I’m on Fire


Wood ash—that leftover pile of soot in your fireplace—has a myriad of uses you might want to consider before sweeping it up and throwing it in the garbage. One cord of firewood leaves behind up to 50 pounds of ashes, which can be used for everything from repelling slugs and snails from your flowers and produce to de-icing driveways and backyards without damaging cement or dirt underneath.

Here at Better Farm, we’re suckers for bonfires. Any excuse we can dream up to build a blaze, we will—and do. The ash we produce gets mixed in with our compost, and will help give our tomato plantings a boost in the spring. But with the seasons changing every-so-rapidly, we’ve started thinking more about creative and sensible ways to have an outdoor fire pit without the hassle of making our way across the street to our ragtag circle of cinder blocks every time.

Outdoor fire pits may hold the key to year-round blazes of glory for us—and for any of you who don’t have the luxury of starting huge fires willy-nilly on your property. In addition to providing you with plenty of ash for making soap and shining silver, outdoor fire pits offer year-round outdoor cooking options, an alternative to watching television, and a really nice accent for your property. If you decide to buy one new instead of cobbing one together, make sure it’s constructed of a material that is undoubtedly going to stand the test of time, such as wrought iron. As for all that wood ash you’ll be creating—store it in a fireproof container with a strong, airtight seal so you can keep coming back to it.

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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.