Five uses for your wood-burning stove ashes

‘No hot ashes’ is the traditional message provided by dustbins to their owners. But once our ashes have cooled down, most of us throw them straight into the bin.

This is a bit of a waste really, so here are five examples of ways in which you might like to put your ashes to better use.

1. On your garden

Wood ash contains lots of goodness for your plants, including potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. Someone more green-fingered than Gr8fires will be able to tell you which plants will particularly benefit from your ashes.

Wood ashes tend to contain lots of lime, which is useful for combating acidic soil. Head to the Royal Horticultural Society website for more tips on using ashes in your garden.

2. On oil spills

If you’ve got a drop of oil on your drive or in your garage, drop some cool ashes from your wood-burning stove on it. Leave your ashes overnight and in the morning, if everything has gone to plan, both ashes and oil should easily be swept away.

3. To clean your wood-burning stove

If you’ve got a wood-burning stove with airwash then your glass should keep itself fairly clean. But if you do need to clean your glass by hand, a lot of people swear by a bit of newspaper dipped in some cool ashes.

Wood-burning stoves are our area of expertise, but we’ve heard tales of people using this method to get tough stains off other glass surfaces too.

4. To keep bugs at bay

Another use in the garden. Tiny piles of ashes used as borders around each of your plants will help to keep unwanted visitors away from your plants. Insects, slugs and snailed can all be deterred from tucking into your greenery by a humble pile of ashes.

5. To polish metals

Mixing your wood ashes with water creates a paste that does a great job of buffing up your silver or pewter. It is abrasive, but if used with care it’s mild enough to create a nice shine without causing any damage.

If you’ve found another use for ashes from your wood-burning stove, let us know in the comments section below.

Our range of companion sets to deal with your ashes more easily.

43 thoughts on “Five uses for your wood-burning stove ashes

  1. There are two items Carrried in my car boot when it has been snowing a strong plastic sack of ash and a garden hoe, why a hoe well its lighter than a spade or shovel and can reach under the wheels of a car with minimum effort to clear snow then apply ash arond the wheels and you have grip.also use ash for doorsteps and paths it breaks down ice and snow so no more slipping or sliding for you or the postman. G.M.H.

  2. Don’t forget to spread cold ashes on a calm day, low to the ground, with any wind behind you; otherwise you will be wearing them and breathing them in, not good.
    Ashes are particularly good for fruit bearing trees, plants and bushes, also root vegetables and the onion family. If you have a lot just put it every where, even lightly on the lawn, when rain is imminent, no plant will complain.

  3. For cleaning sooted glass, I first wipe over with a Multi-surface moist wipe ( I use Lidl’s ‘W5’), then dip it in ash to remove the more stubborn stains. Then wipe away any residue with a moist paper towel.

    • Hi
      Like you, I was undecided about a wood burning stove but decided in Nov to invest in one. Got a fantastic Heatas engineer to fit it….. all done in one day!
      One of the things to remember about a wood burner /multifuel burner is that they need your attention.
      Remember it is a live flame, so protect carpets and your hands.
      You will need to clean it out after each use and make all the mistakes most of us will have done whilst you get used to it …..BUT it really is worth the effort.
      Getting up and down off the floor, refuelling as required can all be part of a daily workout, so all beneficial.
      Just watching the flames dance is so much more entertaining than TV.
      I would definitely recommend one and GR8 are so helpful with any queries, but the decision has to be yours alone.
      Best wishes.

  4. Mixed with builders sand to make a dust bath for chickens in the winter months when it is too muddy for them to make their own in the garden.

  5. Ashes used to be put in the void under floor boards for sound deadening in Glasgow tenements. Don’t put too much down though, or you may redecorate your downstairs neighbour’s flat…

  6. Help my new multi stove is in a mess. Its on all the time but there is dust on the top and inside the door not the glass side has turned a brown colour when cleaned it goes back to its orig. colour I have never had a problem with stoves before even the flue leading out of the wall is covered in dust.
    any ideas please.

    • Hi Ros,

      We were a bit unsure about where the discolouration is occurring. Discolouring usually happens when the fire is not hot enough or there is not enough oxygen at the fuel face, where the discolouring happens. This can be caused if there is fuel or ash buildup in front of the fuel retainer, where it will disrupt the flow of the airwash preventing the soot being burnt off.

      If burning wood, make sure it is properly dry and seasoned (tested with a moisture meter, not just assumed to be dry).

      Have the flue cleaned and make sure it is giving a good draw.

      With regards to the ash settling on the stove, this is fairly common on woodburners. A little will come out into the room when refuelling, especially when the fire dies down and the flue draw decreases because it is not hot enough to suck the smoke, soot and ash up while the door is open.



  7. Wood ash can be the basis of interesing stoneware pottery glazes, especially in a wood fired kiln.Not for everyone, I appreciate !

  8. Please can you clarify which ash you can safely use on your garden – especially when growing vegetables? I understand that ash from multi-fuel stoves that burn coal, smokeless fuel, briquettes etc has too much sulphur and may harm plants (and animals).

    • Hi Anna,

      As alluded to in the article, we’re by no means gardening experts. We’re referring to wood ash here.

      As you say, the indication seems to be don’t use coal and smokeless fuel ashes in the garden, but it doesn’t seem like anyone has a definitive answer.



  9. We are in the process of changing our open fire to a wood burning stove. Is it possible to open the doors without it affecting the efficiency of the stove ?

  10. wood ash is alkaline and good for most plants,except those lime hating like rhododendrons,azaleas etc.
    coal ash is acidic and is best left to weather before use on the garden.

  11. Ash is amazing for cleaning ovens. Removes all the grease with ease. All your racks glass doors it’s so easy no nasty chemicals or fumes. Also great for oven dishes pans etc great for the environment and zero cost.

  12. Well, now heres a problem: I have been burning a lot of wood over many years in a brazier in the garden ( I say ‘brazier, but it’s just a washing machine drum )
    I was going to put the ashes on the garden assuming that it’s all biodegradable, but I was told that the ash has a lot of potassium and will do all sorts of horrible things to your plants.

  13. One of the major elements of wood ash is sodium. When wood is burned it oxidises to form sodium oxide which then very quickly absorbs water to form sodium hydroxide (ie caustic soda). NaOH has a very low pH so be very careful to mix and dilute the wood ash well with soil and never put it directly on plant roots.
    Never put the ash from wood, which has been burned with COAL, on the garden as coal ash contains heavy metals such as lead and arsenic, … which are extremely toxic to plant roots.

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