Thursday, July 10, 2008

wash your ash

i went and picked up about 80#'s of wood ash today. i get mine from a local barbecue joint, they're one of the only ones that uses only mesquite(as opposed to mixed hardwoods, hurts consistency) and they have a crossdraft style smoker which keeps fat and drippings out of the ash. do i sound picky? we have about 15+ bbq joints here in town so why not make my job a little easier?

there is much debate with ash glazing potters of to wash or not to wash. i am an ash washer. you can get away with not washing some softwoods, but hardwoods tend to go bad(changes the glaze, usually not for the better) in as little as a week which means you can only mix up what you need at a given time. washing also adds a bit more consistency to the end product because who knows what contaminents are in a batch of ash and those are certainly not going to be consistent.

here's a bit of a tutorial for anyone interested:

i pre-screen with a large mesh. don't forget your respirator! ash is definitely an irritant.

the culprits: most of this would float to the top anyways but its easier to get it out now. at least they're wearing gloves to handle the meat!

fill bucket with about 1/3 ash and top off with water.

mix and let settle, screen off all the floating chunks and crud. once its settled you'll be left with a nasty smelling liquid that looks like pee.

once settled pour off the old water, top off with fresh water and mix. wash, rinse, repeat until the water is clear and less foul smelling(hardwoods can be 4-5 times). i pour the ash into my clay drying racks to dry.
well, i'm off to a headstone carver to see if i can score some granite dust.
local materials rule!


Kent Harris said...

Hey dude....the ash looks good....I saw your plates at warren's last week! are your going up there soon?

brandon phillips said...

yeah, we're leaving sunday and spending next week in mn/wis. do the plates look good? i asked him to make them however he wanted.

Ron said...

What's this?!! Plates by Warren? Oh God, I'm so jealous! Have a good trip.

Tracey Broome said...

Thanks for the ash tutorial. When I get my kiln built that is one of the first things I want to experiment with. Community kilns aren't too fond of ash experiments......

brandon phillips said...

yeah ron, we scored some warren plates. i'll share that story when we get back.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Thanks, I've always wondered what the heck people are talking about when they say they wash their ash before using.