What to Do with Sawdust? 10 Free Uses for Sawdust

If you’re into woodworking, sawdust will quickly build up in your workshop, sometimes much faster than you could have imagined when you started woodworking.

If you don’t know what to do with sawdust, It can be very frustrating to see your workshop getting smaller by the day because of all the bags filled with sawdust.
In this article, I’m going to share some of the best uses for sawdust with you so that you can solve your sawdust problem in a quick and inexpensive way.

Sawdust can be used to soak Up Spills, clean dirty floors, as a soil improver, Make DIY Fire Starters, compost, Dry Out Fresh Wood, mulch for weed control, smoke meat, DIY wood filler, or as an alternative for pet supplies.

For each tip about the uses of sawdust, I go into a little more detail. That way, you can determine what is the best choice for you, or the tips can inspire you to a new idea of what to do to recycle sawdust.
Thanks to this article, you will know some of the best uses for sawdust in a few moments.

However, be careful when you recycle sawdust; it is not as harmless as it seems. We all know it is harmful to the lungs, but there are even more dangerous drawbacks associated with sawdust. That’s why before we move on to the tips on what to do with sawdust, I’m going to take a closer look at that. Safety always comes first!

Disclosure: At zero cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post. I earn from qualifying purchases as an Amazon associate. Products featured are selected based on quality, performance, and reputation, regardless of affiliate relationships.

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What is sawdust?

Sawdust is another name for wood dust.
It is a by-product or waste product emitted during operations such as sawing, sanding, and milling conducted by woodworking equipment, as well as activities performed with hand tools in the woodworking business or by DIYers.
When the average diameter of sawdust is between 0 and 30 μm (micron), we refer to it as sawdust. In reality, however, when fractions are less than 2 mm, it is already referred to as sawdust.

In the industry, sawdust is collected and recycled. This sawdust will be used to make MDF boards and other products, among other things.

Sawdust is often confused with wood shavings or wood chips.

The difference between sawdust and wood shavings

Wood shavings are produced mostly during mechanical wood processing, such as planing or wood turning. The wood shavings are bigger than sawdust as a result of these activities. When the diameter of wood shavings exceeds 2 mm, we refer to them as shavings.

Because wood shavings are less dusty than sawdust, they’re frequently used as stable bedding or in the cages of tiny creatures like hamsters.

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Is sawdust safe?

Before we go over a few different methods to recycle sawdust, it’s important to consider the hazards of sawdust and your own safety.

To begin with, sawdust is hazardous to our lungs.
The dust can cause irritation, coughing, and sneezing.
As a result, I recommend that you use a decent mouth mask whenever you come into touch with sawdust.

The AstroAI Dust Mask Reusable Face Mask with Filters is the face mask that I always use in my workshop when there is a risk of drifting dust. This is a reusable mouth mask with interchangeable filters that fit snugly against the face and reduce sawdust inhalation. This mouth mask was created specifically for woodworkers to ensure maximum safety.

AstroAI Dust Mask Reusable Face Mask

Check out more details and prices of this product by clicking the link below.

Reduced lung capacity and allergic responses in the lungs, such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis (inflammation of the walls of the air sacs and tiny airways) and occupational asthma, are among the effects on the respiratory system.

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis can develop within hours or days after contact, and symptoms such as headache, chills, sweats, nausea, shortness of breath, and others are commonly mistaken for cold or flu symptoms.

Shortness of breath and chest tightness can be severe, and the condition can worsen with continued exposure. Fungi that grow on wood can induce hypersensitivity pneumonitis in certain people (and not the wood itself). Occupational asthma is also a possibility. Western Red Cedar is a kind of wood that has been linked to the development of asthma.

Depending on the sort of wood you choose, the toxic consequences will differ. The chemicals in the wood can enter the body through the skin, lungs, or digestive tract. When absorbed by the body, the chemical can cause headaches, weight loss, shortness of breath, dizziness, cramps, and an irregular heartbeat.

Dermatitis is a common skin ailment that can be brought on by wood compounds. Dermatitis can cause the skin to become red, itchy, dry, or blistered. Allergies can also cause contact dermatitis.

Wood dust also can irritate the eyes.

