The ash that’s leftover from your evening fire, what do you do with yours? Most people don’t do anything with it. They dispose of it and never give it a second thought.
In the last post of survival hacks, we talked about the different 18 survival uses for steel wool. In this post, you’re going to learn 23 survival uses for ash that you probably never heard of.
You may be wondering what makes wood ash so useful? Ash is a substance with unique properties and characteristics that not many other materials have. The ashes of wood have an array of minerals most aren’t aware of. It’s rich in:
Continue reading below and let’s start the list of all the way you can use wood ashes for survival, self-reliance, and all-around to be more self-sufficient.
Survival Uses For Wood Ash
You’ve probably seen this in many different outdoor adventure type movies. The guy takes a pinch of sand or ash and raises it up in the air. Let’s it go and you see the ash drift in one direction or another. This is essentially how you can do the same thing with wood ashes to help navigate through your environment.
Wood ash works well for melting ice. The properties that ashes have are similar to the properties to what salt have for melting ice. The only difference between using ashes for melting snow and ice vs using salt is that you don’t want to use it near your front door. The ashes will make marks in your house from your shoes. Salt won’t paint a Picasso painting on your floors, wooden ashes will.
You can take a handful of ashes and rub it onto your pet if the unfortunate event of being sprayed by a skunk should occur. The ashes neutralize the odor. Also, see our post on natural raccoon deterrents.
Brush Your Teeth
Do you pack a toothbrush out in the wild? Well, you may want to skip packing it and leave room for a different item. You can keep your teeth clean by using the ash from your fires. All you have to do is put some into your mouth and chew for a few seconds. Spit it out and just rinse with water and you’ll be amazed. Yes, Colgate is overrated.
Hide Stains on Paving
Anyone who has painted knows that the paint platters and it splatters a lot. There’s not much you can do to prevent it or stop it. Except this. You can absorb wet paint spatters by putting ash directly on the splatter spots.
The combination of water and ash makes an excellent non-toxic polisher for your silver and other metals.
Camouflage on Face and Hands
The color of the ashes is nice and dark grey. It would make you look like you were a gray man, literally.
Clean Glass Fireplace Doors
Since the ashes are right there after your fire is done for the night, use them to clean your fireplace doors.
Remember all the minerals we mentioned above? Those minerals in the ash are excellent for the garden. You can enrich your compost by enhancing it first with wooden ashes. Don’t add too much though, just a few ashes.
Ashes make an excellent mouse deterrent. They don’t like it, period. Have mice in your camper? Or under? Put some ashes where you don’t want mice, and you won’t. Simple as that.
Using ashes in your garden will be useful to you. The ashes work well for building onto the soil, making more of it. It helps to add more depth and density.
Get Car Out of Snow
After living in New England for many years. You bet I used this more than once or twice. If you’re stuck in some snow or ice, put ashes behind your tires. It makes good traction along with cat litter.
Take a handful of ashes and dump it on top of a fire to put it out. Useful for camping trips.
Here’s what you do to make some glue.
- Soak wood ash in water overnight.
- The next day, warm some milk on the stove
- Add vinegar to curdle it, let it sit and harden
- Scoop out the solid piece and put in a clean bowl
- Add water to make a thick, creamy liquid substance
- Then you can just store it in a tightly sealed jar or your choice for container and you have a sticky situation.
Catch Animal Tracks
By laying down ashes, it makes a perfect way to reveal any footprints that step into it. I learned this from spending time with a couple of professional and seasoned trappers. Also, see The Trappers Bible in the survival library here.
Drawing, Writing, and Marking Patterns on Animal Skins
Ashes do a good job at smearing. When they are a little wet, if you take some on your fingers and hands, you can use them to draw and paint by smearing.
Prevent Your Traps From Rusting
Another woodsman use for wooden ashes. Keep your traps rust free by boiling them in water and ash. Try it and your traps will be rust-free.
You can make a soap-like substance and clean just about anything that you would normally clean with ordinary soap. All you need to do is combine wood ashes and water. Add ashes to the object you want to clean first, then add water.
Important: If you’re going to be using ashes as soap in the wilderness, it’s important that you don’t clean anything when you’re within 0-250 feet of any body of water, streams, or other water sources in the wild. Pollution is a serious problem, let’s not contribute to it by being a little mindful before washing something.
Stop The Runs
If you have stomach issues in the wild, it can ruin a camping or backpacking trip. Swallow some ashes and water, it will clear up your stomach in an hour or two.
Wash Your Hands
Ash and water will wash your hands as good as it washes anything else.
Make Willow Bark More Pliable
You can boil willow bark in ashes and water to make it more pliable for building materials.
Some plants love calcium, tomatoes are one of them. Calcium is one of the minerals that is abundant in ashes. Put some ashes in the hole before planting your tomatoes.
Now you know a few different ways to use ash for survival and for around the homestead.
Have you used ash for something not listed in this post? Let us know below.