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How to Recycle and Dispose of Grilling Charcoal

What to Do With Used or Leftover Charcoal

Your Summer grilling soiree was a hit, and all that's left to do is pack away leftovers and dump out your grill full of charcoal ash and spent hickory chips. But before you upend that Weber, take care to dispose of the mess safely (ash can still be hot!) and properly.

To dispose of charcoal and wood ash: Let the ash cool for 48 hours. You can speed up this process by pouring water over the hot charcoal and stirring it very carefully. When the ash has cooled completely, wrap it in aluminum foil and place it in an noncombustible outdoor trash bin.

If you used additive-free lump charcoal: Fertilize your plants! Charcoal ash contains potash, an important nutrient for some plants. It's also a great way to increase the pH of the soil.

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When you have a bag of used charcoal (and not briquettes with additives) sitting around your garage, there are a number of ways to use it up, even if grilling isn't on this Summer's agenda.

  • Keep a few pieces in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator to kill odors.
  • Feed your compost pile to increase the carbon content.
  • Place a lump at the bottom of a flower vase to make cut flowers last longer.
  • Suppress garden weeds and maintain soil moisture by using charcoal as a mulch.
  • Mix crushed charcoal with orchid potting medium to increase the alkalinity.
  • And, of course, keep them around for Winter snowman faces!
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