Old Wood Ashes... safe for dust bathing?

Bleenie

Wyan-DO's
10 Years
Jul 14, 2009
5,014
74
268
The Beautiful Pacific NW ,WA
I have a large wood stove that is my sole heat soure in the house. I have to clean it at the very least once a week and I am wondering if it would be safe to use the old wood ashes in the coop and for the chickens to dust bathe in?

I do DLM in the coop and was thinking i could toss some ashes around in there as well, maybe help kill/keep away mites & lice? also soak up some moisture. This time of year it's hard for the chickens to find a dry place to dust bathe so I was also thinking i might be able to put in a "dust box" and keep some wood ashes(only) in there for them to play in.

Wasn't sure if old wood ashes were safe for them or not so I figured I better check with everyone here first before i did something possibly very stupid
 

aussie pete

Songster
7 Years
Jul 28, 2012
317
44
103
all good, wood ash smothers lice.just make sure it is cooled well enough before putting in dustbath/coop
 

Bleenie

Wyan-DO's
10 Years
Jul 14, 2009
5,014
74
268
The Beautiful Pacific NW ,WA
Thank you guys! the ash bucket is full after 2 cleanings, and well cooled so I will go ahead and try this after i get the coop all cleaned out and new shavings put down. I'm excited for the birds to be able to dust bathe again, they've been looking so raggedy with all this muddy weather so i'm sure they'll love it.
 

smilingcat

Songster
9 Years
Jun 1, 2010
157
13
144
Pacific Northwest
HOLD IT!!!

Wood ash contains potassium hydroxide. Yes it will kill lice, fleas bacteria but DON'T USE IT IN A COOP. It is very very caustic and not good for any living animals!!

Take a half a cup of wood ash, add a cup of water, mix it really well with spoon. Stick your hand it for a less than a minute. You'll find that your had is silky soft and smooth! That is because it is MELTING your skin away!! If it doesn't keep it in there for another minute or two.

Stuff is very very caustic and was one of the main ingredients in making soap from animal fat. The process is called saponification.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saponification

DON'T PUT WOOD ASH INTO THE COOP OR NESTING BOX!!
 

Hishigata

Songster
7 Years
Sep 7, 2012
156
45
119
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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_ash
 

Pullet Surprise

Songster
7 Years
Mar 11, 2012
606
32
148
Moore County, North Carolina
I use them on mine, rubbing it right down to the skin, no problems, they would have less contact with it in the coop than that. They dust bathe in it themselves. I have some in my coops as well. Not a bit of problem. no skin irritation
 

Bleenie

Wyan-DO's
10 Years
Jul 14, 2009
5,014
74
268
The Beautiful Pacific NW ,WA
Well I COVERED the inside of the coop earlier. blasted all the walls, entire floor and all the roosting areas then dumped the leftover in the wheelbarrow that was about half full of shavings(been cleaning the coop out, slowly but surely) so they will get a chance to bathe in it if they want to.

I guess I will see in the next week or so if it's bothering any of the birds. It was only dusty when i was taking it out of the bucket but it settles almost immediately. I didn't even cough or sneeze when i was throwing it all over the place so I don't think the chickens will have any problems with it(respiratory).
 

smilingcat

Songster
9 Years
Jun 1, 2010
157
13
144
Pacific Northwest
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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_ash
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!!
 
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