Charcoal and Ash

Compost (Yard Trimmings) Cart Special Instructions

Do not put hot coals or ashes in your carts as they can start a fire! 

Hot ashes or coals can cause severe burns and fire damage to properties. Follow these safety measures when disposing of them:

• Use metal cans no more than 30 gallons in size with tight-fitting metal lids.

• Fill cans with hot ashes only halfway so they cool quickly and are light in weight.

• Secure metal lids on cans to prevent spread of sparks or embers.

• Check, stir, and water ash cans for several days until completely cool.

• Avoid adding hot coals on top of cool coals by using a set of cans that can be used sequentially.

• Check to be sure that ashes are completely cool before placing them in compost cart.

While cooled ash and coals from wood fires and lump charcoal can go in the compost cart, cooled ash and coals from charcoal briquettes needs to go in the landfill cart due to the chemical additives present in the briquettes.

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Hot Coals Are a Fire Hazard

Allow coals and ash to cool for 48 hours, or pour water onto them and stir carefully to speed up the process. Wait until they are no longer smoldering before attempting to dispose of them.


Throw the Bag Away

Most charcoal bags are paper lined with plastic. Recycling facilities cannot separate the two materials, so bags must be disposed of in the garbage.

Ways to Reduce


Grill With Propane Instead

Propane grills are a more eco-friendly option than charcoal grills.

Ways to Reuse


Used Charcoal Is Fertilizer

If your used charcoal is additive-free, you can use it to fertilize plants. It is alkaline and contains the nutrient potash. Avoid using it with plants that require more acidity (e.g., hydrangeas and azaleas), as well as new seedlings.

Repurpose Unused Charcoal Around the House

If your unused charcoal is additive-free, use it to neutralize odors, prevent metal from rusting, or balance nutrients in potted plants, garden beds and compost piles. For more inspiration, check out these ideas from This Old House.