Creative Ways to Recycle Your Fireplace Ashes from our Cary Chimney Company

September 23, 2019

You probably already know that wood fireplace ashes can be recycled as a potassium-rich nourishment for plants and compost piles. But ash also has many other household uses, like polishing silver, unclogging drains and even melting ice! Below are some highly useful applications for ashes that can save you a bit of money on cleaning products.

How to Use Ashes to Unclog Drains

When wood ashes become wet, a chemical process causes them to produce lye. Fight Club fans may remember that in olden times, that ash-made-lye was mixed with grease or fat to make soap. Lye released from ash will bind with any fats, greases, and oils that are clogging up your pipes. In fact, lye is the key ingredient in many liquid drain cleaners.

To save yourself a few bucks, the next time you have a clog, pour 1 cup of dry, powdery ash into the drain, followed by one cup of rain water (rain is “soft water” that doesn’t contain extra chemicals that can interfere with lye production). Allow the mixture to sit for 2-3 hours, flush the drain with water, and resume normal use. (Note: When using this DIY method to unclog drains, do not combine with other chemicals or acids. Demonstrate caution when working drains and hot water. Use gloves and rinse away any wood ash residue.)

How to Use Ashes to Polish Silver

Before modern chemical silver polishes became available, wood ash was used around the globe to brighten up silver and other precious metals. To make wood ash silver polish, simply mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 cups of powdery wood ash, and just enough water to make a thick paste. Dip a sponge or cloth in the paste and polish that tarnished silver until it shines! The mixture is also good for cleaning stainless steel, gold or chrome items. (Note: Always wear gloves when working with a mixture of wood ashes and water, and thoroughly rinse all items after you’ve polished your precious metals!)

How to Use Ashes to Melt Ice

Each winter, millions of tons of rock salt are poured on roads across the country. While this is a quick fix for getting rid of ice on roads and walkways, it can have serious consequences for the environment. Rock salt builds up in the soil and kills plants, and irritates our pets’ sensitive paws. Excess rock salt even puts fish and other wildlife at risk when salt-contaminated run-off enters fresh waterways from storm drains.

All this to say—if you have fireplace ashes, there are plenty of great reasons to use them to de-ice your driveway! This is because as wood turns to ash during the burning process, some of it converts into salts. However, wood ash salts do not carry the same environmental risks as rock salt. The next time your driveway is iced over, simply sprinkle some wood ash around, watch it melt, and rest assured that your landscape and pets will stay safe and healthy.

Get Your Fireplace Inspected with our Cary Chimney Company

Now that it’s fall, we’re sure you’re ready to open up your chimney for the new season! Before you do, make sure to schedule a chimney inspection with our Cary chimney contractors. We can’t wait to help make your chimney system clean, safe, and ready to go. To schedule an estimate, click here.