Environmental Sustainability of Wood Ash Usage

In Canada, 4,175,000 km2 of land out of a total 10,000,000 km2 of land is covered by forest. Every year a huge amount of wood ash is produced worldwide, and approximately three million tons of wood ash is produced annually in the United States alone (SAL 2006). Wood ash has great potential to be used as a source of major- and micronutrient elements required for healthy plant growth. Wood ash contains many essential nutrients, mainly calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, for the growth of trees and other plants. Therefore, wood ashes might have potential applications in different sectors as an environment-friendly, sustainable, natural additive.

It has been reported in literature (Anfiteatro, 2007) that wood ashes with neem seed oil, kefir, sea salt, and essential oils might be used to make natural toothpaste, which may help with tooth sensitivity due to the poor condition of tooth enamel or for the prevention of sensitive teeth. This toothpaste has also shown to eliminate gum bleeding if the paste is used on a daily basis. The toothpaste can remove most stains on teeth, such as those caused by cigarette smoking. It may also strengthen tooth enamel and gums. Apart from the traditional usage of wood ash as a source of alkali to the different sectors, it has also been used for a long time to saponify fats in soap making and shampoo producing (Sh 2007). Chhetri et al. (2007) developed a process to produce completely natural birth soap using all natural ingredients such as vegetable oil, coconut oil, olive oil, honey, beeswax, cinnamon powder, neem leaf powder, and natural coloring and flavoring agents instead of synthetic materials. Wood ash extracted alkaline solution was used to saponify the oils to make the natural soap.

This section reveals that the nutritional quality in wood ashes after the alkaline solution extraction and before the extraction from wood ashes is almost same. However, wood ash could be collected separately from different sources, and it could be disposed in the landfill because the nutrient source is from plants. It could also be industrially utilized for cement manufacture. It can be a glazing agent in the ceramics industry, a road base, puzzolona, an alkaline material for the neutralization of wastes (Liodakis 2005), and it can contribute to the establishment of a sustainable process shown in Figure 14.21.

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6otde( of material ba,30Ce

Figure 14.21 Possibilities for a sustainable utilization of wood and wood ash.

Continue reading here: The Use of Soap Nuts for Alkali Extraction

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