Keep in mind that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified wood dust as a category 1 carcinogen.

In the table below you can find the health effects that have been associated with some important wood species.

Wood TypeHealth Effects
BeechDermatitis due to lichens growing on the bark of beech trees, rhinitis, asthma, nasal cancer
Birch Irritant dermatitis
CedarAsthma, allergic contact dermatitis, sensitizer, decrease in lung function, eye irritation and conjunctivitis, rhinitis
Douglas FirContact eczema, decrease in lung capacity
Mahogany Dermatitis, sensitizer
MapleRhinitis, asthma, Maple Bark Stripper’s disease because of the mold spores in bark.
OakNasal cancer
PineSkin irritation, contact dermatitis, Wood-Pulp Worker’s disease because of the mold spores in the bark, rhinitis, asthma
PoplarContact dermatitis, sensitizer
TeakToxic, dermatitis, sensitizer
WalnutSkin irritation, rhinitis, possible asthma
What To Do With Sawdust? 10 FREE Uses For SawdustHealth Effects of Wood Dust

Sawdust is a severe fire danger in addition to the health risks. These will be substantially more sensitive to fire due to the tiny and thin fractions. Sawdust includes a lot of oxygen, which may easily feed a fire due to the enormous voids that form between the fractions. As a result, be cautious while using fire near sawdust and avoid smoking, welding, grinding, or other activities that produce fire sparks.

I hope this information has made you realize how great the dangers of sawdust can be, both in the short and long term. Always protect yourself when working in an environment where sawdust is present.

With this info, we can move on to the part this article is really about, which is the 10 ideas on what to do with sawdust and thus reduce the waste mountain of sawdust in your workshop.

What to Do With Sawdust?

When entering this article, you were wondering what to do with sawdust and did not know how the hell you could get rid of that mountain of sawdust that is in your workshop.

Now, you will find below 10 ingenious and simple ways that you can do with sawdust in just minutes.
Maybe these 10 uses for sawdust will make you think or inspire you to other ways to process sawdust, but you are guaranteed to find one that works best for you.

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Use it as mulch for weed control

If you wish to keep weeds from growing freely in your vegetable garden or between the plants, then, between the plants, use sawdust in a thin layer. The best effects can be achieved when you put a layer of about 2 inches (5 cm) to 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) thick between the plants.
That way, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on pricey wood chips.

In addition to eliminating weeds, spreading sawdust around the base of your plants will help keep the soil from drying out and will keep the roots cooler.
However, there is a disadvantage to utilizing sawdust: it adds little to no nitrogen to the soil. As a result, be sure you fertilize with nitrogen to keep your plants looking lush and green.

Use it as a soil improver

If you remember from the previous tip that sawdust requires nitrogen, you’ll see that the contrary is also true.

If the nitrogen content in certain sections of the garden is too high, you can start working sawdust directly into the soil.
Nitrogen encourages leaf growth while limiting fruiting. As a result, if you wish to achieve the polar opposite, sawdust can help.

Sawdust can help with nitrogen problems as well as heavy soils such as clay. When you use sawdust, it will help to improve the soil structure, making it easier for water to drain and plants to grow.

Sawdust may also be used to produce mushrooms. For example, shiitake mushrooms flourish on a sawdust-based substrate that accounts for 90 to 95 percent of the overall weight.

Soak Up Spills with Sawdust

Wood has a high absorbent capacity, but when the wood is decreased in particle size and becomes sawdust, the absorbing capacity skyrockets. Sawdust has the consistency of a sponge.

Liquid goods, such as linseed oil, paint, or chemicals, are frequently used in woodworking. If one of them is spilled, clean it up as quickly as possible to avoid stains. Do you want to do it quickly and safely? Simply sprinkle some sawdust on it and let the liquid substance seep into the wood. Then you can just scoop it up and properly dispose of it.

Clean dirty floors

We already saw how dried sawdust may be used to wipe up spills, but sawdust can also be used to clean in other ways.
It might be tough to clean your floor when it has grown soiled over time.
You may produce a wet scrub by mixing sawdust with some water. Wet sawdust will abrade and absorb dirt from the floor.
Try it out in your workshop! The end result will amaze you.

