How to recycle sawdust

Uses for Sawdust

Properly exploited, wood is one of the earth’s most useful sustainable resources. But cutting wood leaves sawdust, a product that is often simply dumped and yet there are numerous uses for sawdust. Some of the ways to recycle sawdust might surprise you.

Sawdust in the garden

Sawdust can be used as mulch around plants. Mixed with manure or nitrogen, as too much sawdust can lead to nitrogen starvation, it helps to promote plant growth and helps moisture retention in the soil. It is important, however, to avoid using sawdust from walnut as this is a natural weed-killer and could harm your plants.

For areas where you want to kill weeds, walnut sawdust is, of course, perfect. It is also ideal for packing between paving slabs on pathways as it will prevent the growth of weeds and keep your pathway looking good. If you have a soil or unpaved walkway, then any sawdust can be tamped into the ground to create a soft path that will resist erosion.

If you live where it snows, then putting sawdust down on sidewalks will help walkers get traction and is less harmful to plant life than salt.

Sawdust is also very useful for keeping tubers over winter. It keeps tubers dry and protected from frost so that they can be replanted in spring. And if you have a number of shrubs or trees to be planted or moved, moist sawdust will help keep the roots from drying out until they are put in the ground.

Sawdust and your pets

Sawdust, with the exception of walnut that is toxic to animals, makes super bedding for your pets. It is soft and warm. Be careful with mice and small rodents, however, as there is a school of thought that suggests that sawdust can harm their health.

Sawdust also makes excellent cat litter. Cats just seem to love it. Using sawdust instead of the crystal litters will save you a considerable amount of money but you need to be aware that sawdust does not absorb odours as well as crystal and it does get into fur and stick to paws, so it can get carried around the house.

Sawdust in the workshop

Every handyman should keep a bucket of sawdust in his workshop or garage. Sawdust is simply the best material for soaking up spills of oil or paint. Sprinkled onto a spill and left for a while it allows you to sweep up the mess with far less trouble than if you try to use old cloths or newspaper. Sawdust can also be used for cleaning oily or greasy hands and tools.

Some handymen also advocate having a layer of sawdust on the workshop floor. It is easier on the feet than concrete, protects the floor and helps prevent damage to tools if they get dropped. You should remember, though, that sawdust is flammable, so take care.

Sawdust is also useful as wood filler. When mixed with putty and wood glue, sawdust makes very good, stainable filler for repairs. Some handymen will keep small packets of sawdust labelled with the type of wood they are from so that the filler can be matched with the wood part to be repaired.

Sawdust for the modeller

Sawdust is a versatile material for the modeller. It can be sprinkled over glue on a board and then painted to add texture and colour to give an effect of grass, snow or soil. Small structures intended to represent trees can be painted with glue and dipped in sawdust; appropriately painted, this gives a surprisingly realistic foliage effect.

Mixed with resin, sawdust can be poured into moulds of whatever shape you choose to make interesting models. The resulting item can be sanded, painted or stained to give any effect you like.

Sawdust in the house

Sawdust makes a first class floor cleaner. Moist sawdust swept over a concrete or tiled floor will pick up more dirt and dust than you can imagine BUT don’t try it on the carpet.

Mixed with melted candle wax and allowed to solidify, sawdust makes a simple and inexpensive fire starter.

Sawdust can also be used as a packing material in the place of bubble wrap, Styrofoam and other materials to protect fragile contents.

Ways to recycle sawdust

These are just a few relatively simple domestic uses for sawdust. There are also a number of commercial uses for sawdust. In the construction industry, one of the most common uses for sawdust is for particleboard while coarse sawdust is used for wood pulp.

Surprisingly, sawdust is used in the food industry. Some low calorie foods contain cellulose, which is made from sawdust, as a filler.

These are just a few uses for sawdust. There are probably many more uses for this most versatile by-product of the timber industry. Maybe you have a few ideas that you would like to share.