Uses For Sawdust

I recently had an occasion to create some sawdust building our square foot garden box.  All that cutting and drilling left a small pile of sawdust behind, and instead of simply scraping it up and throwing it away, I wondered how I might be able to reuse it.  It turns out sawdust has several little-known, but highly effective, uses around the house. From weed killing to cleaning up spills, sawdust is a handyman’s most useful leftover.

It is cheaper than Roundup. Many people are unaware of sawdust’s weed-killing prowess, particularly dust made from walnut and cedar wood varieties. The sawdust not only suppresses weeds similar to mulch or other cover products, but as it decays it creates soil conditions that are not conducive to plant life – even weeds. Carefully sweep sawdust into crevices you don’t want weeds or grass to grow, such as expansion joints in concrete or in between stepping stones in your backyard.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.  Around the holiday season a small pile of sawdust can be mixed with some glue and a little white paint, and used to coat your favorite holiday crafts to simulate snow. Add some glitter for a special holiday sparkle. This also works particularly well when creating a snowy ground for a small nativity scene or similar Christmas display.

Make your own sawdust briquettes to use as firestarters. Have you ever used those soap-like bricks of highly flammable gel to get a fire going? With sawdust and a few other products found around the house you can make your own fire starter briquettes. First, melt some wax in a large Teflon pot – candle wax will do the trick. Begin slowly adding sawdust until the mixture becomes less pliable. Pour up the hot wax/sawdust mixture in some non-stick muffin or cupcake pans and allow them to cool. Slide out the “cake” mixtures and voila, homemade sawdust briquettes guaranteed to get your wood-burning fire going.

Sawdust is super absorbent. Sawdust has fantastic absorbent quality, and soaks up just about any home spill, from motor oil to a bucket of paint. Stash some in your garage and throw it out over a spill if you kick over a can of motor oil. Push it around the spill with an old mop and watch it soak up the spillage.

Trade in those snowchains. This tip is particularly relevant for drivers that must battle snow and ice on their daily commutes. Sprinkling some sawdust in a snowy rut can help your car’s tires gain traction, and prevent the snow and ice underneath from growing further compacted. As a side benefit, it is biodegradable so you are not hurting the environment by throwing out some synthetic, commercial mixture.

The next time you create some sawdust, remember these tips before sweeping it up and trashing it.  You will save a little money and do your part to help the environment.

Image Credit:  steve_lodefink


  1. My 3 1/2 year old daughter uses it as pixie dust and sprinkles it on our heads. I can’t believe that didn’t make your list LOL.

  2. Totally unrelated to saw dust – thanks for your tips on selling books! I used cash4books yesterday, sold 4 books, and posted some on ebay too.


  3. If you want to cut down on your water and sewer bills, sawdust also works great for composting toliets! Never used one myself, but I saw one once and people still use them here and there.

  4. I never thought of sawdust as something you can reuse. I can’t wait to tell my husband to stop throwing it away.