Are you a woodworker with a ton of sawdust on hand? Perhaps you just got done with a major project and have a load waiting in your dust collector.
It comes with the territory; cutting wood creates a lot of debris usually ends up being disposed. However, there are ways that you can recycle and upcycle that sawdust at home.
Through my own experience, I’ve found the following ways to be the easiest and most effective ways to upcycle sawdust.
Replace Pet Bedding
There are plenty of small pets that enjoy scratching in sawdust. Instead of throwing it out, you could give your pet a new, clean home for digging around.
Sawdust is perfect for gerbils, hamsters, and mice. These animals love to burrow in it and create tunnels.
One word of caution — you will want to make sure that the sawdust composition is fine like powder and there are no large chunks mixed in. For woodworking, this usually isn’t a problem.
If you often spend money replacing your pet’s bedding, recycling your sawdust can save you some serious money. Plus, you get more use out of it, without the material going to waste by disposal.
Create Kitty Litter
If you have a cat, you can even use sawdust as kitty litter. It is excellent at absorbing liquids. However, it will not block the scent (related: what to do if your patio smells like urine).
Luckily, you can purchase a special cat box deodorizer from just about any store and mix it in.
Doing so will result in fresh, recycled kitty litter that does not have a lingering and strong odor surrounding it. I am confident that your cat will appreciate using a natural material over the sand as well.
Make Fake Snow
Sawdust has a similar texture to snow, so you can use it to make some of your own. If you love to decorate for the holidays, white sawdust looks very realistic and festive.
This project is straightforward to do; it only took me a couple of minutes to make a batch of my own. All you need to do is spray it with white spray paint and mix in some glitter or sparkles. Once you do, it will have the appearance of real snow.
You can use this mixture in a variety of decorations as well. I use it in decorating around the home or as a base for gingerbread houses. I am sure you will love it and if you have kids at home, they will too!
Clean up spills
If you work with paint or oil, sawdust works excellent at soaking up spills.
All I do when something gets knocked over is quickly pour a bucket of sawdust over the spillage. It absorbs the liquid quickly and often you can clean up the mess before any stains are left behind.
Once the sawdust is on top of the spill, sweep over it with a stiff-bristled broom.
Then, scoop it up into your dustpan like usual and throw it out. I recommend that you toss it into a plastic grocery bag, tie it up, and take it out to avoid further mess.
Make Plant Food
You can make plant food from sawdust mixed with manure or another plant supplement. The material even helps keep your plants moist, so they will become healthier as time goes on.
If you grow blueberries, you will be happy to know that they love sawdust- making it the perfect mulch choice for them. Rhododendrons enjoy sawdust plant food as well.
Effectively Kill Weeds
Plus, sawdust makes a fantastic weed prevention system. All you need to do is sprinkle it around your plants. Doing so stops weeds from sprouting and keeps the roots of your plants cool and moist.
I love doing this in my garden — you will save a lot of money compared to using store-bought mulch and can get all of the same benefits.
Use as a Fire Starter
Sawdust is a great fire starter. To make it, you need to melt some candle wax in a nonstick pot. From there, add in the sawdust until your mixture thickens.
I like to pour this concoction into an empty egg carton. Once it has cooled, you can cut off the sections and set them up in your fire pit. They work well at getting a campfire started, but you will probably still want to pad it out with newspaper or small sticks.
It also works well if you line the firepit with sawdust before stacking your wood. From there, you can sprinkle more sawdust over top of it and light it — the fire should catch immediately.
Sawdust is dry, so you can expect it to help when your wood does not want to light.
One word of caution — pressure treated wood can be hazardous to burn. I’d avoid this technique with sawdust from that kind of wood.
Stop Soil Erosion
Tossing sawdust onto a dirt path and packing it down helps stop erosion (I wrote an article on soil erosion as well) and creates a pleasant smelling walkway through your property. It may sound unorthodox, but it’s effective and will simply turn into loam after a season or two.
If you live in a rainy area, I am sure you will appreciate not having to replace your pathing material as often.
Use Sawdust to Fill Wood Holes
You can even use sawdust to fill wood holes.
Sawdust repairs holes, dings, cracks, and cuts in wood objects. I start this process by mixing the sawdust with wood glue until it makes a thick goo.
From there, I use it to fill in the holes. I love using this method since the filler I make will always match the wood I am repairing. You can use this to your advantage as well; make sure that your fill has the same type of sawdust in it as what you want to fix.
Anytime I make a piece of furniture, I try to keep some sawdust of the same color around for repairs that inevitably will be needed later.
In short, do not throw out all that sawdust you have been collecting!
You can save it in a bucket in the garage or shed and use it for various situations. Cleaning spills, repairing wood, and lighting fires are just a few ways that you can recycle sawdust from your last project.