Make DIY Fire Starters with sawdust

This is my favorite idea on this list of ideas for what to do with sawdust because it’s one of the few ways I can get rid of my sawdust. And on top of that, it makes my house nice and warm.

To make a fire, you need fine and dry material. Sawdust is therefore ideal for this.

For this, I take a paper bag that I fill with sawdust.
I place this bag in the center of the fireplace, surrounded by newspapers. Above that, I place my fine wood. The newspaper ensures that there are enough flames to pull the sawdust apart and create some sort of draft. The oxygen that gets between the sawdust feeds the flame, and I can always be sure of a well-burning fireplace within minutes.

Dry Out Fresh Wood with Sawdust

Sawdust is absorbent, as we saw in the tip, “Soak Up Spills with Sawdust.” That means sawdust can be a good drying agent for freshly milled boards because of its absorbency and the fact that it is extremely dry.

Place a plank on a layer of fine, dry sawdust to help it dry faster before using it on a project.
Finish by sprinkling sawdust over the top. The sawdust will absorb all of the moisture from the board since it functions like a sponge.
Another benefit is that the moisture is absorbed by the sawdust rather than being discharged into the air in your workspace.
Check regularly to see if the sawdust has become too wet, and refill it as needed to get the most moisture out of the wood.

Recommended: 4 Correct Ways To Dry Lumber (Fast) | Complete Wood Drying Guide

Use sawdust in compost

Sawdust from natural, untreated wood is perfect for composting.
Compost should not be made only from sawdust. Not only will the composting process be slowed, but there will be no nitrogen in the compost, rendering it practically useless.
Sawdust should always be used in conjunction with other materials like plants and leaves.
Every now and then, add a layer of sawdust to the compost and stir it in. The sawdust will have totally decomposed after around 6 months.
Adding sawdust to compost also aids in the preservation of moisture in the compost.

Use wood chips to smoke meat

Although this is a suggestion that only a few people will be able to utilize, I believe it is essential for those readers who have already done so or who plan to do so in the future.

On a lesser scale, though, sawdust may be used on the grill to give your meat a particular flavor.

To give your meal a great smokey flavor, place some wood chips over the embers of your grill.
Pay attention to the sort of wood you use for this, though. Some of them are poisonous. As a result, never use sawdust made from walnut or teak.
Non-resinous woods, such as oak or beech, are suitable for this.

Make your own wood filler with sawdust

Making your own wood filler might be a viable option in the proper conditions. However, if you are a frequent reader of my website, you may have previously read my article, “5 Problems with DIY Woodfiller” and discovered that DIY woodfiller has certain disadvantages.
If you want to make your own woodfiller, start by combining sawdust and wood glue to form a paste. But, before you get started, I strongly advise you to read my post on the potential side effects of DIY wood filler and then determine whether homemade wood filler is the best option for the project you’re working on.

recycle sawdust for your pets

The last tip on what to do with sawdust is to recycle sawdust and use it as a pet supply alternative.

If you have animals, you may begin to use sawdust in a variety of ways.
Because sawdust absorbs moisture and odors, it may be used as a cheaper alternative to pricey cat litter.

Another way to use sawdust for your pets is as a bedding material. Guinea pigs, for example, will love having new hardwood chips laid on the bottom of their cage on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that some animals, like people, might have adverse reactions to various types of wood. Horses, rabbits, cats, and a variety of other animals are reported to be allergic to walnut wood chips. Related article: is walnut wood toxic, Important health info?

Before you use sawdust or shavings for animals, make sure you do your homework.

What to do with sawdust – conclusion

It seems that sawdust can cause a problem when it starts to build up in your workshop, and you don’t know what to do with sawdust.

However, as you can see in these 10 uses for sawdust, this shouldn’t be an issue. Surely there are one or more ideas in this list that can help you solve this problem.
Always keep in mind that you protect yourself when you recycle sawdust.
If you want to know how to control dust in your workshop, click now on my article, “How To Deal With Dust In A Woodworking Workshop | 5 Effective Ways”.

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I hope this information on what to do with sawdust and the 10 FREE Uses For Sawdust ideas in this article were helpful.

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Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration

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