I was at a BBQ yesterday when one of the sausages decided to sacrifice itself to the fiery coals below. ” Ah, throw it away” someone stated. I think it is safe to say that would be the automatic reaction of most people. Wood ash doesn’t look very clean after all does it? The truth is that it would be a waste of food, which I pointed out to the person that intended to throw away the perfectly edible sausage.( However please note, this does not include any fire made with chemical fire-lighters, as chemical fire-lighters are poisonous.)
The truth is that most people do not know just how useful wood ash is, so I am goin to fill you in on just a few of it’s several uses:
- Water filter
This is actually a use of the charcoal created from a wood fire, not the fine ash. A container with a spout at the bottom lined with an item of material can be filled with a base layer of crushed charcoal, followed by a layer of gravel and topped with a layer of larger stones, a layer of straw can be used as well. The water to be filtered is then poured slowly over the top. The stones and gravel, and straw help to remove any physical impurities whilst the charcoal traps any molecular contaminants.
The water the drips through the filter should be drinkable however water is only truly sterilized once it has been boiled. Therefore boil the filtered water to sterilise it and make it safe to drink.
- Odour neutraliser
As stated in the previous point, charcoal traps pollutant molecules. Therefore wood ash or charcoal can be used to eliminate odour molecules, by spreading ash over the affected area such as cat litter. A room can be rid of odours by placing a bowl of ash somewhere in the room. This method also applies to ones fridge, a bowl of charcoal in the fridge will clear it of any bad odours.
- Pest deterrent
Pests, it turns out, hate ash. To rid your garden of snails and slugs, spread some ash around your garden. Wood ash contains salt which absorbs their protective mucus covering.
Ants hate ash and some ash placed in their ant hole will force them to relocate.
Ash placed in the corners of your house and in the dark areas where pests like to hide will rid your house of mice, cockroaches etc.
Ash rubbed into the fur of your pets will rid them of any fleas, ticks and lice.
- Brushing teeth
Wood ash contains potassium hydroxide, which mixed with water is called potash or lye. Lye is a cleaning agent and as such can be used to clean and even whiten your teeth. (Ash used for making lye and/or teeth brushing must come from hard wood as soft woods contain a higher concentration of potassium hydroxide which can be potentially damaging.)
- Making soap
By boiling the grease rendered from animal fat with lye water, one can create a mixture that can be cooled and used as soap. The process is quite lengthy as specific measurements of each component need to added in the correct ratio to create the end product.
The uses of wood ash do not end there. There are numerous uses of wood ash which include shining silverware, adding to the soil to aid in the growth of plants, preservation of fruits and vegetables as well as many more. Next time you have yourself a BBQ, make sure that you put your left over ash to good use instead of just throwing it out.