30 Survival Uses for Wood Ashes You Never Thought of

C. Davis
By C. Davis January 29, 2015 05:19

30 Survival Uses for Wood Ashes You Never Thought of

1. Make lye water out of ash. You can boil 2-3 spoons of ash (clean white/grey fluffy ash) with water and then filter it with a coffee filter. Lye water is a great cleaning agent and sanitizer for clothes, floors, windows, silverware, plates, and even rust in marble.

You can also make lye by adding the fluffy white ash in a cheesecloth

*This is more or less the idea of the process but it’s best you practice safety and obtain more information on the subject before you carry out the actual lye making process. It’s dangerous and lye is caustic.

* In a bucket with holes on its base, you add the cheesecloth and ash, and hang it somewhere high. Add the water. Underneath, place another clean bucket to collect the lye. The lye has a brownish colour, so you remove the bucket when clean water starts to sip through. Test the lye by adding a fresh egg in the liquid. If the egg floats, the lye is good to go, if not, repeat the process.-For use in soap making.

2. You can use charcoal to filter water before drinking. Find out how to make charcoal.

3. Charcoal in metal containers can be used to remove humidity in cellars, cupboards and under sinks.

4. In the older days, they used to preserve seeds in large clay containers, by adding a thick layer of ash over them. This prevented insects from destroying their produce.

5. It can be used in wounds, to kill bacteria and aid in faster healing. Melting hand made soap in lye water and rinsing a wound with it without rinsing over it with clean water.

6. No fridge? No worries! You can preserve your fruits and vegetables for many days, even years, by digging a hole in the ground and filling it with ash. Add your veg and fruit, ensuring enough space between them, so that they do not touch each other, or the muddy ground. Seal the hole with a piece of wood, and you let it be.

7. In the olden days, to preserve the fresh rennet, they added it in a bone animal horn, filled it with ash, sealed it with mud and hanged it from a tree. This ensured the rennet lasted for many many years.

8. A paste made out of ash and water, can remove stains from furniture.

9. If we want to remove a stain from clothes the moment they happen, we add a bit of ash and after about five minutes, we rub it with the crumb of a bread (not the crust, the soft white bit).

10. Ash is a great odour repellent, just add a bit over the area that smells. eg, kitty litter.

11. You can remove odours from a fridge, by adding a plate of charcoal ash inside. Change the charcoal over, until the smell is gone.

12. You can use it to brush your teeth. (recipe here) *Not all woods are suitable. Conifer trees produce ash that is softer on the enamel. Some woods contain harsh minerals that may damage your teeth.

13. You can wash your hair with lye soap and rinse with vinegar. This is especially good for oily hair.

*lye soap must be cured for at least 6 weeks first.

14. Lye water is used in many foods and sweets. Like grape must pudding (moustalevria),  honey cookies (melomakarona), and in bread. It makes bread fluffy and prevents it from crumbling. Lye water is also good for the cleansing of the intestines.

*Lye water differs to the lye you use to make soap. Please DON’T EVER use lye on your foods or skin. Adding lye water to foods is a completely different method all together.

why is FEMA doing spotchecks around farms15. Ash was used for many years in farming. It recycles the natural nutrients back into the earth. It can be used as compost but does not include Nitrogen. It aids in the increase of the earths PH level which in return, aids in the growth of the plants. (But because of the ongoing increase of the PH level, not all veg and fruit thrive from it. eg potatoes).

16. It strengthens plants that love calcium, such as tomatoes, vineyards, beans, spinach, peas, avocados, garlic etc. Even rose bushes. You can add 1/4 cup ash before planting.

17. One spoon ash per 1000l of water, strengthens underwater plants.

18. It prevents plants from frost in winter, if you add a layer of ash over them.

19. Animals hate ash. You can rid your garden of insects and various parasites, such as slugs and snails.

20. You can rid yourself of ants. If you throw some ash in their colony, they will be forced to relocate, as they can’t move the ash.

21. Spread some ash in the corners of the house, or dark spots of your cellar etc. For as long as there is ash, no mice/rats, cockroaches or insects approach.

22. It repels lice, ticks and fleas off animals. You make a thick paste of ash and vinegar and spread over the fur. It’s messy, but it works.

23. It repels clothes moths. You can add some ash on your stored clothes, and simply shake it off when you need to use them. You can leave them for years this way, and nothing will happen to them.

24. Lye is used to make soap (potassium hydroxide). It’s a bit of a lengthy process, but its worth it.

25. Ash is used for “immortal eggs”. In a recipe used in the Middle East, they preserve eggs in a mix of clay, ash, salt, lime and rice rind for many months.

26. Sodium Carbonate, can be made out of ash. It is known to be an excellent product, used as household cleaner.

27. Ash contains salt, and can therefore melt ice.

28. The charcoal collected within the ash, can be used as a filter.

29. You can use charcoal to filter blurry wine.

30. You can put a fire out quickly by throwing ash over it.


There is a difference between lye and lye water. Under no circumstances should you eat lye.


Source: 30 Uses for wood ashes

Photo Source: Ashes

C. Davis
By C. Davis January 29, 2015 05:19
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  1. Mic Roland January 30, 19:18

    Use wood ash like the Indians did, to make hominy:
    1 cup of dry field corn + 1 cup of wood ash + 2 cups of water, simmered for 3 to 3.5 hours. Wash off ash thoroughly. Rub off gelatinized hard husks, then rinse some more. When clean, simmer corn in clean water for another hour. Result: hominy, with more nutrition than plain corn.

