Soot especially from burnt wood can be used in the garden. The soot contains a number of minerals and compound that are essential to plant life. It is however necessary to mix the soot with compost to reduce its alkalinity. This is because when young plant shoots come directly into contact with plain soot they shrivel or get scorched. Soot is also good for gardens as it keeps slugs at bay. Slugs are known to destroy growing plants but they can be stopped by applying soot around the boundary of the garden. In ancient times, soot was used in home based paper making to break down cellulose fibers. Soot has also been used in the production of ink which was used traditionally with quill pens and in calligraphy in ancient China.