How to Dispose and Recycle Charcoal

How to Dispose and Recycle Charcoal
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Believe it or not, there are alls sorts of uses for your charcoal ash. Make sure you’re working with wood-based, additive-free charcoal for starters. But if you just need to dispose of it, we can help with that too.

Used Charcoal

Extinguish It
Close the lid and vents to your charcoal grill for 48 hours until ash has completely cooled.

Wrap it in Foil
For charcoal briquettes that have additives or that are not wood, throw it out. You can wrap the ash in aluminum foil and throw the packet in a non-combustible garbage bin for garbage pickup.

As long as you use an additive-free, wood charcoal, you can use it as fertilizer. The ash contains potash (potassium carbonate), which is nutritious for many plants. Potash can also increase the pH levels in your soil, but depending on what you’re growing, you want to use it sparingly. Don’t use charcoal ash with acid-loving plants (like blueberries, azaleas and hydrangeas), nor newly planted seedlings and seeds.

Deter Pests
Some grillers claim you can spray an ash/lime/water mix around your vegetable garden to deter beetles. Mix about one ounce of ash and one ounce of hydrated lime to a gallon of water and spray around your plants and the perimeter of your garden. Wood charcoal ash can also help deter lice and mites around chicken coops and other outdoor bird cages.

Clean and Control
The ash from wood charcoal can be used to make lye soap, de-skunk your pet and shine silver. You can even use wood charcoal ash in your pond to help control algae. Just add about one tablespoon per 1,000 gallons to strengthen other plants and slow algae growth.

Unused Charcoal

Reduce Odors
Place a few pieces of unused charcoal in a perforated bag and place the bag in the refrigerator or freezer to take out the stink. Likewise you can place charcoal in your shoes to reduce odor. Put it in a cloth or sock to keep it from staining.

Compost It
You can put a few pieces in the compost pile to increase the carbon content. Carbon is important to provide energy to microorganisms while they break down the organic matter in compost.

Make Flowers Last
Place one piece of charcoal in a flower vase to make cut flowers last a little longer.

Reduce Rust
Charcoal will absorb moisture, so it can be used in your toolbox to reduce rust on your tools.

Garden with It
Crushed charcoal can help suppress weeds in your garden. If you raise orchids, you can add crushed charcoal to the soil. Many flower enthusiasts believe that charcoal will absorb toxins and increase the alkalinity of the soil.

Tip: Never put live ash next to anything that could catch on fire like trees or your home.

4 thoughts on “How to Dispose and Recycle Charcoal

  1. please do some research on which brands of charcoal are truly wood based with no additives. I currently use mostly Kingsford on my charcoal grill and exclusively use cowboy type charcoal (non briquet) on my smoker.

    1. Hi Terry, we do not advise tossing charcoal ash into a water source. Instead, try one of the following tips for disposing of used charcoal.

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