    Reply to this comment
    • Jack October 3, 22:57

      I hate hominy. I just never could stand the taste of it.

      Reply to this comment
      • suzie queue December 14, 05:10

        Jack, try this: In a skillet, melt some bacon grease, open 1 small can of yellow hominy and drain and open 1 small can of Bush’s blackeye peas, don’t drain. Dump into the skillet and fry until hot and bubbly. Yum! I used to hate hominy, too, until I made up this mixture. Try it.

        Reply to this comment
    • red February 4, 20:00

      we still do, as do most folks who make their own for grits and corn flour. In most of the Americas, no one throws away wood ashes. niio!

      Reply to this comment
  2. Cherokee September 13, 08:06

    Lye water is also used to cure olives. Green olives are placed in lye water to get rid of the bitterness. This turns them black. Naturally black olives are past their prime. And if you have ever tried an olive straight from the tree, you know what I mean by BITTER.

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  3. bob barton April 18, 14:07

    When I was in basic training we had a fellow who refused to shower until about eight guys held him down and gave him a shower using lye soap and a scrub brush.No problems after that.

    Reply to this comment
    • Robbbie April 18, 15:16

      That is so funny. My dad’s been gone 10 years now, but he told the story that in WWII he and about 10 guys held down a swabby who wouldn’t take a shower, and they used a stiff brush on him too!

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  4. clergylady October 27, 20:08

    Indians in California used oak ashes mixed with ground, leached, Acorns to make a bread that was baked on a flat stone in a hot fire. The ashes acted as a levening agent. Leach the acorns after a rough grinding by placing in the damp sand along a running stream for 24-36 hours or in a sieve in running water for 3-4 hours. That gets rid of the tannins in the acorns so they can be boiled much like cooking pinto beans or as a paste with ashes added as a flat baked bread. Both ways are a good nutritious food. Boiled in water the acorns taste like beans cooked without salt. You can add the ashes of ghost plant (salty) or meats for flavor.

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  5. Binadaoc November 26, 06:17

    #17. How do you measure 1000 liters of water? Maybe you mean 1000 ML of water.

    Reply to this comment
    • left coast chuck October 15, 21:24

      That was my thought too. 1000L equals about 265 gallons of water. That’s a big pail. And a one spoon — tablespoon, teaspoon? Either way, that is a very weak solution. I am sure the equation should be one tablespoon of ash to 1L of water or 1,000ML.

      Reply to this comment
      • Whispering November 15, 15:32

        I think they were talking about under water plants. Like in a pond.

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        • left coast chuck November 17, 04:02

          Whispering: I think you are correct that the author means underwater plants in a pond so the mixture would be one spoon full to 265 ± gallons of water. But the questions still remains: tablespoon or teaspoon?

          My guess would be tablespoon because 265 gallons of water is a lot of water but I hate to go on guesses because I guess incorrectly so many times.

          Reply to this comment
          • WhiteMikefromOakland December 12, 00:37

            Well whether it’s teaspoon or tablespoon, it aint gonna make or break you because I believe 1 tablespoon is equivalent to 3 teaspoons, so either one of ’em in that much water, cannot make that big a difference. At least that’s my “clueless” opinion that I trust none of ya’ll will base the survival of your aquatic plants on!

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  6. Govtgirl November 16, 13:18

    If you have a glass door in front of your fireplace and need to clean the soot off it, just wet a piece of flat wood and dip it in the ashes and rub it against the discolored glass. Magic!

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  7. red February 4, 20:13

    In the old days, if someone dumped wood ashes, his mother or wife would beat him. If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

    One part wood ashes, three of dirt or clay, you wet, press it, and dry it for bricks. One part ashes, 9 parts clay, mix, it makes something close to bone china. A very light sprinkle of ashes over plants chases off insects and kills the stubborn ones. do not use on plants when in bloom or no pollination will happen. Dust fruit trees before bloom to chase off pests. dust around a field will deter deer, razorbacks, raccoons, and so on until it’s washed away. Ashes in rat holes kills rats or chases them away. No animal or insect will walk thru them. We used them to prove to Dad we had a peeping tom, and why Mom blew a hole in the window that night with his deer rifle. Dad just smiled and patted Mom on the bottom and said, “You broke it, you fix it.” That’s the first time I had to replace a window, after Mom came home with the glass.thanks, Mom! 🙂 niio

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    • Lorelei February 13, 21:49

      I use a thick payer of ashes where I want to get rid of weeds. Works very well and better than any mulch!

      Reply to this comment
      • red February 14, 00:14

        Too much calcium in our soil now. With the dog here, I’d be worried about lye when they’re damp. A shovel takes out any weeds, and adds to mulch on the garden 🙂 niio

        Reply to this comment
    • Ingrid September 30, 00:23

      Excuse my ignorance.
      What does niio stand for at the end of your posts??

      Reply to this comment
  8. dweiss September 3, 04:06

    i burn a lot, a LOT of paper. would that ash be a reasonable substitute for the wood ash?

    Reply to this comment
    • red October 1, 00:00

      dweiss: No. Wood ash has a lot of calcium and potassium. Wood is washed out and often bleached before being manufactured into paper. Because of the carbon in it, it’s good in the garden. It’s a favorite of worms and kills slugs and snails, especially cardboard. As a fuel, I know it’s good, but the ashes are zip, nothing. niio

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