What Can I Do With BBQ Ash?

Have you been left with a large amount of BBQ ash after a recent gathering? If so, you need to know how to correctly dispose of it. Alternatively, you could also recycle or repurpose the ash for a variety of things.

BBQ ash can be repurposed as a fertiliser or weed suppressant, by simply adding it to soil. This adds potassium carbonate, which is a helpful nutrient to many plants. Ash can stop weeds growing by increasing the pH level of the soil. In both instances, your plants will benefit greatly.

However, the list doesn't stop there. BBQ ash can be repurposed in many other ways. We cover them in this article while also explaining how to dispose of ash correctly and responsibly.

What Can I Do With BBQ Ash?

How To Dispose Of BBQ Ash Correctly

For those who wish to dispose of BBQ ash, you must do so in a safe way. It almost goes without saying, but ash can be a fire hazard. To correctly dispose of the used coals, there are only really three steps you need to follow.

1. Cool The Ash Down

This can be done by either extinguishing the coals themself, or by leaving them to cool down over time. If the ash is still warm, you can mix it with water. To speed up the process of cooling down the ash naturally, you can close the vents on your BBQ after cooking. This will remove the oxygen from the base, starving the fire and putting the coals out.

2. Collect The Ash

Gathering the ash can be made easy if your BBQ has a built-in ash tray. You can simply remove this tray and tip the contents into a non-combustible container, or into some tin foil. If you don’t have an ash tray on your BBQ, you can remove the grate and scrape the ash below. Try to avoid putting this off for too long, if possible. Ash left in a BBQ can quickly harden and become tougher to remove, especially if your grill is exposed to the elements.

3. Dispose Of The Ash

Now that you have collected all the ash, it’s time to decide what to do with it. Of course, you can always dispose of it by placing the ash in your outside bin. If you do opt for this method, make sure you allow at least 48 hours to pass from the time you lit the coals. You should also consider wrapping it in foil to be extra safe. The second option you have is to reuse the ashes, which is covered in more detail below.

You should also clean your BBQ after removing the ash from the base. A warm, soapy water should do the trick in most cases. After the soapy water has been applied, give the BBQ a quick wash with water. This process can be repeated for the grills, if they are removable. Obviously, everything should be left to dry before cooking again. Having a cleaning BBQ has a variety of benefits, such as better tasting food and a longer lasting grill.

Other Uses For BBQ Ash

Before jumping into the different uses of BBQ ash, we have to mention that you should avoid repurposing briquettes with additives. Some of the additives present in treated charcoal can be toxic, making them dangerous to reuse. Typically, treated coals are advertised as ‘Instant Light’ or something similar. This type of charcoal should be disposed of and placed in your non-recyclable waste bin.

Ash from standard wood charcoal however, has a multitude of different uses. Regardless of whether these methods save you money or simply brighten up your garden, they can go a long way in terms of helping the environment. With that being said, let’s take a look at how to recycle and repurpose your old BBQ ash!

Fertiliser

Ash from wood charcoal can make a great fertiliser. Your plants will benefit from larger amounts of potassium carbonate in the soil. This is a helpful nutrient that can aid with growth. Scattering the ash around your plants is the easiest way to achieve these results. Alternatively, it can be dug into soil and then covered.

Weed Suppressant

While providing potassium carbonate and other trace nutrients, the ash can also increase the pH of the social. This should be done within reason, as some plants may like a more acidic soil. However, this increased pH can deter weeds and suppress them from growing.

Keep in mind that flowers such as magnolia, azaleas and rhododendrons require a lower pH, so you should avoid adding ash in these cases. You can find the optimal pH level for most plants with a quick Google search. This number should often be in the 5.5 to 7.0 range, with some exceptions. If you want to closely monitor the pH level of your soil, purchasing a meter could be a worthwhile investment.

Deter Pests

Like with some humans, ash can be off-putting to mice and other rodents. The same applies to various insects, such as cockroaches. Ash from the BBQ can be placed directly over their homes, which will cause them to relocate completely. This can be done to protect your home or garden from unwanted visitors.

In addition, you can mix BBQ ash with water for a homemade bug and pest deterrent spray. To do this, you will need 30g of ash and 30g of calcium hydroxide. Mix these two substances together before adding them to roughly 4 litres of water. This mixture can then be evenly sprayed around your flowers to help with deterring pests.

What Can I Do With BBQ Ash?

Other Ways To Use BBQ Coals

If you bought too much charcoal and still have some unused briquettes in a bag, these can be used for other things as well. Again, these methods should only be considered if the coals are free from additives.

Eliminate Odours

Say goodbye to nasty odours coming from your fridge. Take 2 or 3 lumps of untreated charcoal and place them into a plastic, resealable bag. You can then place this bag in an area that smells particularly unpleasant. As charcoal is highly porous and has a large surface area, it can absorb a variety of matter, including unwanted smells.

Compost

When you add unused coals to your compost, the level of carbon in the soil will increase. This carbon will help to break down matter, speeding up the composting process. In many cases, just a couple briquettes are all you need per compost bin.


Besides helping to create compost faster, wood briquettes can add nutrients which are then transferred into the soil. This will also help with supressing weeds, giving you a similar result to using BBQ ash directly. Crushing the coals before sprinkling them into your composter is the simplest and most effective way of adding unused briquettes. Try to avoid using large lumps of coal, as this can actually restrict and hinder the growth of plants.

Preserve The Life Of Cut Flowers

Now this might sound peculiar, but you can actually place a lump of charcoal in the bottom of a vase to preserve cut flowers. A small, singular briquette in the water beneath the flowers is a lesser-known method of making flowers last longer. This works due to the charcoal filtering out impurities in the water, which can often become stale after a few days.

Conclusion

That wraps up this post on what you can do with your leftover BBQ ash. There are plenty of different methods for repurposing, or recycling the ash itself. Some of these methods will save you money in the long run, while also helping the environment. However, if you can’t find a beneficial way to repurpose ash, make sure that you dispose of it safely.