Garden Gal
Cool Member
Posts: 84
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 11:56 am
Location: Silverspring, Maryland Zone7A

Did I mess up my compost by adding leftover charcoal/ashes?

The other day I put burned ashes and lumps of regular charcoal bricketts used for everyday grilling into my compost bin. As I watched it fall in slow motion, I thought, "i should have ASKED ABOUT THIS before dumping it in!!) I didn't mix it in yet. It's still on top. Will it hurt? It was small amount. What was left in a very small portable grill. If it was a big "no no" what can I do to save the compost? :shock:
Gardening is God's great big or teeny weenie therapy couch!

Margo Hope
The Garden Gal

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

A small amount probably won't do damage.

Briquettes can be smashed with a shovel, and carbon is good for the soil. But I pick them out and reuse them as fuel.

Keep in mind, though, that ashes have a very high pH and can goof up the composting and garden growing process. It's a good idea to add them only sparingly. A quart in a cubic yard of compost ingredients, for example.

Also, there are binders in briquettes, such as borax, which can, over time, build up in your soil if you use a lot. Small amounts such as what you put in shouldn't be a problem though. It's all a matter of degree.
Tox

Garden Gal
Cool Member
Posts: 84
Joined: Sat May 29, 2010 11:56 am
Location: Silverspring, Maryland Zone7A

Thank you so much. I feel better! I won't add anymore though, lol. I got my first usable compost this year for the first time ever! I started my pile last spring, and had just enough to add a layer into my lasagna garden. I was so happy! The pile with the ashes is the "new" pile that didn't break down over last season, so now it's the bottom and I'm adding on top. So the charcoal will actually get mixed in pretty well by next year. I just wanted to be sure I didn't need to dig it out and toss it before continuing to add to my pile. So thanks again everyone! :D
Gardening is God's great big or teeny weenie therapy couch!

Margo Hope
The Garden Gal

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Garden gal, a possible winter reading might be after a search about "Terra Preta".

I'm not sure how good charcoal lighter fluid is for a garden, but if you use a collumn starter (which doesn't use lighter fluid), I can't imagine why occasional small additions of charcoal would be a bad thing.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

There will not be enough lighter fluid left to give a fruit fly a headache, IMHO. After all, it's there to burn off. Even if there was some left, those hydrocarbons are not especially toxic and would degrade away quite nicely in the compost. In fact, they use composting processes to biodegrade petroleum contaminated soil. It's all good. The pH would be my biggest worry.
Tox

Return to “Composting Forum”