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14 Clever Uses for Sawdust

Sawdust is versatile and extremely useful. Here are 14 reasons why. 

Sawdust might be a byproduct of cutting pieces of wood but that doesn’t mean it can’t still be useful. You might be surprised by how many alternative uses for sawdust there are.

Instead of throwing your sawdust away, it is worth taking some time to learn about the different ways sawdust can be used. That is why we have written about more than a dozen different things that can be accomplished with these wood shavings.

These include uses for sawdust in your home and garden, caring for your pets, and making your lifestyle more sustainable. If you have a pile of sawdust and don’t know what to do with it, these ideas might inspire you.

Key Takeaways

  • Alternative uses for sawdust include natural weed killer, cleaning grimy floors, pet bed substitute, and soaking up spills.
  • Sawdust can be used as plant fertilizer, improving ground traction, paint disposal aid, and DIY fire starters.
  • Other uses include sustainable wood filler, arts and crafts material, cement alternative, and kitty litter.
  • Remember to use sawdust responsibly and in appropriate amounts to ensure the best results for each use.

14 Alternative Uses for Sawdust

Given that sawdust is just a byproduct created by cutting wood, it is surprisingly versatile. Let’s explore 14 alternative uses for sawdust to help you make the most of it.

1. Natural Weed Killer

Sawdust flower beds

Sprinkle a generous amount of sawdust around the base of your plants and shrubs. It acts as a mulch to naturally suppress weed growth. It also retains moisture, which will gradually feed the soil and might allow you to water your plants less frequently.

Quick Tip

Be sure to add nitrogen to keep the plants and soil healthy.

2. Clean Grimy Floors

Cleaning up grime can be a major hassle and you might just end up spreading it around instead of removing it. Sawdust is very absorbent,  so it is excellent for cleaning. Simply toss some sawdust onto the dirt and wait a while.

You can also mix the sawdust with some water and make a wet scrub. This is effective on hardwood and stripped wooden floors.

3. Pet Bed Substitute

Pet Bed Substitute

Buying sawdust from a pet store can be expensive. If you are a woodworker or know one, you can save money by using the sawdust that is created. If you don’t have pets that need sawdust but know someone who does, you can do them a favor by giving it to them instead of throwing it away.

Bedding Tip

You can use small wood shavings as a base and place finer sawdust on top to provide more comfortable bedding.

4. Soak Up Spills

Oil and gasoline leaks can be hazardous, both in terms of slipping and if you have any pets. Sawdust is a naturally absorbent material, so it is great for cleaning up spills. It will also dry the area and make it safe to walk on.

This is the reason bars often have sawdust on the floor. Simply sprinkle the sawdust on the spillage and leave it to soak up the moisture. Once it has dried, remove it and it should take the spill with it.

5. Plant Fertilizer

Plant Fertilizer

You can add a small amount of sawdust to your compost, especially if you like growing mushrooms. Fungi often grow in old, damp woodpiles, so adding some sawdust should encourage their growth. This is usually more effective with sawdust from softwood, rather than hardwood.

6. Better Ground Traction

Sprinkling sawdust over snowy or icy surfaces will make the surface rougher and provide some extra grip. The same is true for oil spills. You can also use sawdust to add some grip to smooth garden paths.

If you are painting floors, such as concrete steps or a ramp, you can mix sawdust with the paint to make it less smooth and provide a better grip. This will make the surface a bit safer for anyone who walks on it.

7. Paint Disposal

Paint Disposal Aid

Leftover paint is rarely permitted to be disposed of in your garbage, so you need to find creative ways to dispose of it. One option is to pour some sawdust into your old paint tin and leave it to absorb the paint. Once the paint has hardened, it is no longer hazardous and can be thrown into the trash.

8. DIY Fire Starters

If you have any leftover wax from candles, melt it in a pan over low heat, then drop enough sawdust in to solidify it. While it is still hot, pour the mixture into old cardboard egg cartons and leave it to set. When it has cooled thoroughly, simply tear off the individual briquettes and they will make great excellent fire starters.

Easy Cleaning

Your leftover sawdust will come in handy for cleaning any remaining wax off the pan.

