Tips for Repurposing Used Charcoal Briquettes and Ash
There are plenty of Americans that have not succumbed to the convenience of outdoor cooking using a gas grill. Those who swear by lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes enjoy their own way of cooking that tasty piece of meat along with grilled vegetables. However, what happens to the spent charcoal and ash after the meal is complete? Most people throw it away. Nevertheless, you do not necessarily have to do that. It can be repurposed in other ways.
One of our tasks as a concierge service is to help our clients be more efficient in the things they do. Efficiency sometimes lies in repurposing things in order to save time and money. We can illustrate this very easily with the charcoal briquette example. Here are some tips for reusing the spent charcoal after your next cookout:
Tip #1 – Save the Lumps
It is relatively common for a charcoal fire to burn out while leaving some lumps still intact. Did you know that you could save those lumps and reuse them later? Use a spare set of barbecue tongs to pull the lumps out, add them to your bag of fresh charcoal, and reuse them next time you decide to cook. After all, most charcoal is nothing more than charred wood chips. The stuff fresh out of the bag has already been burned once; by putting used lumps back in the bag you are simply choosing to burn it again. As a side note, used lumps tend to burn very easily. If you use them as the base for your next fire, you might be able to get away without any lighter fluid.
Tip #2 – Add to the Compost Heap
As long as your charcoal is wood-based, ashes and partial lumps can be added to a compost heap to bring down the acidity. You can also spread the ashes in your home garden to accomplish the same thing. Nonetheless, do so lightly. If you use too much ash, the alkalinity of your soil could get to high.
Tip #3 – Homemade Cleanser
Some people swear by spent charcoal as an excellent cleanser that can take the place of chlorine-based powders. Of course, any remaining lumps will have to be ground up and mixed with the ash, but that can be easily accomplished with a hammer. Wood apparently works wonders on stainless steel and silver, as well as your outdoor cooking utensils and the grill rack itself.
Tip #4 – Winter Deicer
Believe it or not, the ashes and charcoal lumps left over in your grill make a great deicer during the winter. Again, you will have to grind up the charcoal lumps and mix them with the ash. Spread the mixture on your steps and walkway ahead of an upcoming storm to prevent ice buildup. If ice and snow have already accumulated, just sprinkle the mixture on top and see what happens. The beauty of this deicing solution is that it is all-natural and completely harmless to the grass and other vegetation. It will just wash away come spring – no harm done.
Tip #5 – Make Soap
If you are really adventurous, then you can use your spent charcoal to make soap. Soaking ashes in water creates lye, which can then be mixed with animal fat to produce soap. As with most of the other suggestions here, this is mainly based on your charcoal being 100% wood. If it contains anything else, you might not want to make soap that you will be using on your body.
There are literally dozens of additional ways charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal, and ash can be repurposed after a cookout. We encourage you to do a little research on your own. With some knowledge and creativity, you can get more use out of your charcoal with each and every cook.