Originally Posted by Hishigata
Wood ash does contain potash (potassium hydroxide) but it accounts for less than 10% of the total chemical composition. Ash is mainly composed of calcium carbonate or calcium oxide depending on the heat of combustion, exposure to air, etc. While ashes can be used to make wood-ash soap, the caustic solution (lye) is produced by extracting the potassium hydroxide not using the ashes as they are straight from the fire. I don't think the ashes will be harmful to your chickens. I have seen a few posts that recommend ash, but like all things ash should probably be used in moderation.
Here is a wikipedia article on wood ash if you are interested:
Ceramic artists and those making pottery will tell you not to handle wood ash bare hand. They do NOT purify the potassium hydroxide. Even in concentration of 5-10%, it will saponify your skin!! I don't know where and why people think its okay! IT'S NOT!! If you don't believe me, make a solution of wood ash and stick your hand in it for about 10 minutes!! And if you have a chance get a litmus paper (tests the ph) you will get a reading of 12 or higher even with raw wood ash. ph of 0 to 1 is extremely acidic things like 10M concentration of hydrochloric acid, nitiric acid, and sulfuring acid. These are strong acid. on the other extreme are ph of 14. Things like sodium hydroxide aka, lye, hot lye... and potassium hydroxide. Exremely caustic.
If you don't think mixture of wood ash and water is totally safe, better than just placing your hand in the solution for 10 minutes, make the stuff and put it into your aluminum pot and tell me what happens in 10-30minutes.
For those who say it is safe, needs to take a basic chemistry class!! This just makes me fuming mad. Old wives tale!! Just because you read it somewhere that it is safe doesn't make it so.
BTW, my background includes "basic chemistry" in college and also includes p-chem, statistical thermodynamics (chemistry) and some quantum chemistry. Where in the heck did you get your information that it is safe!? Lets compare our sources!!
Edited by smilingcat - 12/12/12 at 10:33am