amendments and crop rotations are used to reintroduce them. Wood ash can provide these nutrients.
Ensure you don't add ashes directly to plants’ stems or leaves. If necessary, rinse off the plants after application. Select a day when winds are calm to avoid misapplication and, as always, use proper face, eye, and skin protection during application.
2. Add it to Your Compost
A sprinkle of wood ash can be a great addition to your outdoor compost pile or indoor compost bin. Adding a small amount to each layer of compost will add nutrients to the end soil or “compost tea".
3. Keep Harmful Bugs Away
Nothing ruins an outdoor hangout like pesky bugs. Wood ashes can deter and repel certain pests. Sprinkle a light amount around susceptible plants. Reapply after rainfall.
4. Cleaning Solution
Searching for a glass and metal cleaner? This one's cost-free. Wood ash, mixed with a bit of water, can be used to buff up metals, remove adhesives or residue, and clean dirty glass. Mix the ash and water to create a paste and apply the solution with a cotton cloth. Test in a small spot at first and always wear protective gloves.
5. Homemade Soap
The earliest soaps were made on homesteads by mixing water and wood ash to create lye, a necessary component of soap. Ashes from hardwoods (such as hickory, ash, or beech) are perfect for this purpose because they contain the right amount of potassium to produce lye.
6. Traction for Slippery Walkways
Like salt on snow-covered sidewalks, wood ash can provide traction underfoot. You may even want to keep some in a closed metal container in your vehicle to help you get out of a slippery spot. Just be careful to not track the ash into the house.
7. Soak Up Driveway Messes
Changing your car's oil? Spill something that might stain? Wood ash can absorb the spill. The driveway’s dark asphalt will hide the ash’s color, and you should be able to simply sweep up the spill afterward.
8. Fire Control
Have you ever “smothered a fire” at a campsite by shifting ashes over hot coals? If so, you know that ash can be a great air-tight barrier that will help extinguish flames.
Wood ashes can be used to put out a fire when an extinguisher, sand, or soil is unavailable. Always fully extinguish a fire and ensure no embers are left smoldering as they may reignite. A final check for hot spots guarantees your fire won't reignite later.
Safely Removing the Ashes for Use
Remove ashes from your fire pit safely and easily with the Walden Ash Scoop. The extra-large scoop will help you catch more ash with each scoop–allowing you to test out many of these fire pit ash uses. Have questions about safely removing ashes or general fire pit safety? Contact Walden Backyards by calling 800-977-0034 or visiting our website.