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There's a small piece of land used for burning tree branches on bonfire (because that's the easiest way to get rid of them). Most of the material gets burnt to ashes but some of it only turns into charcoal. That charcoal pieces are between 5 and 20 millimeters in diameter and mixed with ashes.

Every time a bonfire is run new and new charcoal pieces remain because what remains from the previous bonfire simply doesn't heat enough and fails to burn further. So those pieces of charcoal accumulate in the ashes.

Charcoal doesn't degrade - it's almost pure carbon and noone wants to eat it - and so it remains there forever. It's easy to crush it but that just yields charcoal dust.

How would I get rid of that charcoal other than gathering it and dumping it somewhere (out of sight, out of mind)?

I could gather it (together with some ashes, but whatever) and try to burn it but it looks like it would be problematic because setting such small pieces of charcoal on fire is non-trivial.

What would be a good way to get rid of charcoal?

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    Have you considered mixing it with ground earth for your plants? This aerates and makes the ground easier to handle (plant new things, remove unwanted weeds,...). But in the first place, I would advise you to find a way to dispose the branches without burning them. With a little work you may either shred this wood to pieces or bury it until it rot and make your earth better. See also sustainability.stackexchange.com/questions/282/… . – J. Chomel Jun 22 '18 at 14:50
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    Not a dupe IMO. The wood ash question is not about charcoal pieces, and it's about someone living in an apartment. – Jan Doggen Jun 27 '18 at 6:59
  • Agreed -- close vote removed. – LShaver Jun 27 '18 at 13:04
  • Look into BioChar. Also use charcoal for filtering water. – That Idiot Jul 10 '18 at 13:10
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You are talking about black gold that has a value of AU$40 per 25 litre bag in my area. I would suggest either selling it or putting it back into the soil.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biochar for uses of charcoal as a soil amendment.

You can collect (cool) charcoal in a plastic bag until you have a volume worth doing something serious with. Because it's pure carbon it will store indefinitely.

Alternatively, if you rake out the old charcoal, set up your new fire, then put the charcoal on top, then I think you'll find that it does indeed burn. Wood ash tends to be very fluffy and acts as a good insulator — which is why charcoal tends to accumulate in a bed of ash. If you separate the charcoal from the ash then it's no-longer insulated, and getting it to burn is much easier.

Whatever you do, don't pour ash onto a fire. That's about the same as throwing sand onto a fire — something that folks do (in a pinch) to put a fire out.

  • I just noticed this question is a duplicate. You may want to post this answer at the other question: sustainability.stackexchange.com/q/282/3379 – LShaver Jun 26 '18 at 21:27
  • @LShaver Although they are both produced by wood fires, wood ash and charcoal are distinct by-products with different uses. That other question is about wood ash, not charcoal, so I don't think my answer belongs there. I also don't think that this question is a duplicate (for the same reason). – Tim Jun 27 '18 at 7:16
  • Good point, I removed my close vote. – LShaver Jun 27 '18 at 13:04
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I have used small charcoal bits from my own fire-pit to create small terrariums.

Hard wood ash can be used to make lye.

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