9. Sustainable Wood Filler

This is an old trick used by professionals. When you cut the pieces of wood for your floor, keep the sawdust and grind it into a fine powder. Mix it with wood glue until it has a putty-like consistency. After you place the floor, you can press this mixture into any gaps and it will set rock solid and match the wood color perfectly.

You can also use the sawdust as a wood filler for doors and window frames.

10. Arts and Crafts

Arts and Crafts

Artists often mix sawdust with paint to create textured effects in their paintings. You can also combine the sawdust with white glue or paint to create fake snow for models and dioramas. Mixing it with green paint can create realistic grass.

11. Cement Alternative (For Cordwood Walls)

One of the most common recipes for the mortar to build cordwood walls is 9 parts sand, 3 parts sawdust, 3 parts builder’s lime, and 2 parts cement. The sawdust helps bind the cement with the right consistency.

12. Protect Concrete

Using a wet sawdust mix on your concrete floor protects its surface and bonds to give it a softer appearance and feel. It is also possible to substitute sand for sawdust when mixing concrete to lay driveways and patios.

13. Kitty Litter

Kitty Litter

Covering the bottom of your cat’s litter tray with sawdust will absorb moisture and help mask any odors. It is an effective alternative to cat litter and far cheaper if you are a woodworker.

14. Compost Toilets

We live in an increasingly eco-aware society, which includes trying to use fewer natural resources. This has led to compost toilets growing in popularity. Sawdust is ideal for sprinkling in the toilet to absorb moisture and odors, as well as kickstarting the composting process.

This is a cheaper alternative to coffee grounds and is just as effective.


What Is Saw Dust Worth?

Clean sawdust is worth 600 to $1,200 per truckload of material. Woodworkers often see sawdust as a nuisance, but it can be valuable.

Sawdust can be reused for other projects, such as stuffing cushions and mattresses, arts and crafts, insulation, animal bedding, and even fuel for fireplaces and stoves.

The sawdust can also be used to make particleboard or briquettes, which are useful in construction projects.

It’s important to remember that not all sawdust is created equal – different types of saws will produce different sizes of particles, and this can affect the value of the product. So while sawdust may not be worth a lot, it still has many uses in various industries.

How Long Does It Take for Sawdust to Decompose?

All sawdust can decompose for several months to years, depending on the type of wood and moisture levels. Under perfect conditions, it takes 6 months for sawdust to be good enough to turn into compost. Softwoods like pine will usually break down faster than hardwoods like oak.

If the sawdust is kept in an environment with lots of moisture and oxygen, it will decompose more quickly; however, if the environment is dry, decomposition may take much longer.

Additionally, adding natural agents such as compost or manure to the sawdust can speed up the process significantly. Ultimately, proper disposal of sawdust is important for keeping our environment clean and healthy.

Is Sawdust Good for Potatoes?

Sawdust can be beneficial for potatoes in some cases. The sawdust helps to keep the soil around the potatoes moist, which is necessary for successful potato growth. Additionally, it prevents weeds from taking over the bed and displacing resources needed by the potatoes.

Sawdust also has some nutrient value, as it breaks down over time and adds nitrogen and carbon to the soil.

That said, care should be taken to use sawdust only in small amounts and not make up a large portion of the growing media – too much sawdust can cause problems such as waterlogging or lack of oxygen for the roots.

Can You Grow Tomatoes In Sawdust?

Sawdust can be used as an alternative growth medium for tomatoes, although the plant’s growth parameters may be delayed compared to when soil is used.

It has been tested as a successful growing medium for tomatoes in places where soil may not be available or suitable due to environmental factors.

Since sawdust holds moisture better than soil and provides more aeration, it can be beneficial if used correctly.

However, sawdust needs to be supplemented with additional nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for the tomato plants to thrive. Additionally, watering frequently is important to ensure that the sawdust does not dry out and stunt the growth of the plants.

Can You Plant Grass Seed In Sawdust?

Planting grass seed in sawdust can be tricky, as the sawdust may reduce the amount of available water and nutrients for germination and growth.

Generally, it is best to avoid planting grass seed directly into sawdust. Instead, you should use a combination of high-quality soil with sand or compost to help create a conducive environment for successful germination.

Plus, any sawdust used should be well-aged to prevent any leaching of toxins from the wood particles. Following these tips can give your lawn an ideal foundation for successful growth.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.