Well, today is Ash Wednesday, and many Christians will be attending worship services tonight in order to receive ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross as their pastor says the words, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Ash Wednesday starts the repentant and reflective season of Lent, which goes until Easter morning when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus. My hubby & I will be attending our church this evening and also partaking of the yummy Soup/Salad Supper beforehand. :-)
Each year, our church gets their ashes for Ash Wednesday by burning the palm branches from the previous year's Palm Sunday worship service. This is a great idea as it makes use of any leftover palm branches. But I was recently reading that ashes, in particular wood ashes, are good for cleaning as well, which was a surprise to me. (You would think that as an avid camper, I would have known this fact!)
Wood ashes have been used for centuries as a source of lye in the soap making process. When lye derived from wood ashes is mixed with fats or oils (as are found in greasy pans and utensils) a chemical action takes place that produces what we call soap. Hardwoods work the best, i.e. wood from trees that have flat, green leaves that normally lose their leaves in colder temperatures. All you do is mix clean wood ashes (make sure they don't contain any plastic residue in them or anything else that might be considered toxic) with clean water (if you obtain the water from an outdoor stream or lake, make sure to boil it first in order to kill all the bad, little organisms) and that's it! You have soap that will clean your pots/pans and utensils!
Since this kind of soap is like using lye, be sure you don't let it stay on your hands too long, or use it to wash your body, otherwise you'll be in big trouble! We've all seen what a zombie's skin looks like and it certainly didn't get that way by regularly using an Oil of Olay product. Be sure to was your hands in clean water as soon as possible after you use wood ashes on your dishes.
That's today's helpful tip! Have a blessed Ash Wednesday, everyone!