Can Ash Be Composted?

Can Ash Be Composted?

Can Log Burner Residue and Wood Ash be Composted?

With snow blizzards arriving as late as March, it’s not surprising that the number of UK households creating ‘hugge’ inspired cosy homes complete with a log burner is on the rise. With the amount of ash being produced at home increasing, the burning question is how can log burner owners dispose of it?

Can Wood Ash be Composted?

Yes, pure wood ash can be composted in the HOTBIN in small quantities, as long as you have used a 100% natural ingredient-based fire lighter. Many fire lighters sold today are made from sustainable wood and natural waxes and so are 100% natural; these can be safely added as part of the ash into the HOTBIN. Others however unfortunately still contain some ingredients which are not 100% natural such as Kerosene. If your fire lighters list any other non-biodegradable ingredients on the back of the packet, we would advise against adding the resulting wood ash into the HOTBIN to prevent the composting material from becoming contaminated.

Why Can I Only add Wood Ash in Small Quantities?

Wood ash tends to be powder-like in both size and structure; so when its added into the HOTBIN in large quantities, it tends to clump, causing airflow to become restricted and for the unit to turn anaerobic – something which all HOTBIN users are keen to avoid! If you want to successfully compost wood ash at home, here are our helpful hints for how best to do it: 1. Add the wood ash into the HOTBIN gradually –add no more than 1 trowel’s worth at a time 2. Add a variety of fresh waste into the HOTBIN along with the ash and ensure that it is really well mixed in 3. Add the recommended quantity of bulking agent and shredded paper in with the fresh waste and ash and mixed it in well. The bulking agent will keep the contents aerated and ensure that the HOTBIN stays working aerobically whilst the shredded paper will help to prevent the wood ash from getting too wet and clumping.

What if I Don't Want to Compost the Ash?

We appreciate that not everyone will want to compost the ash from their log burners. If you choose not to, here are a couple of ideas for what you can do with the ash:

  • Deter slugs & snails – sprinkle a small amount of wood ash evenly around the base of individual plants or around the edge of a whole border. Try to avoid direct contact with the plants though. NB. You will need to reapply this after each rainfall for best effect.
  • Feed your lawn – to help promote a greener and healthier lawn, gently dust your lawn with wood ash and give it a light water to bed it in.
  • Remove algae from your pond – a small amount of wood ash in the pond can help to slow down the growth of algae, allowing you to rake it out and get rid of it.
  • Homemade gifts – for the more adventurous log burner owners, why not try making your own soap and lye with some wood ash like the ancient Babylonians did. Adding wood ash-based lye water into the washing machine has been found to work as an excellent clothes brightener.
  • Dispose of it in your council collected waste bin.

Can BBQ Ash Be Composted?

DO NOT add hot ash to the HOTBIN, or any other compost bin - it will damage the plastic and void the guarantee. It can ignite a fire if your heap is very dry.

Can I add Cold BBQ Ash to my Compost?

Yes, but too much ash will turn the compost waste strongly alkaline and this will slow down the composting process. Ash (and especially BBQ ash if lots of fat has dripped in towards the end of the BBQ) can also form an impervious layer if not mixed in or too much is added in one go.

How Beneficial is BBQ Ash to the Heap Versus Directly Adding it to the Soil?

BBQ ash won't 'breakdown' (ie compost), but it will be incorporated into your compost. BBQ-ash is a mixture of minerals including potash (ie potassium oxide), the source of the second item in NKP fertiliser list. Potash (like any fertiliser) has to be used sparingly. Spread 'thickly' around stems/roots it will 'burn' as it is highly alkaline - so there are some advantages of diluting the potash into your compost.

Can I add BBQ Briquettes to my Compost?

No. As you add waste in the HOTBIN it can be come heavy and its this weight and pressure that could cause the briquettes to become crushed (and dusty) causing problems with aeration as airflow becomes blocked in the unit. Further chemical accelerants are often added to the briquettes so it is also a case of not knowing exactly what is being added into the bin.

Charcoal is a natural, non-toxic, inert form of carbon. It is used widely in agriculture (especially in Japan), is believe to be one of the critical components in Amazonian Terra Petra (Dark Earth, or ATP) and is closely related to Biochar. A huge group of environmental scientists are saying actively add charcoal to soil!

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