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best way to dispose of fireplace ashes? Answered


Compost heap, if you have one? 

We used to keep a bucket of it in the outhouse and throw in a scoop after each use- kept down the smell!

Wood ashes can be used for various kinds of amateur alchemy.

Kevin Dunn's old Caveman Chemistry pages give a procedure for making wood ashes into potash, or at least something closer to pure potash (K2CO3) than the wood ashes by themselves.

Wood ashes are also an ingredient in homemade saltpeter (KNO3).  The other ingredient is usually some kind of manure, or soil containing nitrates.  That is to say the wood ashes provide the K+ ion, and the manure provides the  NO3- ion.   Or that's the legend.

Also there's soap:

The gardening related answers, from other answerers, are good too.  This is probably the easiest way to recycle wood ashes.   That is to say: The trees were kind enough to loan unto you some potassium ions.  The trees, or other plants,  might also think it kind of you, if you returned these potassium ions unto them.

  1. As a glass cleaner. Wood ash is a key ingredient in lye soap. It can be mixed with a bit of water (or dabbed on a damp sponge) and used to clean dirty fireplace doors.


  2. As an pest deterrent. Sprinkle small amounts around the perimeter of your garden to deter slugs and snails.


  3. As a spot remover on wood furniture. Mix it in with a small amount of water until you create a paste. Rub over rings left by water glasses or hot beverages, and follow up with a furniture polish. Test on a small area first.


  4. As traction. In the winter, sprinkle wood ash on slippery walkways or driveways to improve traction. Wipe you feet before going inside, because the ashes will easily track indoors.(http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf000251.tip.html)
    These are all, of course, aside from the aforementioned suggestions of gardening use.  Just be careful with how much you use.
It depends on what you've been burning.  If you've only been burning hardwood, then you can certainly scatter it in your yard or put in the compost pile especially if you have a lot of leaves.  If you notice the pH of your soil becoming alkaline, you can add sulfur to correct it, but chances are you won't notice anything so long as you don't dump a bucket of the stuff on a single spot - spreading the love is key.  If you've been burning those fire starter logs or the prefabbed logs, then that all has to get put in the trash regardless of also burning hardwood because of petrochemicals used in those logs and their effect on plants and other stuff.

It may be a little too alkaline for a compost pile, but it can be used in the lawn and garden as a replacement for lime.