Can Wood Ash Be Composted?

19 April 2018  |  HOTBIN Composting

Composting Log Burner Residue and Wood Ash 

With snow blizzards arriving as late as March, it’s not surprising that the number of UK households creating ‘hugge’ inspired cosy homes complete with a log burner is on the rise. With the amount of ash being produced at home increasing, the burning question is how can log burner owners dispose of it?

Composting Wood Ash

Can Wood Ash Be Composted?

Yes, pure wood ash can be composted in the HOTBIN in small quantities, as long as you have used a 100% natural ingredient based fire lighter.

Many fire lighters sold today are made from sustainable wood and natural waxes and so are 100% natural; these can be safely added as part of the ash into the HOTBIN. Others however unfortunately still contain some ingredients which are not 100% natural such as Kerosene. If your fire lighters list any other non-biodegradable ingredients on the back of the packet, we would advise against adding the resulting wood ash into the HOTBIN to prevent the composting material from becoming contaminated.

Why Can I Only Add Wood Ash in Small Quantities?

Wood ash tends to be powder-like in both size and structure; so when its added into the HOTBIN in large quantities, it tends to clump, causing airflow to become restricted and for the unit to turn anaerobic – something which all HOTBIN users are keen to avoid!

If you want to successfully compost wood ash at home, here are our helpful hints for how best to do it:

  1. Add the wood ash into the HOTBIN gradually –add no more than 1 trowel’s worth at a time
  2. Add a variety of fresh waste into the HOTBIN along with the ash and ensure that it is really well mixed in
  3. Add the recommended quantity of bulking agent and shredded paper in with the fresh waste and ash and mixed it in well. The bulking agent will keep the contents aerated and ensure that the HOTBIN stays working aerobically whilst the shredded paper will help to prevent the wood ash from getting too wet and clumping.

What If I Don't Want to Compost the Ash?

We appreciate that not everyone will want to compost the ash from their log burners. If you choose not to, here are a couple of ideas for what you can do with the ash:

  • Deter slugs & snails – sprinkle a small amount of wood ash evenly around the base of individual plants or around the edge of a whole border. Try to avoid direct contact with the plants though. NB. You will need to reapply this after each rainfall for best effect.
  • Feed your lawn – to help promote a greener and healthier lawn, gently dust your lawn with wood ash and give it a light water to bed it in.
  • Remove algae from your pond – a small amount of wood ash in the pond can help to slow down the growth of algae, allowing you to rake it out and get rid of it.
  • Homemade gifts – for the more adventurous log burner owners, why not try making your own soap and lye with some wood ash like the ancient Babylonians did. Adding wood ash based lye water into the washing machine has been found to work as an excellent clothes brightener.
  • Dispose of it in your council collected waste bin