7 ways to recycle sawdust

Anyone working in the wood cutting industry, whether a professional or a DIY enthusiast, often has to deal with a lot of sawdust residue.

Upcycling sawdust
Upcycling sawdust

Disposing of sawdust can be a hassle, but fortunately there are many ways to recycle wood waste.

If you do not intend to recycle it, remember that sawdust, as an organic material, can be deposited in the wet waste bin, if we are lucky enough to live in a municipality that separates waste.

The use to which sawdust can be put varies greatly according to the thickness of the sawdust itself, the type of wood and other materials that may have been added during processing.

Sawdust formed during chainsaw cutting, for example, also contains percentages of oil from chain lubrication.

1. Using sawdust as a fire starter

Perhaps the most obvious way to recycle sawdust is to burn it.

In this case, wood curls from planing are ideal, especially if the wood has been seasoned a little.

This is if we intend to use the sawdust as it is without further complications.

However, if we are camping enthusiasts and want to build a nice campfire, we could create eco-friendly fire starters by mixing together simple materials such as sawdust (in this case, it is better if it is quite fine), crushed egg cartons and liquid wax.

The best wood for making firelighters is soft, light wood, e.g. pine or fir, which is also quite resinous.

Wax has the function of preserving the wood and cardboard from moisture and allowing slow and controlled combustion.

2. Sawdust to increase grip on ice

Winter is just around the corner and if you live in an area that experiences frequent frost, you know that sawdust can help make your driveway or garage ramp safer.

Sawdust is not an alternative to ice as it does not cause the ice to melt, but by spreading sawdust over the ice and snow we can increase the grip of our car tyres and also the grip of the soles of our shoes on the ice.

In this case the sawdust reduces the possibility of slipping and the possible consequences of a fall on ice.

A natural anti-slip, therefore, whose only drawback is that it sticks to the soles of shoes and is therefore easy to transport around the house.

3. Sawdust to fill cracks and holes in wood

Wood dust mixed with vinyl glue can be used to fill cracks and holes in wood.

This is a do-it-yourself solution that can be used for non-valuable furniture, for which it is much better to use commercially available fillers.

For an aesthetically pleasing result, it is important to use sawdust from the same wood species as the piece of furniture to be repaired, so that the filler is less noticeable.

4. Sawdust for weed control

Sawdust is not a weed killer, of course, but it can be used as a mulch to stop them growing.

It is good to do some research and testing before using sawdust for mulch as some wood species (such as walnut wood) may be toxic to plants, not just weeds.

A mulch made from a thick layer of fine sawdust could also stop weed growth as it becomes more compact, but it could also create a layer that is almost impermeable to water and air, causing the root system of the plant we are trying to protect to suffer.

5. Sawdust for pet bedding

Some animals use a litter box where they normally do their business.

With sawdust on hand, it doesn't make sense to spend money in pet shops to buy litter boxes.

Cats, hamsters, guinea pigs and even most birds like to scratch around in sawdust and it's easy to clean.

After being used as bedding, the sawdust can be thrown into the compost heap so that it can be recycled twice!

However, do some research or seek advice from your vet as some wood species can be toxic to our furry and/or feathered friends.

6. Sawdust for absorbing spills

Given its high degree of absorbency, sawdust can be used to absorb and clean up spills of all kinds.

We have already seen the use of sawdust as pet bedding, but sawdust is also commonly used in garages when doing oil changes as it absorbs spills and ensures that the floor does not become dangerously slippery.

If your DIY passion is mainly focused on the maintenance of your car or motorbike, always remember to keep a lot of sawdust in the garage so that it can easily absorb and/or clean up any spills.

Always remember that sawdust used to absorb potentially toxic liquids, such as waste oil and liquids from radiators, brakes, etc., cannot then be dispersed into the environment but should be taken to the nearest waste disposal centre, where they will know how and where to dispose of it.

7. Sawdust as fertiliser

Sawdust can be reused in the garden as a fertiliser for plants.

However, care must be taken to use it in moderation and to mix it with manure or nitrogen so that the plants do not suffocate.

If we use sawdust in the garden or put it in the compost heap to make excellent organic fertiliser, we must be sure that the wood from which the sawdust comes is not treated and/or contaminated with potentially dangerous substances that could enter the food chain through the plant's root system.

Again, we need to do a little research to check that the wood species from which the sawdust comes does not cause problems for the plants.

The mycelium of fungi, for example, is often grafted onto a substrate of sawdust which encourages its development, and since the fungus is a kind of sponge capable of absorbing the good and the bad in the soil, it is essential that the sawdust is absolutely natural and untreated.

DIY Editor
Do-it-yourself enthusiast. I started with the renovation of my flat and then I changhed this passion into my job.