That's ONE item on the list that should not be added to a compost bin
due to the oils and additives in store-bought charcoal briquettes.
I've added ashes from the fireplace to the compost bin, although not
more than few handfuls.
Yeah you have to be careful of them oils and additives that won't
You ate food cooked over these coals right?
Add em to your compost, don't go overboard .
Be aware ashes have a liming effect and would be better used added
directly under the lilacs or worked into the soil.
Better yet, switch away from briquettes infused with petroleum products
to chunk charcoal, and start them without lighter fluid by using a
couple sheets of newspapers and a chimney starter like this one:
In the long run you'll find that switching to this method:
1. Is less expensive,
2. Produces fewer harmful byproducts,
3. Helps conserve our petroleum products,
4. Exposes the food cooked over them to fewer known carcinogens,
5. Gives you better tasting food, without a petroleum aftertaste.
The only downside is that you probably won't find chunk charcoal at the
7-11 on the corner, so you'll need to plan at least a couple hours ahead
if you need to replenish your stock.
Problem with briquettes are:
1) Bonding agents
2) Extender agents.
3) The toxic byproduct Benzoapyrene.
1) The bonding resins are easily incorporated into cell structure of
growing veggies. There are natural charcoals that would be safer to use
their ashes in composts, but briquettes that are nicely shaped are not the
organic product. Not all bonding agents are toxic, but some are; there is
no way to tell the difference since no law requires ingredients to be
revealed. Bonding agents include either artificial or vegetable startches,
black tar, lime, asphalt, cane molasses, pitch, creosote, coal
distillants, mixed with plastic-like chemical additives to increase the
moisture resistance of a product that would otherwise suck up moisture
from the atmosphere & not burn well.
If vegetable starches were the usual binder there'd be little likelihood
of a problem, but that is as much as ten times more expensive than
crappier binders, so are the least likely to be used. The product is
rarely standardized, & if or asphalt is the cheapest one month & creosote
the next, they'll just keep changing the ingredient. On average 10 to 15%
of a briquette is the binder, & another percentage the extender, & so all
"positive" reports of how clean (pure) charcoal burns simply does not
apply to briquettes, though the briquette companies like to provide
information only about pure charcoal & fail to mention there product isn't
In theory "Premium" charcoals are fully organic (using vegetable starches
as binders) but since this aspect of the industry is 100% unregulated,
there's no real guarantee of the content of charcoal that may well be
randomly labeled "premium" rather than actually superior.
For the above reasons predominantly, we have the often-repeated composting
advice that concluded a University of Illinois Agricultural Department
study is that ashes from charcoal grills be discarded in landfills or
driveways. Lesser problems:
2) Extenders or fillers are usually clay, but can be other silica sources,
or rarely calcium cabonate. Clay filler result in ashes that are obviously
too heavy to be pure charcoal ashes. The precise heavy-metal content of
the extenders is unregulated hence unpredictable as to degree of potential
3) Benzoapyrene is one of the most persisting human-generated toxins in
the environment, causing genetic defect & cancer. It is a byproduct in the
residues & exhausts of gasoline combustion, cigarette ash, tar, & smoke,
prestolog ash & smoke, & charcoal briquette ash. Alas benzoapyrene is so
ubiquitous in the environment that briquette contribution is like spit in
the ocean, so the greater worry is the residues of the tarry resins used
as bonding agents in briquettes.
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
email@example.com (Beecrofter) wrote in
I've also read that charcoal shouldn't be added to the compost bin, not
because of additives, but because of sulfur compounds (having the opposite
of a liming effect) which would make the acidity too high for beneficial
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