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Are wood ashes also called 'Potash?'

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by gman1001, Feb 23, 2006.

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  1. gman1001

    gman1001 Member

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    If not, what the heck is potash?

    I've been looking for a good purpose for my ashes. Some folks say put it on your lawn garden etc... Question, is wood ash acidic?

    Just curious on what effect spreading ashes on an already acidic new england lawn/soil base.

    Tx!

    Gman

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  2. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Potash is a "slang" term for potassium carbonate...sort of the same way baking soda means sodium bicarbonate. Wood ashes are not totally "potash" but they do contain a moderate concentration of potassium carbonate.

    Overall wood ashes are alkaline (pH > 7) and they will work to reduce the acidity (raise the pH) of your soil. The key is that depending on how acidic your soil is to begin with, there would be a set amount of wood ashes needed to "ammend" the soil - or bring it to a good growing condition.

    If you are considering dumping ashes on the lawn, you can have the soil tested at a garden shop and they should be able to tell you about how much you need to add. But then that is it...no more ashes required. If you continue to dump ashes on the soil, it will become alkaline and that is a bad thing - although you could add sulfur to lower the pH again.

    So, bottom line, the soil could be a temporary way to get rid of ashes if you need to lower acidity. For me...surrounded by limestone and water coming out of the tap at about 7.8pH, no ashes needed in the soil.

    Corey
  3. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Good hardwood ash is white. Put it in a barrel, when you have half a barrel or more, slowly drizzle water down through the ash. What comes out the bottom is lye.

    Good for making soap. Other than that, maybe put them in a compost pile?

    Joshua
  4. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Soap is good - side note that the "lye" from wood ashes is potassium hydroxide, not the more common sodium hydroxide which is more typically thought of as "lye" - dang slang terms again.

    If you are wanting to get the most "bang" for your wood ash buck, an industrious person could set up the extraction detailed above, boil down the lye solution to get a lye concentrate, pop into the local fast food shop and pick up a barrel of used vegetable oil. Once you are home, fire up the still and get some good ethanol flowing. Now, "simply" :) combine your ethanol, veggie oil and lye...wave the magic wand and do a little chemistry hocus-pocus....one transesterification reaction later...poof...biodiesel!


    Corey
  5. martel

    martel Member

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    Tyler Durden?
  6. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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    Dylans description is right on the money. KOH, or potassium hydroxide is made from hard wood ash. The ash is added to water. Plain water no chlorinated water if you want it pure. The water is allowed to evaporate (or boiled off) and Potash or potassium hydroxide will remain as the main ingredient. This is just a basic description or how it is made. It is purified and cleaned of the other stuff that gets in there. It is caustic by nature (a base not an acid). The more concentrated the potash, the more stronger or pure the base is.

    If you just add some water to ash and let the floaties go away, then let it evaporate, I doubt that it would be all that strong, but it does have the potential to burn skin, damage eyes, and encourage rust to ferrous metals, it also absorbs moisture.

    The potassium found in wood ash is good for your lawn. It will make your grass greener, and it is good for the garden as well. Look at a fertilizer bag. The more potassium, the greener the grass will get (to a certian extent, to much will burn your lawn). Personally, I would just sprinkle the ash from your bucket to your garden or flower beds. Hope this helps
  7. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Thank you Dylan.

    Scholar and a gentleman.

    Joshua
  8. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    Don't put it on your compost. Kills the worms. Worms do a lot of work in a compost pile.
  9. wingnut

    wingnut New Member

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    Boy I guess I have it completely backwards. I thought that ashes from oak wood were high in acid? I have seem people put them around acid loving plants like evergreens.. I know the Indian's used them to tan deer hides. I did this myself before and what you do is mix ashes with water and soak the hides in it for a few days and it will cause all of the hair to slip off the hide then you can start the tanning processes
  10. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    Dylan:

    Why would you want to do that?

    Afterall, you do have an image...

    Aye,
    Marty
  11. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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  12. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    Dylan:

    That work has to done on the inside.

    Aye,
    Marty
  13. Martin Strand III

    Martin Strand III New Member

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    I think of myself more of a lovva than a fightta.

    Aye,
    Marty

    Like Grandma used to say, "Non illegitimi carborundum."
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