When I volunteer at the Weald and Downland museum on Wednesdays, I talk to the bakers and have scrounged some bread and a fantastic biscuit, it dawned on me that they were using one species wood in the oven. The hazel is cut from the woodland at the top of the site it grows on chalk. This means I have a ready supply of one species ash, they didn’t mind me scooping out the ash pit and taking it home where the hard work began.
Firstly it has to be soaked in clean water and the charcoal scooped off,
this can be dried and used ,maybe next summer for a barbeque, after all the ash has been soaked the ash sinks, you then change the water a couple of times this washes it. The water drawn off is very alkaline and was used in soap back in history, fat was mixed in and possibly some bran or herbs, this was allowed to set and used for washing .
Now follows the monotonous part, passing the ash in water solution through three sieves, starting large at 40 microns to 60 then finally 100 microns this took about 4 hours.
We are not finished yet, the water has to be drawn off, the ash dried so that it can be used in glazes. Let’s hope it’s all worth it.