What to Do With Charcoal Ash (3 Reuse Methods)

Are you a grill master who’s wondering what to do with all that leftover charcoal ash? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll go over some practical and creative ways to put that ash to good use, without making a mess or burning down the house (hopefully). So grab your apron and let’s get started!

What to Do With Charcoal Ash

Grilling some burgers over charcoal at the park (or at home) is one of our favorite ways to pass the summer. But once you have finished your grill session, what should you do with the ash?

After you finish grilling, you need to extinguish charcoal properly before you move it anywhere. Once it is extinguished, it can be thrown in the trash bin, added to your compost, or put in your garden, depending on the type of charcoal you are using. 

Wondering what you need to do to be able to dispose of charcoal in your garden? Let’s look at some of the ways you can dispose of ash and what you need to do to ensure it is safe to add charcoal ash to your garden. 

How to Dispose of Charcoal Ash (3 Methods)

Method 1: Garbage Can

Disposing of charcoal ash in the garbage can is easy and always best if you are using charcoal briquettes which contain chemicals that can’t be put in the compost. 

For this method, all you need to do is extinguish the charcoal by closing the lid on your grill and all the vents. We recommend letting it sit a bit longer, 24-48 hours, to ensure the flame is completely gone. 

Then, scoop the ash out into some old tinfoil (leftover from your dinner the night before is fine) and place it in a garbage bin and close the lid. Always place the ash in an outdoor garbage bin. 

To speed up the cool-down process, you can also douse the charcoals with water, but only after you have first closed the lid and vents to put out the charcoals naturally. If you pour water on hot charcoal right after cooking, they can produce steam that can burn your face or hands as you pour the water on. 

Method 2: Add it to the Garden

Charcoal ash is actually great for your garden because it contains something called potassium carbonate, which can help fertilize plants. Just don’t overdo it, and avoid putting ash on blueberries, azaleas, and other plants which require the soil to be a certain pH level.

For this method of ash disposal, you need to ensure you are using charcoal which contains no chemicals or additives, as these can kill your plants. Grab lump charcoal or briquettes, which are 100% natural.

Related >> Best Lump Charcoal for Smoking

When you are done cooking, extinguish your coals by closing the lid of your grill and all the vents. Then wait 24-48 hours to allow the ash to cool completely.

After this time has passed, using a dedicated broom and dustpan, sweep the ash from your grill and sprinkle it over the soil in your garden. 

If you don’t have a garden, but you do make compost, charcoal ash can be added to your compost bin after it has been cooled as well. 

Method 3: Use it as a Pest Deterrent

Do you have a pest problem in your yard? Charcoal ash can actually help! 

To use this method, cool the ash by closing the lid and vents and waiting 24-48 hours. After this time has passed, sweep your charcoal ash into a dedicated bucket. 

When you are ready, mix one ounce of ash with some lime juice and a gallon of water. Put this mixture in a spray bottle, or pour it around the edges of your deck and porch. This mixture deters pests such as beetles, mites, and lice. 

The cool thing about this mixture is it is safe for plants, so you can spray it in your garden as well! 

What Else Can You Do with Charcoal Ash?

While the aforementioned methods are the most common ways to dispose of charcoal ash, there are also other things you can do with the ash. Some people like to use it to make lye soap, or for those with a pond, it can be useful for deterring algae growth.

What Can You Do With Unused Charcoal?

Do you have some charcoal leftover that you don’t know what to do with? You can actually use it for several purposes around your home! Below are all of our suggestions for using your unused charcoal.

  • Place a lump or two in your fridge to reduce odors.
  • Place old charcoal briquettes in shoes to reduce their odor.
  • Break up old charcoal and add it to your compost bin.
  • Place a chunk of charcoal at the base of a vase of flowers to keep them alive longer.
  • Place charcoal in your toolbox to absorb moisture and reduce rust.
  • Place charcoal rocks in your garden to keep weeds from growing.
  • Use it as decoration in a flower pot or box.

As you can see, there is no reason to trash unused charcoal! There are so many things you can do with it. No matter what you decide to do with your charcoal, just make sure you never place it next to anything flammable, as this could be disastrous.

If you ever wonder if you should place charcoal in a specific area, it’s probably better to be cautious and not place it there.

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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