Maybe you’ve heard about old timey uses for wood ash. It’s a remarkably useful substance even today, though. There are several uses for wood ash that may not only be applicable in your everyday life, but that could help you and your loved ones survive in a SHTF situation.
What Is Wood Ash?
Wood ash is exactly what it sounds like: that ashes that are the end product when wood is burned. You’ve probably considered them to be something to dispose of in the past, but this list of wood ash uses may change your mind and have you saving wood ash up for a rainy day!
30 Survival Uses for Wood Ash
- Cleaning metal – Think of it a little like a natural version of scouring powder. You can use wood ash combined with a little water to form a thick paste to scrub metal items.
- Cleaning dirty dishes – Dishes need to be cleaned, even in a survival situation (maybe especially in a survival situation). Sprinkle a little wood ash on plates or in a skillet and give it a scrub to remove stuck on foods.
- Cleaning people – You may have heard of using sand to clean up, and ash can do the same thing. Simply scoop up a handful of (cool) ashes and start scrubbing. Then, rinse off with water.
- Clean glass doors on wood stoves – Oddly enough, ash does a great job breaking down soot. Use wood ash to clean the black grime off your wood stove door.
- Soil amendment to replace lime – You can use wood ash to change the pH of soil, just like you would use lime. This works great for lawns, hay fields, and in gardens.
- Soil amendment to boost calcium – Eggshells are a great way to boost the calcium in your soil, but if you don’t have access to eggshells, wood ash will do the trick.
- Keep snails out of the garden – Snails and slugs can do significant damage Sprinkle wood ash around your garden to keep these slimy creatures out and your crops safe.
- Tomato growing – Wood ash is great for growing tomatoes! Just sprinkle a half cup in each hole before you plant.
- Soap making – When you mix wood ash with water, you get lye. When you mix lye with fat, you get soap!
- Chicken dust bath – Chickens love to roll around in the dust. When that dust contains at least some wood ash, it can help keep your poultry free from mites and other pests.
- Food supplement for chickens – People sometimes add eggshells or oyster shell to supplement their chickens with calcium, but if you can’t get your hands on those, wood ash will do in a pinch. Just be sure you empty food dishes so that water doesn’t sit in the ash, potentially creating lye.
- Compost booster – You can add wood ash to boost nutrients directly to compost, which helps create better compost in the long run.
- Camouflage – Being invisible to other people and animals might become a life or death situation at some point. Wood ash can be smeared on the skin in varying thicknesses to create a camouflage look. It may even help to disguise your human scent.
- Eliminate skunk smell – Make a paste of wood ash and vinegar, then smear it in to the sprayed pet’s fur to cut through the skunk smell.
- Create a glaze for clay or ceramic items – Follow these directions to create a basic glaze for ceramics from clay and wood ash. This sort of glaze is visually interesting because the various minerals in both the clay and the ash combine to create unique colors.
- Reduce friction between moving parts in simple machines – Ash is very fine and can help reduce friction between moving parts, like pulleys.
- Make glue – Mix wood ash and pine sap to create a passable glue.
- Waterproof wood – Mix wood ash and linseed oil to create a waterproofing agent for wood.
- Seed preservation – Simply sprinkle seeds with ash to prevent pest damage.
- Nixtamalization of corn for grinding – Use lye from wood ash to make corn easier to grind. This is also helps increase the nutritional value of the corn.
- Take the hair off hides – Make dehairing hides easier by mixing hot water with wood ash and soaking fresh hides in the mixture.
- Ice melt – Use it as a replacement for rock salt to melt ice.
- Fire retardant – Throw wood ash over a fire to smother it.
- Traction for tires on ice or mud – It’s grippy stuff when it gets damp! Just sprinkle it liberally around the tires to help gain some traction.
- Pest control in the home – Place some wood ash on basement or cellar floors to keep mice and other pests out. They hate the stuff!
- Flea, lice, and tick repellent – Sprinkle over pets or livestock to help repel biting pests.
- Soak up stains – Sprinkle wood ash over grease or oil spots on concrete to soak it up and get garage or basement floors sparkly clean.
- Wound cleansing – Some cultures have used wood ash to prevent bacteria in wounds.
- Other healing – Various types of wood ash have been used for complex healing over the centuries. It is even used in some modern pharmaceuticals.
- Sun protection – Just because the sunscreen runs out doesn’t mean or risk for sun burn will be eliminated. Particularly in a SHTF situation where you’re likely to be outdoors frequently, use wood ash dusted over the skin to protect you from the sun.
Related: 15 Survival Uses for Bentonite Clay
Wood Ash Safety
It’s important that you are careful not to inhale wood ash. Taking caution with wood ash and other chemical agents that we’ve learned can be made from wood ash is also very important. When used wisely, wood ash can help assure your survival. If it’s used improperly, it can have the opposite effect.
Practice some of these techniques now so that you are better prepared in the event that wood ash is the only option to solve applicable problems.
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