Barbeque season may be drawing to a close, but don’t pack up that charcoal just yet. Thanks to a great article in This Old House magazine (it’s the September, 2009, issue; we couldn’t find an online version to point you to), as well as some research we did on the web, we discovered all sorts of unexpected uses for this super absorbent material. Here are some of our favorites, best used with old fashioned natural lump charcoal.

  1. A Natural Dehumidifier – If you’ve got a damp basement, fill a large coffee can or large yogurt tub with charcoal and punch some holes in the lid. The charcoals will absorb the humidity in the air.
  2. Air Freshener – Out of Arm & Hammer? Believe it or not, try a chunk of charcoal instead! It absorbs and eliminate odors.
  3. Keep Plants Fresh – Drop a chunk in a vase or with plants you are trying to root. Charcoal acts as a water purifier and keeps it clear and clean.
  4. Mulch for Your Garden – Try charcoal instead of wood chips or mulch. The charcoal will serve two purposes: (1) it will keep moisture in your soil and (2) like newspaper (Use Newspaper to Control Weeds), it will help keep the weeds away.
  5. Keep Books from Smelling Musty – Libraries have been using this trick for ages. Simply tuck a chunk of charcoal on your bookshelf to absorb odors. This trick works best in glass cases.
  6. Keep Your Tools Rust Free – As we noted in the first tip in this list, charcoal helps to remove moisture from the air. So just toss a chunk in your tool box and it will help keep your tools from rusting.
  7. Store with Rock Salt and/or Sand – You may be picking up a theme here…Since charcoal is a great absorbent, consider throwing a few chunks in with rock salt and/or sand you use to spread on the ground to keep ice and snow off of sidewalks and driveways in the winter. The charcoal will keep the rock salt and sand from clumping and freezing together (which happens when moisture gets in).
  8. Composting – A little charcoal in your compost will keep carbon levels up and keep your compost healthy.

Know of any other unusual and/or clever uses for charcoal? Share with the Tip Hero community by posting a comment below. And thanks for being a Tip Hero!

Homepage photo credit: ToastyKen