Ash from coal and wood disposal

What is ash made of?

Depending on whether you burn coal or wood, ash tends to be made up of a mixture of chemical components. However, the main element of ash is usually carbon, with some amounts of magnesium, calcium, phosphorous and potassium.

ash waste disposal

What type of waste is ash?

While coal ash is not a hazardous waste, the burning of wood, on the other hand, can create ash that may be hazardous.

How is ash made?

Coal ash is a term used to explain the waste leftover at power plants and is made up of lead, arsenic, mercury and chromium – substances that are often dangerous to human health. Wood ash is a powder that remains after burning wood at a bonfire, fireplace or industrial plant and is made up of calcium and other non-combustible elements.

Facts about ash

• Wood ash tends to contain trace amounts of small nutrients like copper, zinc and iron.

• Ash itself is highly alkaline and can increase the PH levels in your garden soil.

• Even if you use wood ash as a fertiliser, the lack of nitrogen means you’d still need to find another source.

• According to the EPA, approximately 140 million tons of coal ash is generated every year.

Where can you dispose of ash from coal and wood?

You can dispose of ash by putting it into your waste bin. Alternatively, you can take the ash to a recycling centre that accepts garden waste.

Free eco-friendly alternatives to ash made from coal and wood disposal methods

While most people just throw ash away, you can use the following eco-friendly methods to dispose of both coal and wood ash.


Ash contains nutrients that are great for plant life. For this reason, you can mix wood ash right into your compost heap. It’s worth noting that this applies to wood ash only and not coal ash. Coal ash isn’t great for soil because it is made up of carcinogens.


Ash can be used to clean the grease from all your pans while you’re out camping. You can choose to rub the ashes directly on your pans or you can soak them in a mixture of water and ash for a couple of hours before rinsing.

Snails and slugs

Ash is a great way to deter garden pests like snails and slugs. All you need to do is build a little wall of ash around your plants to keep pests from destroying your vegetable patch or flowers.

Icy paths

Sprinkling wood ash on pathways during winter makes it easier to walk across icy ground.

What are the problems with ash waste?

In the short term, your exposure to coal ash can cause nausea, irritation of the throat and shortness of breath. In the long-term, it can cause kidney damage, liver damage and a range of cancers.

The wastewater from coal ash ponds and landfills seeps into rivers, groundwater and streams. It is packed with toxic pollutants like chromium (a carcinogen), arsenic (a cancer-causing element) and selenium (a chemical that can cause impaired vision and paralysis).

What can ash be made into?

Ashes from burned wood can be used to create soaps as they contain sufficient amounts of potassium to make lye – a vital element of soap.

Coal ash can be reused in several ways. For example, it can be used as a top layer for unpaved roads, as structural fill or as an ingredient in concrete.

The heat that is released from burning can also be used to convert water into steam. This can then be used to generate a turbine and produce electricity.

Contact our expert and friendly team for all your ash waste disposal needs today.

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