Wood Ash In A Worm Composting Bin

“How about adding wood ash from the fire place to my worm bin ? Love your news letter.” ~ Dwight

Hi Dwight,

That’s a great question.

The short answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT! haha 🙂

While wood ash CAN indeed be used as a soil additive and a compost ingredient – both very much in moderation – it is actually a pretty caustic alkaline (i.e. high pH) material, containing potassium hydroxide (KOH) – sometimes referred to as ‘lye’ (although this term generally refers to sodium hydroxide).

KOH is a chemical that will essentially dissolve living tissue.

Think ‘Drano’ – but worse. Potassium is actually a much stronger alkali metal than sodium (drano contains sodium hydroxide). Obviously, wood ash isn’t pure potassium hydroxide – but still, you certainly don’t want your worms exposed to this chemical AT ALL.

Even in soils and ‘regular’ compost heaps you definitely should use wood ash with caution.

Because of it’s strong alkaline characteristics it is best used in situations where soils or waste materials are excessively acidic, since it will definitely raise the pH.

One thing to keep in mind is the fact that as pH increases, nitrogenous compounds have a much higher tendency to release nitrogen as ammonia gas. Obviously, you don’t really want to lose nitrogen from your compost or your soils (since it’s a key plant nutrient), so it’s important to take this into consideration.

Hope this helps!

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