What To Do With Ashes From Fire Pit [21 Ideas]

We all know ash needs to be cold before removing it from a fire pit. There are warnings, “No hot ash,” plastered all over, including on trashcans and dumpsters. But throwing it away should be a last resort. Ash from wood and additive-free charcoal (not coal!) is good stuff and has a multitude of uses.

21 ideas for what to do with ashes from fire pit:

  1. Make Ash Toothpaste
  2. Use Ash As A Winter Salt Alternative For Driveways
  3. Mix Ash Into Chicken Feed
  4. Add Ash To Garden Soil
  5. Give Your Chickens Ash Dust Baths
  6. Use Ash As A Skunk Odor Fighter
  7. Protect Stored Seeds With Ash
  8. Use Ash As A Natural Slug And Snail Deterrent
  9. Deodorize Fridge And Freezers With Ash
  10. Put Ash In The Compost
  11. Make Silver Polish From Ash
  12. Use Ash As A Dry Shampoo
  13. Extend The Life Of Cut Flowers With Ash
  14. Fill Up Ruts And Potholes With Ash
  15. Mix Ash Into Litter Box To Control Odor
  16. Use Ash As An Insulator Against Frost
  17. Use Ash As A Natural Flea Repellent For Pets
  18. Clean Up Spills In The Garage With Ash
  19. Extinguish Your Fire Pit Fire With Ash
  20. Turn Ash Into Soap
  21. Use Ash As A Backpacking Ultra-Light Deodorant

Ash is mildly abrasive yet gentle, making it a perfect glass cleaner, especially for the window of a fireplace. Most people mix it with a bit of water to form a paste and then rub it on with a cloth. Once done, wipe clean with a second damp cloth.

However, we have a friend who just scoops it directly from the fireplace and then rubs it with crumpled newspaper. He says the other method is too fussy.

I find the first method easier. But whatever works for you.

1. Make Ash Toothpaste

Activated charcoal has soared in popularity in the last few years, including as a toothpaste. Anyone who has tried the stuff out knows it isn’t sold cheap. However, you could simply use ash from your fire pit.

Making ash toothpaste is easy. First, take a scoop of cold ash, sift out any chunkier bits, then keep it in a clean dish. Then, about once a week, you just dip your toothbrush in and scrub everything. However, you might find you need to rinse your mouth out a lot to rid your mouth of the black-tooth look.

Ash is not a natural teeth whitener. Instead, the mild abrasiveness removes deposits that easily stain, making our teeth appear discolored. Thus, it is the removal of hardened grime that brightens your smile, not bleach.

2. Use Ash As A Winter Salt Alternative For Driveways

Ash is a more environmentally friendly method to add traction to icy driveways and sidewalks. In addition, it also helps melt some of the ice. It is also kinder to your shoe leather, won’t rust your car, doesn’t hurt your pets’ paws, or damage plaster or concrete.

Admittedly, it doesn’t look as pretty. But at least as it gets tracked across the ground or melts into the soil, it is good for the earth. However, do make sure people take off their shoes in the entryway and put down a good-sized, dark mat. Ash doesn’t do indoor carpets any cosmetic favors.

3. Mix Ash Into Chicken Feed

Ash can make up to 1% of your chicken feed. The dusty stuff is a good source of calcium, so it isn’t an empty-calorie filler. There are also other healthy nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.

However, when it comes to ash, more is not better. It can have a laxative effect. Thus, while a bit of ash in their diet can be beneficial, a lot of the stuff gives them the runs and can cause health complications.

Also, while this entire post assumes you are only burning wood and additive-free wood charcoal, it is crucial to ensure this when feeding chickens. The toxic chemicals in other fuels remain in the ash and could harm your cluckers. Besides, who wants that in their breakfast eggs? Ick.

4. Add Ash To Garden Soil

Sprinkle ash around the garden and yard as a natural fertilizer. Just do so with a light hand, as too much can alter your soil’s pH. But there are a lot of nutrients in the ash that is excellent for (most) of your plants.

5. Give Your Chickens Ash Dust Baths

Chickens love dust baths, and using ash will help cut down on bugs that might be hanging out in their feathers. It helps suffocate the tiny critters. Even better, mix it with some diatomaceous earth.

This trick is especially helpful in winter when chickens find it much more difficult to locate enough dust that isn’t frozen or covered. Just make them a nice pile and watch them “bathe” in their feathered glory.

6. Use Ash As A Skunk Odor Fighter

Dogs have a knack for upsetting skunks and marching straight into the house to complain. Ugh. Nor does everyone keep a massive supply of tomato juice at the ready. After all, there are only so many Bloody Mary’s one household drinks.

Thus, if you have a tub of cold ash, take your stinky best friend outside and start working it into their coats. Gloves are highly recommended. Not because of the ash, but because skunk-stink will easily transfer to you if you don’t. Also, swimming or safety goggles will help keep the dust out of your eyes.

Once you get the ash worked into all the fur, you need to try to get the dog to leave it on for a good ten minutes before they shake it off.  Then, give it a second round. Again, try to keep in on there for a good 10 minutes.

If your dog is being impossible (it happens), make it into a paste and then rub it in. Again, best to do it in two rounds.

7. Protect Stored Seeds With Ash

Seeds can be ruined over winter if they get too cold or absorb too much moisture. Ash will keep them warm and dry, ensuring your seeds will remain viable come spring. Nor do you have to worry if some of the ash is transferred to your seed tray when planting since it’s good for the soil.

8. Use Ash As A Natural Slug And Snail Deterrent

Ash is a natural slug and snail deterrent. Make a ring around the plants you’re trying to protect. Just remember, it needs touch-ups after windy days and any rain.

