Firewood ash consists of all the solid residue left over from the complete combustion of firewood.
The amount of ashes leftover from a fire and their composition depends on several different factors.
The type of wood burned, the amount of bark and the ratio of heartwood to sapwood all effect the amount and consistency of your remaining ashes.
Generally speaking, ash content is not a major concern when choosing a firewood type.
The amount of leftover ashes is not really a problem because the volume is so small. How much ash does a fire produce?
It can vary a little but a standard cord of firewood which is 128 cubic feet will produce about a bushel of ashes.
Ashes are composed of the following elements:
Calcium and Potassium are the two prominent elements found in leftover ash. The high potassium content which ranges from 10-30 percent, makes ash an excellent fertilizer. The ashes will also decrease the acidity of your garden soil.
However, if you're going put ashes in your garden don't apply them directly around the plants. Mix the ashes into the soil in the fall or spring.
Here's a comment from one of our visitors explaining his experience using ash as a fertilizer.
One year I had the idea to sprinkle some ashes around a bunch of vegetable plats growing in the garden. I thought it would be a good source of fertilizer. In the end everything died because the ashes were not worked into the soil.
Fertilizer is the most common and popular use for leftover ashes. Working the ashes into your garden soil is very beneficial. You can also use ashes for:
On sidewalks to remove ice
As a degreasing cleaner
Never use hot ashes in any of these applications. Always store ashes in a non-combustible container. I always store my leftover ashes in a large metal trash can with a lid and allow them to completely cool before use.
Choosing to store ashes in a combustable container like paper or plastic is dangerous. The hot ashes and coals could easily ignite the container causing an unwanted and potentially dangerous fire.
Although it's a little messy at times, ash should not be a major concern when deciding whether or not to burn firewood.
The leftover ashes have many benefits around the house and the amount of effort required to dispose of the ashes is minimal.