How to Collect & Use Firewood Ash From a Wood-Burning Stove

by HomeSteadHow

We’re going to clean the ash out of our wood-burning stove. We end up with barrels and barrels of wood ash during the burning season, but there are so many amazing things you can do with the firewood ash from your wood burner–things you wouldn’t even imagine.

We’ll show you how we use our firewood ash–from cleaning glass to using it in the garden and more.

How to collect firewood ash

How to collect firewood ash

Firewood ash

1. Rake the ash

We’re at 167 degrees and there are some hot coals left in there but it’s mostly ash. We’ll move the hot coals to the back and shovel out the ash into a metal can. You can use a rake to get the ash out and a hoe-type of tool to scrape the creosote off the side of the wood burner.

The rake helps to separate the coal and ash. To save the coals so they keep producing heat, just push the larger coals to the back of the bin. 

Hot rake

The rake is extremely hot! Look how hot it is!

How to collect firewood ash

Scraping the creosote

2. Scrape the creosote

I’m using the hoe to scrape the creosote that’s built up on the sides. I go around the door and then all around inside the firebox. 

Cleaning the damper box

3. Clean the damper box

There’s a damper inside the front door that can get jammed with ash. Clean that with a piece of wood.

Collecting firewood ash in a bin

4. Use a metal can

It’s important to use a metal can for hot ash. You don’t want to put too much in the can or you won’t be able to move it. Shovel fine ash into the can.

An important trick is to not put your head over the garbage can as you’re shoveling or the fine dust and smoke will get into your face.

Letting the ash cool

5. Let it cool down

Leave the can to cool down. It’ll take a couple of days.

How to use firewood ash

How to use firewood ash

Uses of firewood ash

Cleaning glass with ash

1. Clean glass

Use the ash to clean your wood-burning stove door to get the stains out. They’re really hard to remove. Mix some ash with a little water in a container. Make a paste. It’ll be an abrasive cleaner. The stains come right off. Then wipe off with a wet washcloth.  

Don't try to whiten teeth with ash

Note that some things you see on the internet about what to do with ash are weird and potentially dangerous. For example, I would not brush my teeth with ash. 

Soaking up spills with ash

2. Soak up spills

Use ash to clean up spills like the oil spill here in my garage. Let it soak in, then sweep it up when it’s dry. Use it like you would use cat litter. 

Filling in driveway ruts with ash

3. Fill in driveway ruts

Use your ash to fill in holes in your driveway. I hear it can dry almost as hard as cement. I’m filling in a rut from my garage. In fact some people use old ash to make cement. 

Eliminating refrigerator odors with ash

4. Eliminate refrigerator odors

Use ash instead of baking soda in your fridge to get rid of odors. Just put ash in a small container like you would do for baking soda. 

Melting snow and ice with ash

5. Melt snow and ice

Use ash instead of expensive salt to melt snow and ice. Salt can also hurt your pet’s feet and destroy grass. Ash is free, it does a great job, and it doesn’t destroy anything. We use it to get rid of ice on some cement. Then we can sweep it into the driveway afterward. 

Are firewood ashes good for the garden?

6. Fertilize your garden

Keep pests out of your garden and fertilize your trees and gardens. Mix it with water to turn it into a tea to spray on flowers and plants. Keep a can outside to save for summertime. In the winter, dump it into the garden to save for use later.

We had so much ash, we didn't know what to do with it. So instead of storing the ash, we just dump it for use later. We did this last year and got a ton of pumpkins. It seemed to have helped and was very good for other plants.

Is firewood ash good for plants?

Giving chickens a dust bath

7. Dust your chickens

Give your chickens dust baths with the used ash. Put containers out with the ash or put them on the ground. Make sure it’s all cool for the chickens. The chickens will give themselves a dust bath as they do in the summertime in the dirt. 

How to use firewood ash

Being a homesteader is all about recycling, reusing, and not just throwing everything out and being wasteful. Don’t just throw out your ash! It’s a valuable resource to use on your homestead. I was impressed by how well it cleaned.

What do you use your used ash for? Let us know in the comments below.

Join the conversation
2 of 3 comments
  • Raw77557354 Raw77557354 on Jan 16, 2024

    This is great! Thank you. I use a pellet stove and knew there were uses for ash, such as cleaning the window and gardening but certainly not for driveway or as salt replacement for icy steps.

    Thank you for the info 😊

  • Acc24642655 Acc24642655 on Jan 17, 2024

    We use the ash on our cut seed potatoes to dry and seal the cuts before planting