9. Deodorize Fridge And Freezers With Ash

You don’t need to go out and buy baking soda to put in your fridge and freezer to absorb odors. Instead, just put a dish of ash in there. It does the same job, and you already own it.

10. Put Ash In The Compost

Ash is an excellent addition to compost. Beneficial nutrients include:

  • Up to 25% Calcium
  • Up to 4% Magnesium
  • Up to 15% Potassium
  • Up to 3% Phosphorus

The exact composition of the ashes’ nutrients all depends on what type of wood was burnt to create the ash.

However, too much ash in compost could potentially mess with the pH of your soil. So keep ash to 5% or less of your mix.

11. Make Silver Polish From Ash

Create a thick silver cleaning paste with some water and ash. Preferably, use heaps of the fluffy white ash rather than the dark charcoal bits.

Once you have your paste, thickly spread it over the silver, then leave for 5 minutes. Then give it a nice polish and rinse if necessary. Some people do need to use a drop of dish soap to get any darker streaks off left from the ash.

However, using ash is far less of a smelly job than using silver polish. It is also environmentally friendly and inexpensive.

12. Use Ash As A Dry Shampoo

If your hair is looking oily but there’s no time to wash it, just sprinkle some ash over your hair. Then give your scalp a firm massage, working it in, so it can absorb the excess oil. Once down, brush or comb it out.

13. Extend The Life Of Cut Flowers With Ash

Help your cut flowers last longer by adding a teaspoon of ash to the water in the vase. The nutrients give them a wee boost.

14. Fill Up Ruts And Potholes With Ash

Use ash to fill up ruts and potholes. Some people just toss it in there and consider the job done.

However, unless it is mixed with water, it can easily blow around. Thus, I prefer to mix it with some water to make it a paste. Then after I fill the hole or rut, I lightly layer some gravel over it. The gravel helps keep it from blowing around once it is dry or spread by tires and shoes.  

15. Mix Ash Into Litter Box To Control Odor

Lightly mix ash into your kitty’s litter box to help keep the odor down. It is safe to use and often was people’s go-to for kitty-litter before the commercial products were available. It is also a natural cleaning product when giving that litter box a scrub.

16. Use Ash As An Insulator Against Frost

Ash is an excellent insulator against frost. All you do is dust the ground around your plants before the first frost or snow. However, you do need to take care about how much you use it and how often so you don’t change the soil’s pH.

17. Use Ash As A Natural Flea Repellent For Pets

Just as ash is helpful for giving chickens dust baths, it can be a natural method to rid your pets of fleas and other pests. You need to really rub it into their coats and, if they are indoor pets, then give them a good brush.

18. Clean Up Spills In The Garage With Ash

Ash is a safe substance to use to soak up spills in the garage, such as oil. It is safer than cat litter, which can expand in an animal’s stomach if digested. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly (until it soaks up the oil, of course).

19. Extinguish Your Fire Pit Fire With Ash

There are many excellent ways to put out a fire in a fire pit. But using ash is often overlooked. Like sand, ash smothers the fire, depriving it of necessary oxygen. In campfires, people use the fire’s ash to smother it out. But with fire pits, there is less space to maneuver, so just keep cold ash nearby in a metal bucket.  

20. Turn Ash Into Soap

You can turn ash into soap. You only need lye (made from your ash), water, and tallow or fat. You can also add scents using herbs or even a crushed candy cane.

If you want some videos to walk you through it:

21. Use Ash As A Backpacking Ultra-Light Deodorant

When backpacking long distances, every ounce counts. Thus, one of the first toiletries to get tossed is deodorant. After all, you’re in nature, and there is plenty of ventilation. Also, between hauling sunscreen and carrying the deodorant, sunscreen is the more important product.

But let’s face it, even if the deer and the bears are not complaining, you still have to hang out with yourself. So, give your underarms a bit of an all-natural dry by patting them down with some ash. But remember to make sure that stuff is cold before applying, as burnt armpits are worse than any stench.

Can You Throw Ashes In The Garbage?

Most places do allow residents to throw ash away in their household waste. However, there are typically rules, as seen in this example. Almost all areas require:

  • Ash is kept in a metal trashcan
  • Ash has been wet down
  • Ash is at least a few days old (not fresh)

Can I Put Fire Pit Ashes In My Garden?

Ash is an excellent calcium and potassium source and can benefit a garden. However, adding too much ash can impact a soil’s pH. Thus, it is recommended to use it lightly. Alternatively, test your soil’s pH before adding it.

Fire Pit Ashes In Compost?

It is beneficial to add ash to a compost, provided it is cold (don’t want a compost fire), and it is done with small amounts at a time. However, ash should only make up a small percentage of your overall compost, no more than 5%.

Which Plants Like Wood Ashes?

While adding a bit of wood ash to the garden soil makes many plants, there are some that really love the stuff. These include:

  • Asparagus
  • Chives
  • Citrus plants
  • Garlic
  • Hydrangeas
  • Lavender
  • Lettuces
  • Onions
  • Roses

Which Plants DON’T Like Wood Ashes?

Some plants don’t like wood ash. Thus, you should avoid giving these plants extra, aside from what creeps in from the compost. Examples include:

  • Azaleas
  • Blueberries
  • Ericas
  • Raspberries
  • Rhododendrons
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

James has been escaping to the outdoors for as long as he can remember. This first started in family camping trips but soon turned into adventure camps and hiking through the Scottish Hebrides. Now he has turned towards trying to make camping more comfortable and accessible.