Ashes – From Skunks to Blueberries

There are a few tricks for ashes that I learned while I worked in the bush:

  1.  Cleans Fire-Blackened Pots:When I was just starting to camp cook, I had an older

    Ash from the firebox of my wood cookstove kept my kettles and pots sparkly clean.

    lady helping me one day.  She mentioned a quick and easy way to take the black soot stains off of camp dishes.  Take newspaper or paper towel or an old rag and wet it slightly and then dip it in cooled ashes and rub on your fire-blackened pot.  It comes off clean as a whistle and shiny to boot with very little elbow grease!  I often got many compliments on how clean my coffee pots and pans were even though I used them over a wood fire or grill.

  2. Deodorizes the outhouse:  Take cooled down ashes and dump down your outhouse hole.  A quick way to take care of those pesky lingering outhouse smells.  Of course I once worked with a guy who shoveled out the camp stove and put the warm ashes in a plastic pail.  Need I tell you, ALWAYS use a metal container for ashes even if you think they are cold!  The plastic melted and nearly started a fire!  I also worked with another guy that dumped hot ashes down the outhouse hole and started an outhouse fire.  Yep try to use COLD ashes for this job!
  3. De-skunk a dog: Once my faithful trusty camp dog, Chevy managed to corral a

    Chevy, my trusty camp dog

    skunk.  Peee-ewwww!  Handfuls of COLD ashes rubbed into his coat helped a lot to tone down that sharp awful smell.

  4. Melts ice: Sometimes a build up of ice around the tent or cabin door created slippery situations. A handful of cold ashes sprinkled over the walkway helped melt or soften the ice and create traction for those unsuspecting and tired hunter’s and guide’s feet when they were coming in from the dark.

My hunter guests helping sort wild blueberries. It was their anniversary and they wanted blueberry pie. (They volunteered to sort the berries)

5.  Plant Fertilizer: I guess this wouldn’t be considered a trick but more of a tip.  When I was riding or hiking, I sure noticed that wild blueberries grew plentiful in old burns (areas regrowing from forest fire).  Wood Ash can be used as a fertilizer for certain garden plants and certain berry bushes such as blue berries and raspberries.  Be alert if you’re walking through an old forest burn one day during August, check for blueberries!  Wild ones are so yummy and they make the best sweet treats.

Wild Blueberry Chiffon Pie

I’m sure there are many more tips and tricks for ashes and I would love to hear of your own experiences with ashes (hot or cold)!

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