Wood ash

Tue Mar 04, 2014 1:41 pm

We have always used wood ashes on hard packed snow or ice, both to improve traction and melt it faster. Even when in the teens, with just a little sun it will eat into snow and ice like a blow torch, plus it is almost like having cleats or chains. A good thing is it tracks, tires will pick it up and carry it further with each trip over it. A bad thing is shoes will also pick it up and carry it, into the car, house, etc. I have always though that a lot of it's action was due to the inherant lie in it, but never knew for sure. I was wondering if we have any people who know enough about organic chemistry to know if this is correct, or if there are other reasons for the way it works.

Re: Wood ash

Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:49 pm

Yes John drill small holes in 5gallon bucket fill full of hard wood ashes pour rain water thru ashes repeat this 3or4times takes 2or3days now you have lye, it should be strong enough to dissolve a chicken feather. I do make lye soap!!

Re: Wood ash

Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:19 am

The ashes being dark would absorb heat which helps melt ice and snow, also wood from the burning process, convert to salts. The salts will melt the snow or ice.
:idea: I think you should start packaging it and selling it…probably a good market for it this winter!

Re: Wood ash

Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:47 pm

Potassium hydroxide, among other things. Known as lye. Commercial lye is typically sodium hydroxide. The chemical action of both is very similar. I have seen my elders make soap with lye and fat. Often "strong" lard was the fat that was used. Only the brave would use lye soap on their body.
Wood ashes are "basic" (alkaline) and are chemical opposites of acids. So wood ashes act much as lime does for the soil.

Re: Wood ash

Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:41 pm

When we use to scald pigs. We use to put some wood ashes in the water so the hair would come off easier. GI soap wasn't much more then lye and lard.

Re: Wood ash

Sat Mar 08, 2014 3:23 pm

torchred89 wrote:When we use to scald pigs. We use to put some wood ashes in the water so the hair would come off easier. GI soap wasn't much more then lye and lard.


It was probably bars left over from the, War for Southern Independence or War of the Great Rebellion. As I tell school kids, " When the off chance you found water to bath you might of had a bar of lye soap made out of just pig fat and lye, will kind of get you clean. Don't smell to good, keeps bugs away, keeps girls away too. :lol: "

Re: Wood ash

Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:26 am

rjfcsa wrote:
torchred89 wrote:When we use to scald pigs. We use to put some wood ashes in the water so the hair would come off easier. GI soap wasn't much more then lye and lard.


It was probably bars left over from the, War for Southern Independence or War of the Great Rebellion. As I tell school kids, " When the off chance you found water to bath you might of had a bar of lye soap made out of just pig fat and lye, will kind of get you clean. Don't smell to good, keeps bugs away, keeps girls away too. :lol: "

The Army still use it in 1965 in the mess halls. The bars were as big as a meatloaf pan. It did turn everything white and didn't smell very good.