Wood ash has many amazing benefits. Yes! That powdery grayish substance you see after burning a wood at home or in your farm is actually…very useful!
Whether it’s in medicine or agriculture wood ash provides great value. For instance, in medicine, you can use wood ash to make a bathing soap. In agriculture, you can use it to treat and restore the pH level of an acidic soil.
There’s so much more you can do with wood ash. We have covered it for you in this article.
WOOD ASH MEDICINAL USES
Whether it’s for making soap for bathing or for killing bacteria in infected wounds, wood ash has amazing health and medicinal benefits. Below are some health benefits of wood ash.
- Soap making
Many years ago (around 2,200 BC) ancient Babylonians made the first soaps by mixing animal fats and wood ash. The ash from hardwoods boiled in hot water produces Iye. Iye mixed with vegetable oils or animal fats creates a soft soap. For a firmer soap, add a little salt to the mixture.
With wood ash from softwoods, you can make your toothpaste. And it’s pretty simple. Take a small amount of wood ash and mix it with equal parts of one or more of these substances: baking soda, orange peels, lemon peels, turmeric, cinnamon, anise, cloves, activated charcoal, bentonite clay, xylitol, and calcium carbonate. Pour the mixture into a blender and grind for 30 seconds, and you’re all set. Grab your toothbrush, dip it in water then into the powdered mixture and brush your teeth as you would with toothpaste obtained from your local store. The Iye in wood ash eliminates plaque and whitens your teeth. But daily use of ash for the teeth can damage your enamel, especially if you have soft or weak enamel. As a result, we advise that you shouldn’t use it regularly.
- First aid
Wood ash has antibacterial properties that prevent an open wound from being infected. Like cornstarch, it helps to reduce and stop bleeding. When swallowed, the Vitamin K in wood ash works to help blood clot and can reverse the effect of the Coumadin in rat poison.
- Controls impurities in water
A chunk of charcoal added to your water can help keep bacteria and algae from forming. Plus, it helps absorb and filter out impurities from your water, while adding minerals to it.
USES OF WOOD ASH IN AGRICULTURE
Wood ash has numerous uses in Agriculture. Some home gardeners use it to improve the PH of the soil in their gardens, while others use it as a nutrient supplement. Below are more benefits of using wood ash in Agriculture.
- As potassium supplement
Ashes from the fireplace and wood-burning stoves can be a good source of potassium. They also provide phosphorus, aluminium, magnesium, and sodium, but in small amounts only. Wood ashes also contain a few micronutrients like boron, copper, molybdenum, sulfur and zinc. The amount of nutrients in wood ash isn’t particularly high, and it often depends on the type of wood burnt. But if the soil in your garden has little or no potassium, mixing it with wood ash is a great choice.
- Improves soil PH
Wood ash is an amazing option for boosting the pH level of your soil, especially if the soil is acidic. Most wood ashes have a good percentage of calcium carbonate (around 25 per cent). Calcium carbonate is an ingredient in garden lime that helps improve the pH of acidic soils. If your soil is acidic (has a pH of 5.5 or lower), adding wood ash can raise its pH.
Adding wood ash to a neutral or alkaline soil can have adverse effects, though. It may raise the pH of the soil to levels that can affect the plant’s ability to take in nutrients. For acid-loving plants like rhododendrons and blueberries, don’t add wood ash around them.
DISADVANTAGES OF WOOD ASH IN AGRICULTURE
Wood ash has heavy metals like cadmium, chromium, and lead. These are metals you don’t want in your soil or garden. But it is unclear whether plants absorb some of these metals if the soil has a pH above 6.0. However, if the presence of heavy metals in your soil disturbs you or you are worried about the extended use of wood ash in your soil, you should consider testing it in the lab.
9 OTHER USES OF WOOD ASH
- Compost booster
Adding a small amount of wood ash to compost piles can boost it. Dusting a bit of wood ash on the top of the pile, especially if it’s open, keeps off animals like bears from digging into it.
- Prevents calcium deficiency in tomatoes
If you notice black spots on your tomatoes, it means they lack adequate calcium. One common practice is to add eggshells and bones to tomato planting holes to provide them with calcium. However, wood ash can do the same job. Just add ¼ cup of wood ash to each tomato planting hole and scratch it into the soil before setting out the transplants.
- For ridding unpleasant odours
Like baking soda, wood ash can absorb and neutralise bad odours. Set a bowl of wood ash in a smelly bathroom or room to remove the unpleasant odour. Replace it after a couple of days. Wood ash also works great when mixed with kitty litter. It can even be used to de-skunk animal pets.
- As metal or glass polish
Because wood ash is mildly abrasive, it is a perfect choice for polishing tarnished silverware, dull metals and cloudy glass. Dip a wet sponge in wood ash and apply it to the glass or metal. Or you can add a little amount of water to a cup of ashes to make a paste. Use rubber gloves to spread the paste on the silverware or metal you intend to polish. Let the paste sit for a few minutes before using a clean cloth to wipe it off.
- As fertilizer for your lawn
Wood ash is a perfect substitute for lime and can help promote greener pastures. But make sure to wet the soil where you applied to ash to prevent the wind from blowing it off.
- For melting ice and snow
Most people prefer rock salt for melting ice and snow growing on their driveway. But this is unhealthy as rock salt can increase the number of salts of nearby fresh bodies of water. It is also extremely toxic to fishes and other water animals. Wood ash is a better and safer alternative to rock salt. It provides traction and can de-ice snow and melt snow. Also, unlike rock salts, wood ash does not corrode surfaces like concrete and metal. Plus, it does not harm your pet’s paws or damage your plants during spring.
- For removing stains on driveways
Because wood ash is a desiccant, it is a great option for wiping off grease spills in garages and driveways. Desiccants are drying agents that have a high affinity for water and are used to remove moisture. To remove grease stains from a porous surface like stones and asphalt, sprinkle some amounts of wood ash on the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes and then use a broom to sweep it all up.
- For deterring snails and slugs
These creatures can consume a lot from your garden. They are particularly drawn to tender young plants which they consume pretty fast. To prevent snails and slugs from ruining your garden crops, add small amounts of wood ash around each plant. You can also add long lines of wood ash along the perimeter of your garden. Wood ash has amazing drying properties, and with this in place, those snails and slugs will think twice before crossing over to nibble on your garden crops. The drying effects of the ash will keep them away. But make sure that when applying the ash around the soil where you have your crops that it doesn’t have direct contact with your crops.
- For reducing ammonia in your chicken’s manure
Studies have shown that wood ash can absorb ammonia effectively. Add charcoal to your chicken feed for a more ammonia-free output from your chicken.