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7 Smart Uses for Sawdust – Recycling & Reusing Ideas


If you do any woodworking, you’ve created sawdust. The more work you do, the more you create. It’s an inevitable byproduct.

Getting rid of that byproduct is often a serious problem in workshops where a lot of woodworking takes place. Kicked up into the air, it can create a health hazard. Left on the ground, it can create a fire hazard. But it doesn’t have to be something you dump into the garbage. You can turn that sawdust into something that works for you. We’ve got some ideas for you.

1. Start a fire

Sawdust is finely chipped wood, which on the floor might make a mess. But it’s also flammable. You can use sawdust as part of a kindling strategy to get a fire going. Use it as the base, and then pile thicker pieces of bark and twigs on top and build from there. You can also use it as the base of paraffin firestarters.

sawdust firestarters
Image credit: Gary J. Rihn

2. Traction in winter

If it gets super cold where you live, salt isn’t going to melt ice on your driveway or sidewalk, which leaves you the uncomfortable alternative of making those places walkable until warmer temps bring a melt. Sand is a popular way to gain traction on ice, but sawdust is a more readily available means, especially if you have a workshop.

3. Garden mulch

Wood chips are a popular landscaping mulch. They help keep moisture in and the hot sun off the soil. If you don’t give garden tours, a mulch out of sawdust does the same things. The difference is that it is even better at absorbing water and keeping the soil surface moist and cool. Its light color also helps reflect light rather than absorb heat.

garden mulch
Image credit: Doug Beckers

4. Cleaning up spills

Among its many other qualities, sawdust absorbs liquids very easily. That makes it a natural for use on spills of things that are usually considered tough to clean up, like spilled motor oil or even blood. Just spread it over the spilled liquid, give it a few minutes to soak up whatever you spilled, and then sweep it into a dustpan. You might have to apply a couple of different coats, but it’s faster and easier than using rags.

5. Cat litter

If you run out of cat litter and don’t have any sand on hand, sawdust is a good alternative for use in a pinch. Assuming your cat will accept it in the litter box, it works fast to absorb the mess your cat makes. Just be aware that it is not an odorless litter alternative and that you’ll need to swap it out a lot faster than commercial varieties.

6. Cleaning concrete

With a slightly larger grit than sand but a little softer, sawdust has great use in cleaning things like concrete. You can use it to break up things like clumps of dirt caked to the floor of your garage. These are surfaces you don’t need to be cleaned so spotless you can eat off them, but for which excess materials can create additional problems. The added bonus is that you can use it to soak up brines and oils.

7. Gentle abrasive

Sawdust soaked in water becomes a gentle abrasive that you can use to clean other floors, too. It’ll knock up caked-on dirt and pieces of grit on your floor. It works well on concrete, but it’s also suitable for other kinds of floors. It has a bonus in that it’ll soak up certain different kinds of spilled liquids.


If you do woodworking, don’t just sweep up the waste and toss it in the garbage. There are a lot of things you can do with it to help you maximize the dollars you spend on your craft. We’re sure that we haven’t named everything you can do with it, and if you’ve got a nimble and creative mind, there are plenty of other uses you can find for sawdust.

Is it true that wood chips can act as weed blockers? We put it to the test!


Header image credit: Horia Varlan, Flickr

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