At the end of every winter, you’re left with the same messy pile of fireplace ashes in your backyard. These ashes are unsightly and may be potentially harmful to your family’s health if not disposed of properly, but there are tons of things you can do with them besides getting rid of them completely.
What to Do with Fireplace Ashes
Here are some ideas on what to do with fireplace ashes.
Use Them for Gardening
For those who are lucky enough to have real (not artificial) wood-burning fireplaces in their homes, there is a bonus use for those fireplace ashes. Put them to work in your garden! Just add ash directly to your flower beds.
Ash has been used for hundreds of years as a great fertilizer for trees and plants. You can create a 50/50 mix by mixing equal parts ash and soil. Keep in mind that not all types of trees will grow well when fertilized by ashes; however, many conifers thrive on it.
Wood ashes make excellent mulch material too. Just keep them away from any plants you’d like to avoid fertilizing accidentally! Spread a layer of ash around plants, but be sure to allow room for water penetration.
Remember: wood ashes are alkaline, so if you’re planning on using them near acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons or blueberries, use only about half an inch thick per year and be sure to water more frequently than usual. As always, do a bit of research before using anything new in your garden.
Use Them for a Therapeutic Bath
If you’re looking for a way to alleviate some of your muscle pain, look no further than your fireplace. While most people discard their fireplace ashes, they’re actually very therapeutic and can help alleviate some muscle tension.
Add 3–4 cups of fireplace ashes to your bath water and allow it to dissolve slowly while you soak in the tub. The calcium and magnesium found in fireplace ashes will help relieve stress on joints and muscles, including post-workout soreness or stiff back pain.
Be sure to wear rubber gloves when handling fireplace ashes as they can irritate sensitive skin. If you want to ensure that your bath is free from toxins, use a metal container (such as an old pot) to mix up your homemade solution instead of plastic or glass.
You may also want to add some essential oils (lavender is a good choice) for aromatherapy benefits. Just make sure to avoid adding any other additives such as lotions or bubble baths, which could contaminate your soothing bath.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
As fall and winter approach, you’ll soon be sitting by a fire and enjoying some time with friends and family. But do you ever wonder what to do with your fireplace ashes?
Fireplace ashes can be quite useful, but they can also pollute our air and water if they’re improperly disposed of. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, make sure to ask yourself whether or not your fireplace ashes are really garbage or something that could be used for a purpose in future projects.
Add Them to Your Compost Bin
Once your fireplace ash is cool to touch, you can add it to your compost bin. If you’re concerned about introducing metals into your garden soil, consider adding only ashes from wood-burning fireplaces or opting for a metal-free alternative like mesquite or almond shells.
For a more complete breakdown of what goes where in compost bins and how to do it, check out Composting 101: A Beginner’s Guide. When choosing which type of ash to use in your compost bin, keep in mind that hardwood ashes are usually better than softwood ashes as they contain less chloride.
You can also use fireplace ashes in place of regular topsoil as a mulch around plants that prefer alkaline soils like azaleas and gardenias. Just be sure to choose an organic brand if you opt for bagged mulch.
Plastic mulch releases harmful chemicals over time, which can leach into nearby soil and contaminate your plants. Read on for some other ways to put those fireplace ashes to good use…
It’s best not to leave them outside where pets or children might accidentally come across them; outdoor burns should always be done under supervision. And, although no one wants their dog snacking on their breakfast cereal (and vice versa), there are certain products that actually benefit from a bit of ash added in.
If you’re looking for more ideas on how to use waste for gardening, you might want to check out how to dispose of old tires.
Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
Mix 1 cup of laundry detergent with 2 cups of dryer lint and 1/2 cup of melted soap chips until well blended. Use a cheese grater to grate your bar of soap into small pieces and then add it to your mixture. Store in an airtight container or resealable bag for up to six months, adding more soap as needed.
This makes for an excellent natural stain remover that you can use on clothes or carpet stains. Just mix a few tablespoons with warm water, soak for 30 minutes, and then rinse out before washing as usual.
Incorporate Them Into an Art Project
The particles left over from a fireplace are perfect for helping make homemade crafts. Try using fireplace ashes to create glass-like beads that can be used to embellish jewelry and accessories, or apply them as an even coat of pigment on canvases.
The more finely ground your fireplace ash is, the brighter and opaquer your resulting color will be. Experimenting with different colors will give you some unique results. When painting a canvas black, for example, using coarser ash particles will result in dark gray while using finer ash particles will result in lighter gray.
A nice touch: Many people choose to grind their ashes into a fine powder before applying them onto anything so that they look like little flecks of charcoal throughout whatever it is you’re creating. You can also add other materials, such as crushed glass or sand, for an even more interesting effect. The possibilities are endless!
Save them For Next Winter
Save your fireplace ashes to use as a fertilizer. Many gardeners do just that and find that it’s not only a great way to get free nutrients, but also makes it easier on their budgets.
Spread them over your flowerbeds in early spring, or mix them into potting soil before planting vegetables. In short, you can add fireplace ashes to almost any type of soil!
The best part is they don’t need any special treatment; just make sure they’re well mixed and put on top of moist soil so they get some water when rain hits them. Don’t forget to wear gloves and a mask while handling fireplace ashes, though. They contain traces of toxic metals like lead and arsenic.
But if you live in an area where burning wood is prohibited (or even if you don’t), there are other uses for your fireplace ashes. If your house has a dryer vent, fill up an old sock with ashes and place it near your vent to absorb moisture from inside your home.
This will help reduce mold growth throughout your home! You can also place small amounts of ash around pipes that freeze easily to prevent burst pipes during the winter months. Finally, clean out an old pot or jar and sprinkle some ash inside; then plant herbs like mint or lavender that thrive in damp conditions!
Here are some things to avoid doing with fireplace ashes
If you’re wondering what to do with fireplace ashes from gas-burning fireplaces, keep in mind that they contain toxins like benzene and carbon monoxide. It’s best not to leave them outside where pets or children might accidentally come across them; outdoor burns should always be done under supervision.
How Do I Spread Wood Ash on My Lawn?
Wood ash, made from burnt wood and leaves, is a fantastic soil amendment. It’s chock-full of nutrients including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous—all important nutrients for good plant growth.
When used correctly, it can bring an otherwise dead patch of grass back to life. Spread ash over your entire lawn; you want to distribute it as evenly as possible. Wait until after your first good rain (the kind that dries off quickly) before spreading it out. Then water to help it mix in with your lawn’s existing soil and let nature do its thing!
Follow these steps for properly spreading wood ash to your lawn:
- Make sure you only spread ashes that have cooled completely.
- Fill a bucket with ash, and then add water to it so that it is as thin as pancake batter.
- Next, you want to either use a garden tiller or an herbicide sprayer and spray evenly across your lawn in three different directions.
- Be sure not to disturb your grass when spreading it, so be extremely careful when spraying.
- If you accidentally spray too much in one area, just leave it on top of your lawn and then cover it up with more dirt or another layer of ash.
- After application, allow 30 days for full fertilizer absorption before cutting grass.
When you’re done spreading ashes on your lawn, you can use it as a natural herbicide and insect repellent.
Don’t forget to water your lawn after applying ash!
Now that you know what to do with fireplace ashes, you can go ahead and get started!
Remember: Your fireplace and chimney are an integral part of your home. It’s important to keep them clean and properly maintained.