Soot. Cinders. Slag. The ghost of wood past. Yes, I was indeed referring to wooden ash – we know it, we get it, but we do sure hate cleaning it after the magic of sitting by the firepit’s gone. If you’re the proud owner of a fireplace or anything that runs on split logs and fire, then you know just how frustrating it is to remove the ash from the grate.
Let me role-play for a while (gonna be Morpheus from The Matrix). *ahem* What if told you that there’s a way to turn ash into your ally? More than that, what if I told you that wood ash is the very best thing that could happen to a household after baking powder and diatomaceous earth? I know it sounds rather far-fetched. Perhaps even a bit crazy, but, as a matter of fact, the survival potential of wood ash is known since the dawn of time.
For instance, ancient Egyptians would use a mix of water and ash to deal with pests. The same mixture would also act as a deodorizer, wishing away foul smells (and they kind of needed it, especially those who insisted on wearing those ridiculous-looking wigs).
Anyway, because I’m what my wife calls a slug bug, I sort of did some research of ways to deal with wooden ashes (I simply cannot stand the thought of wasting a couple of hours cleaning every stove and pit and then digging holes around the yard to bury the ash).
And so, after snooping around for a while, I discovered that wood ashes are not only great for getting rid of pests or making deodorants but also for many other jobs, much of them having to do with everyone’s favorite topic – SHTF.
So, without further ado, here’s how wooden ash can help you in any shit hits the fan situation.
1. Water filtration
If you’re out of water filtration pills or have no other source nearby, it may be possible to whip up a water filtration system using an old plastic bottle, fresh ashes, pebbles, sand, and two pieces of cloth. The trick is to arrange them in layers: pebbles, sand, cloth, ash, pebbles, sand, ash, cloth, sand, and pebbles again. Use this to sort of strain your dirty water a couple of times. Proust!
2. Getting rid of ice quick and fast
Many don’t know this, but wooden ash is packed with potassium chloride, aka salt. So, using a handful of wood ash on your driveway or front porch has the same effect as using salt. Knock yourself out!
3. Making the fridge stink go away
There’s nothing more repulsive than having to open the fridge only to nail it shut afterward on account of the rancid smell. You don’t need to get everything out and wash the inside with water and dish detergent. Grab a small plate from the pantry and fill it with ash. Stick it inside the fridge, and the smell will disappear in a couple of hours.
4. Keeping your food fresh
No power? No problem. Dig a hole in the ground, fill the bottom with rocks and straw, and put your veggies and fruits inside. Cover with as much ash as you can find and you’ve got yourself a tiny root cellar. Long before the fridge was invented, homesteaders would place veggies, fruits, and even meat in big clay pots, fill them with ashes and sealed with wax.
5. Making a strong decontamination agent
Although it’s highly unlikely for you to get anywhere near radiations, you should know that it’s possible to create a strong decontamination agent using boiled ash. In a big pot, put some water, wait for it to boil, and had a handful of soot. Stir until the ash is dissolved.
Use a coffee filter to strain the stuff. The resulting liquid, also called lye water, can be used to scrub clean your body if get into contact with harmful radiation. By the way, lye water can also be used to clean and sanitize marble, plates, silverware, clothes, floors, and even wooden floors.
6. Remove humidity from emergency food pantries and root cellars
If you discover that your root cellar or pantry where you’ve stashed the emergency supplies are far too humid, you need not spend hundreds of bucks on a dehumidifier. Grab yourself a metal bucket and put some ash inside. The soot will instantly remove all extra humidity from the air.
7. Field toothpaste
Oral hygiene should always be on the top of your list no matter if you’re at home or lost in some neck of the woods without water and food. Anyway, if you ever feel like your teeth are about to go on a strike because you forgot to wash or floss, dip your finger in fresh ashes and rub it against your teeth. It has the same scrubbing effect as baking soda or salt. Sure, it’s a bit messier compared to toothpaste, but at least your gums are clean.
8. Gardener’s best friend
If you ever get around to growing your veggie garden, don’t let those pest or animals ruin your dream. You can get rid of most of them by putting a small ash pile at the base of each plant.
10. No more trips to the vet for ticks, lice, and fleas
I sometimes find it difficult to run to the vet each time one of my cats or dogs come home with fleas or ticks (and yes, it happens very often since we keep them inside only during the winter and early spring.
If you want to save some money of those vet bills, it may be possible to create a strong flea\tick\lice repellent using water, fresh white ash, and a little bit of vinegar. Combine all three inside a bowl or something and stir. The result is thick, off-white paste. My cats and dogs hate it and spreading it on their furs is a nightmare. However, this stuff is as effective as anything you get from the pet shop.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my article on survival uses of wooden ash. Think I’ve missed something? Hit the comments section and let me know.
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