Recently we found ourselves with a long list of projects that required ample amounts of sawdust. Now, being the penny-pincher I am, I pondered a way to get sawdust for free. Besides, I wouldn’t even know where to buy it! (Hardware store, maybe?)
We were on our land in Missouri doing some prep work for our off-the-grid home and cleared a large temporary pathway. The rain would undoubtedly turn this into a “mudway”, so we decided to cover the area completely. Looking for the most affordable (and biodegradable) choice we decided on sawdust or wood chips. It would be much less expensive than gravel, and we could safely abandon it to nature after it’s purpose was served. We also needed some sawdust on hand for our composting toilet. That’s when I vaguely remembered seeing a random YouTube video where a lady called up the local sawmill and got sawdust for free!
A local sawmill plastered their phone number on a nearby billboard. One awkward phone conversation later and we had our sawdust! For FREE!! After meeting them in person they were kind enough to open their doors, offering us as much sawdust as we required at any time, “Just swing on by.”
Not having a truck, we decided to transport everything in large plastic garbage bins. Except for one bad spill in the car, it worked out pretty well! Later that week it rained several times but did not infiltrate the garbage bins.
That’s my tip on how to get free sawdust! Embrace the awkwardness; Call up your local sawmill and ask what they do with their sawdust.
Homesteading Sawdust Uses
Now that you know how to get free sawdust, it’s time to capitalize on it’s many uses!
Composting toilets – Composting toilets use a “cover material” to cover up your peeps and poops rather than flushing your waste (ultimately wasting 1.5 to 4 gallons per flush) down the toilet. Common cover material consists of peat moss, sawdust, and even rice husks. Assuming you’re fresh out of rice husks and don’t want to purchase peat moss, I recommend free sawdust.
Compost piles – Compost piles break down organic matter to turn it into rich fertilizer for plants. Compost piles need a variety of conditions in order to properly decompose, but the basics are: water, “browns” and “greens”. Greens can be food waste (coffee grounds, half a sandwich…anything), garden waste, grass clippings, hay, and manures (i.e. from your compost toilet). Browns can be bark, shredded cardboard, leaves, newspaper, peat moss, and sawdust.
Pathways – Building a pathway can be incredibly expensive, depending on the material you use. If you’re on a tight budget, I recommend sawdust. It keeps the ground from getting muddy and looks both beautiful and natural.
Kindling – Sawdust makes for a great kindling component to start fires from scratch.
Kitty litter alternative – Are you tired of throwing out your hard earned money along with your cat’s waste? Stop buying kitty litter! Cats can use sawdust in their boxes to do their business. You can also use sawdust in cages for most pets like rabbits, hamsters, etc.
Clean up oil or spills – Throw down some sawdust over an oil or other spill for easy clean up. The sawdust will absorb the liquid, allowing you to sweep up the sawdust pile, spill and all.
Mulch – Sawdust makes a great mulch in large quantities. If you live in a windy area, it may be difficult to keep it from flying away from your grow beds.
Do you have a helpful homesteading sawdust use? Share it with our homesteading community in the comments below or on Facebook!