10 Surprising Uses for Charcoal

Barbecue season is just around the corner, and, no doubt, you’re dusting off last year’s bag of charcoal. But don’t light up that grill just yet — there are plenty of other uses for charcoal. From preserving heirlooms to maintaining gardens, read on for clever ways to use charcoal.

Use these tips with additive-free charcoal; or, better yet, make your own!

Earlier: What You Should — and Shouldn’t — Dry Clean

Flowers & Garden.

1. Remove Pesticides. Did you overdo it with the organic pesticide treatment? Remedy that with a mixture of activated carbon and water. Combine 1 pound charcoal with 1 gallon water, transfer to a spray bottle, and mist directly onto the soil. This is especially useful if you’re starting a garden from scratch and aren’t sure how the area was treated in the past. Add the charcoal-water mixture to the soil to absorb any nasty chemicals before getting to work on your garden.

2. Keep Cut Flowers Fresh. Forgetful flower-lovers will appreciate this tip. Place a briquette at the bottom of a vase of cut flowers will help keep the water, and the bouquet, fresher for longer.

3. Use as Mulch. Charcoal is an effective mulch; it keeps soil moist and deters weed growth. Make sure to break the briquettes into smaller chunks, about 1-inch in diameter.



Around the House.

4. Keep Bathrooms, Fridges and More Fresh. Charcoal absorbs moisture and unpleasant odors. Place a dish with a briquette in it in your bathroom, fridge, or really anywhere you want to keep fresh and dry. The best stuff here is additive-free charcoal, and the best results will come in places that don’t get much air circulation. Attics, closets, basements … You name it!

5. Zap Rust off of Cast Iron. There are plenty of methods for removing rust from cast iron. But want to avoid all the elbow grease? Just let the rust burn off over a charcoal grill. It’s the simplest, most effective way to restore your old pots and pans. After the rust is gone, let it cool completely and then re-season the cast iron as soon as you can.

6. Preserve Linens, Books, and More. Sure, nothing lasts forever, but you can certainly extend the life of your cherished possessions. Storing old books, photographs, clothing, linens, quilts, and more with a piece of charcoal will help do just that. The moisture-zapping briquettes will prevent your heirlooms from mold, mildew, musty smells and more.





7. Protect Tools. Prevent rust from forming on your tools by storing them with a piece of charcoal.

8. Make a Terrarium. Want an easy, fun project? Bring your garden inside by making a terrarium. Putting a little charcoal at the bottom of the pot will help filter toxins and prevent root rot. You’ll find more about this here.

9. Never Buy a Disposable Water Filter Again. Buying disposable water filters can be a pain on both your wallet and the environment. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Click here for instructions on how to turn a disposable filter into a refillable one, with the help of a little activated charcoal, of course!

10. Make Cheap Vodka More Palatable. Vodka is supposed to be tasteless and odorless — but the cheap stuff, the really, really cheap stuff, is far from it. Luckily, though, with just a few things you probably have around the house already, along with some activated charcoal, you can turn that glorified lighter fluid into a smoother, better quality vodka. Get instructions here.


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Looks like it might be doable.

Kimmy H.
Kimmy H3 years ago

Very interesting. Thank you for the tips.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I just cut some roses and brought them in. Now, I'm going to the garage for a briquette for the bottom of the vase!

Thanks for the tips!

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers3 years ago

Thank you.

Kate S.
Kate S3 years ago


Danuta Watola
Danuta W3 years ago

Interesting article, thanks for sharing.

Jennifer H.
Jennifer H3 years ago

Some good ideas. i have to admit being surprised by number 10 on the list. Was wondering tho, how to tell if your briquettes are just plain charcoal.

Franck R.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing this idea

da c.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.