Thursday, February 17, 2011

(re)using ashes from our woodstove

Our driveway isn't very long, but the entire thing is on a slight slope, with a steep section right before the road. There are days (or months) during the depths of winter when my little front wheel drive car won't make it out the driveway. Sometimes I even need to put the truck in 4 wheel drive to get out. This winter, the steep section hasn't been too bad, but the relatively 'flat' stretch I have to walk from the front door to the garage/barn where my car is parked has a slight sideways slope, and when the driveway is pretty much skate-able, that slight tilt means slipping and falling... So I suggested to my husband yesterday morning that perhaps he could walk around and spread the ashes from the stove on it. This is something my dad used to do on his driveway when I was a kid (he still does this even now). It really works! This pic was taken this morning and no more fear of slipping! The driveway is totally walkable now. I can tell where he missed areas with the ashes too, as they are still shining with ice. The dark ashes heat up from the sun's rays and melt the ice faster than it otherwise would - for free!
ash & sun successfully melted my glare ice driveway

How we do it
We keep a large metal garbage bin on the front porch and once a week or so (depending on the wood we are burning and how long we've had the fire going each day) we empty the ash tray into it.
I keep an old yogurt cup in the top and use that to sprinkle ash on any ice that develops between the front door and the wood shed, but yesterday my husband dragged the whole metal bin full of ashes out onto the driveway with him so that he didn't have to walk back and forth so much as he sprinkled ashes everywhere.
The only thing I am careful to do is when I am just starting to fill the metal bin up I keep the bin on dirt, so just in case a warm coal gets in there, there is no danger of the wood porch below the bin getting too hot. Once I have a good layer of cold ashes down, I bring the bin back up on the porch so it's easy to step out and dump the ashes without having to even put my shoes on.
In the summer time we store the can out of sight in the wood shed.


  1. We just had a thaw and need to scatter something asap, because the ground is frozen hard and the ice is pretty slick. I prefer sand as the ash tracks into the house and the result isn't pretty. Am about to mount the ice grippers on my boots before I go for the papers.

  2. what a great idea, we just normally suck up the ashes with our shop vac. Hmm might have to put this one to use. Thank you for the info.

  3. What a great idea! We always have loads of ashes too... Will remember this next time we have an ice storm. Thanks for sharing this with the Homestead Barn Hop. Hope to see you again next week!

  4. Awesome Idea! I will have to remember this for our future home-steading...Yah willing!

  5. This is great! Can't wait til our stove is up and going!


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