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Don't just dump out your Wood Fire Ash and Wood Charcoal, They have other uses.

Updated on May 23, 2014

Charcoal and Ash

Wood Charcoal and Wood fire Ash
Wood Charcoal and Wood fire Ash | Source

Wood Ash and Charcoal

Do you have a fireplace, or use a fire pit at your camp? What do you do with your remaining ash or wood charcoal? Wood ash and Charcoal have more function than what is left over after you burn your wood. Not only do they retain nutrients in them that the wood had, they have new ones created from the reaction of being burned. They now contain Potassium (salts) and CO2 which plants need to grow healthy. Charcoal and ash both have a good absorbent value which make them good as a pest control and absorbing, chemical odors and neutralizing acids in the ground.

Garden Uses

For a mild pH balance, just scatter chunks of Charcoal around the garden allowing to soak into the garden slowly.
For a mild pH balance, just scatter chunks of Charcoal around the garden allowing to soak into the garden slowly. | Source

Garden Uses:

Using Charcoal and Ash in the garden has a couple uses:

  • For soils with a high acid content the Potassium, or salts in wood ash and charcoal raises the pH balance of the soil and neutralizes the acid. Just don't add too much ash for if you raise the balance too much the potassium will make it to toxic for plants. 1pound of ash per 2 square feet of garden will do the trick. You can also just cut up the wood Charcoal into chunks and spread it around the garden, allowing whatever soaks into the garden to do the trick if the balance is just a little off.
    (Don't use charcoal or ash in the soil of plants like blueberries, azaleas, rhododendron, or gardenia which strive off of the acidic soils)
  • The charcoal and ash also will absorb any fertilizer you put into the garden and will hold it over a long period of time allowing the plants a slow steady supply.
  • If you mix the charcoal and ash in the compost and use that soil it is a great balanced food for your plants.
  • When you burn your wood in the fireplace, take note of what wood you use. A hard wood holds more nutrients than soft wood. Both hold nutrients though so if your preference for burning is softwood have no worries.

Composting

Mixing in Charcoal and or Ash with your compost help disperse nutrients and balance out any acids added to the mix.
Mixing in Charcoal and or Ash with your compost help disperse nutrients and balance out any acids added to the mix. | Source

Compost:

When you are building your compost, put some ash or charcoal down with every layer of material you put in. Mixing Charcoal and Ash in the compost helps with the breaking down of the material and helps the nutrients get dispersed. If you are putting acidic stuff in your compost, like lemon peals (or in my recent case pineapple), you can add charcoal to balance out the acids and help break down the food waste.

If you are bringing you food waste from your house to your camp (where the compost is) like I do I like to put Charcoal in my container to help with breakdown as well as odors, until I reach my camp.


Pest Control

Charcoal and ash helps get rid of pests like Slugs and snails
Charcoal and ash helps get rid of pests like Slugs and snails | Source
adding chunks of Charcoal to the garden helps with adding nutrients slowly to the soil beneath and acts as a labyrinth death trap to soft shell invertebrates.
adding chunks of Charcoal to the garden helps with adding nutrients slowly to the soil beneath and acts as a labyrinth death trap to soft shell invertebrates. | Source
Just add a little ash around the targeted plant and you have a protective barrier from crawling insects.
Just add a little ash around the targeted plant and you have a protective barrier from crawling insects. | Source

Pest Control:

Charcoal and ash being both absorbent and carrying potassium (salts) is deathly for soft shell invertebrates like slugs or snails. The slug or snail gets anywhere near ash or charcoal and you might as well dump salt on them. Now if your garden is not high in acid or you have the balance where you want it but you want to get rid of these pests, just sprinkle a little around the base of the plant in danger of being eaten. You can also break up the Charcoal into chunks and spread it around the garden as a kind of insect death labyrinth. Also as it rains you will probably have to add more ash to around the base of the plants, in case the rain dilutes the salts in the ash.

Absorbent Uses:

Charcoal and Ash absorbs. The wood when it was burned became more porous allowing the Charcoal to develop the ability to soak in any nutrients, smells, chemicals, etc... in the near vicinity.

  • Have a smell in the home or to be more exact, you had someone over to clean your stove and they sprayed a chemical in your house that you need to get rid of? Put out a dish of Charcoal and it will absorb (Most of ) it. You still might have to open a window but at least it will cut down the time.
  • Your compost stating to smell like ammonia? Put some Charcoal or ash in and it will neutralize it right out.
  • If you put some chunks of Charcoal in a toolbox or another place where you have stuff you worry about keeping moisture away from, the Charcoal will absorb the moisture.

Absorbent Charcoal

A dish of Charcoal in a desired area will absorb any odor or chemical you need removed.
A dish of Charcoal in a desired area will absorb any odor or chemical you need removed. | Source

Wood Ash and Wood Charcoal

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    • Deborah Minter profile image

      Deborah Minter 5 weeks ago from U.S, California

      Good Article!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Impressive about wood ash and charcoal. I remember using the ash for plants when I was back In South Africa will have to start doing so again. Great tips here and certainly a helpful hub. Thank you for following me.