Smart Ash?

What do you do with the ashes from your fireplace? Toss them in with your garbage or haul them out to that special place reserved at the dump? Or did you know that ashes are a completely natural material that is rich in much needed calcium?

It’s true! Ashes are full of calcium, and calcium is not just #20 on the periodic table, but an essential element for a healthy environment. So important that it’s one of the key measures we’re tracking as part of our Bob Lake Stewardship program (checkout our numbers here). So rather than dumping your ashes in the garbage – spread them around your property (maple trees will be especially thankful). Just be certain the ashes are completely extinguished (that should go without saying, but I’m just say’n!).

Want to learn more? The Friends of Muskoka Watershed have created a whole program around this called ASHMuskoka. Checkout their website to learn more about the science and benefits something as simple as this can have.

6 Comments on “Smart Ash?

  1. A few more tips I came across around spreading your ashes:
    – Use cold ash in your gardens and on forest soils.
    – Spread wood ash widely on your property. Do not concentrate ash in any one area.
    – Apply wood ash in spring after snow has melted.
    – Sugar maple trees: Sprinkle wood ash on the ground out to the extent of the tree canopy. Do not apply ash near the trunk of tree.
    – Do not dump wood ash in the littoral zone (near shoreline) or in any water body on or near your property.

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  2. We do take ours to the dump and put them where they direct us. Do u happen to know what they do with them???

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    • Just scatter them on the ground in wooded areas. Maple trees (particularly sugar maples) benefit most. The rain will wash the ashes into the ground, where their elements such as calcium will eventually make their way into the lake, which is good for our lake’s ecosystem. Read the article about daphnia and the critical work they do for lakes on the ASHMuskoka website link referenced above.

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    • I just realized that I didn’t actually answer the question, which was what do they do with the ashes collected at the dump? I don’t know for certain, but I suspect the ashes eventually find their way to same landfill area as the rest of our garbage. I did some Googling and found Minden Hills “Policy #34 – To Govern Burning at the Municipal Solid Waste Landfills”. In there they provide the following guidance to landfill site operators – “the site operator should clear residual ashes from a fire and dispose of the ash with normal incoming waste as soon as practically possible. The ashes must be cold prior to mixing with waste. Residual ashes should not be allowed to accumulate at the designated burning area.”. If ashes from burning wood and brush at the landfill are sent to “normal incoming waste”, then I suspect so to are the ashes that residents bring to the landfill. Regardless of what the landfill operators do with the ashes, you can bet they are not benefiting the health of Bob Lake!

      In my Googling I found another interesting article on this topic that I recommend (see link below). In there they highlight that not dumping your ash at the landfill helps by diverting material going to the landfill, and providing a chance to benefit your lake and surrounding forest.

      http://www.haliburtonecho.ca/using-wood-ash-to-restore-calcium-in-lakes-and-forests

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