A few weeks ago we spent the better part of one day taking the stove pipes apart and cleaning them. We also did a really thorough cleaning of the outside chimney as well as all the heat channels inside the stove, and we intended to finish off by polishing all the nickel trim on the outside of the stove. We have always used the recommended product for this polishing… a strong-smelling paste that needs to be rubbed on, left until it turns white, and then polished off. It’s not a job I like, but a necessary one because the nickel trim on this stove is only beautiful when it is kept polished and shining.

The wood stove in our kitchen

Chimney and stove cleaning are messy jobs at best. We had carefully spread papers and managed to confine the mess to a small area… UNTIL someone who shall remain nameless accidentally dropped the end of the vacuum cleaner hose as it was blowing air out… into the bucket that was full of fluffy ashes. I won’t even try to describe what happened next… it is enough to say that almost immediately a layer of ash covered the stove and everything near it… including me.

It turned out to be one of those happy accidents. During the clean-up (of the clean-up!) as we used wet cloths to clean off the ashes, we noticed that just wiping off the wet ashes was cleaning and polishing the nickel trim much better than the chemical paste ever did. We used more ashes and polished another area of trim… and another… and another. The results were just amazing. By this time the nameless party previously mentioned was taking full credit for this turn of events and suggested that perhaps the ashes would work just as well on the enamel portions of the stove… and they did. Ordinary wood ashes have turned out to be the quickest and best stove cleaner and polisher I have ever used. Who could have guessed?

Dislcaimer note: I have since tried ashes on chrome and the results were so impressive I now keep a small jar of ashes under the bathroom sinks just for polishing up the faucets. I would imagine ashes would work on a multitude of other items as well, but be sure to ALWAYS test them out on a tiny inconspicuous area before you use them where they could do damage.

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I’ve also used the ashes from our woodstove to clean the glass in the stove doors; first I spritz a 1:1 white vinegar and water solution onto the glass and onto the cleaning cloth. I dip the cloth into the cold ashes and scrub the glass. Works a treat!

I’ve never tried to polish nickel trim as we don’t have a wood cookstove (I’m so jealous–I want one!), but I’ve used ketchup to polish the copper bottoms of my pans after washing them in soapy water.

I love non-toxic cleaners.


wood ash has been around a long time, my mother in law showed me how useful it is, and I’ve been using it here and there for forty years. And it does a bang-up job on chrome.