As we are all aware winter can be mighty rough in Vermont. Many people buy chemical pellets to melt the ice and snow, I use wood ash. It may track in the house a bit, but that's not a bad thing. It adds potassium to the soil where its been sprinkled so it actually good for the earth - just not too much.
In ancient times ash was used to scrub cooking pots and of course when put in a barrel with water added slowly it makes lye needed for making soap.
The attached photo shows some ashes, but next to it two buckets of biochar waiting to be crushed and added to the soil for carbon sequestration.