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Wood ash

Ash or ashes are the solid remnants of fires. [1] Specifically, ash refers to all non-aqueous, non-gaseous residues that remain after something burns. In analytical chemistry, to analyse the mineral and metal content of chemical samples, ash is the non-gaseous, non-liquid residue after complete combustion.


Ashes as the end product of incomplete combustion are mostly mineral, but usually still contain an amount of combustible organic or other oxidizable residues. The best-known type of ash is wood ash, as a product of wood combustion in campfires, fireplaces, etc. The darker the wood ashes, the higher the content of remaining charcoal from incomplete combustion. The ashes are of different types. Some ashes contain natural compounds that make soil fertile. Others have chemical compounds that can be toxic but may break up in soil from chemical changes and microorganism activity.

Like soap, ash is also a disinfecting agent (alkaline). [2] The World Health Organization recommends ash or sand as alternative when soap is not available. [3]

The English word ash is derived from the Biblical Hebrew word for fire, אש (esh/aysh). [4]

Natural occurrence

Ash occurs naturally from any fire that burns vegetation, and may disperse in the soil to fertilise it, or clump under it for long enough to carbonise into coal.

Specific types

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Combustion</span> Chemical reaction

Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke. Combustion does not always result in fire, because a flame is only visible when substances undergoing combustion vaporize, but when it does, a flame is a characteristic indicator of the reaction. While the activation energy must be overcome to initiate combustion, the heat from a flame may provide enough energy to make the reaction self-sustaining.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lignite</span> Soft, brown, combustible, sedimentary rock

Lignite, often referred to as brown coal, is a soft, brown, combustible, sedimentary rock formed from naturally compressed peat. It has a carbon content around 25–35%, and is considered the lowest rank of coal due to its relatively low heat content. When removed from the ground, it contains a very high amount of moisture which partially explains its low carbon content. Lignite is mined all around the world and is used almost exclusively as a fuel for steam-electric power generation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Incineration</span> Waste treatment process

Incineration is a waste treatment process that involves the combustion of substances contained in waste materials. Industrial plants for waste incineration are commonly referred to as waste-to-energy facilities. Incineration and other high-temperature waste treatment systems are described as "thermal treatment". Incineration of waste materials converts the waste into ash, flue gas and heat. The ash is mostly formed by the inorganic constituents of the waste and may take the form of solid lumps or particulates carried by the flue gas. The flue gases must be cleaned of gaseous and particulate pollutants before they are dispersed into the atmosphere. In some cases, the heat that is generated by incineration can be used to generate electric power.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pyrolysis</span> Thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures in an inert atmosphere

The pyrolysis process is the thermal decomposition of materials at elevated temperatures, often in an inert atmosphere. It involves a change of chemical composition. The word is coined from the Greek-derived elements pyro "fire", "heat", "fever" and lysis "separating".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gasification</span> Form of energy conversion

Gasification is a process that converts biomass- or fossil fuel-based carbonaceous materials into gases, including as the largest fractions: nitrogen (N2), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), and carbon dioxide (CO2). This is achieved by reacting the feedstock material at high temperatures (typically >700 °C), without combustion, via controlling the amount of oxygen and/or steam present in the reaction. The resulting gas mixture is called syngas (from synthesis gas) or producer gas and is itself a fuel due to the flammability of the H2 and CO of which the gas is largely composed. Power can be derived from the subsequent combustion of the resultant gas, and is considered to be a source of renewable energy if the gasified compounds were obtained from biomass feedstock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Solid fuel</span>

Solid fuel refers to various forms of solid material that can be burnt to release energy, providing heat and light through the process of combustion. Solid fuels can be contrasted with liquid fuels and gaseous fuels. Common examples of solid fuels include wood, charcoal, peat, coal, hexamine fuel tablets, dry dung, wood pellets, corn, wheat, rye, and other grains. Solid fuels are extensively used in rocketry as solid propellants. Solid fuels have been used throughout human history to create fire and solid fuel is still in widespread use throughout the world in the present day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood fuel</span> Wood used as fuel for combustion

Wood fuel is a fuel such as firewood, charcoal, chips, sheets, pellets, and sawdust. The particular form used depends upon factors such as source, quantity, quality and application. In many areas, wood is the most easily available form of fuel, requiring no tools in the case of picking up dead wood, or few tools, although as in any industry, specialized tools, such as skidders and hydraulic wood splitters, have been developed to mechanize production. Sawmill waste and construction industry by-products also include various forms of lumber tailings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dry distillation</span>

Dry distillation is the heating of solid materials to produce gaseous products. The method may involve pyrolysis or thermolysis, or it may not.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fly ash</span> Residue of coal combustion

Fly ash, flue ash, coal ash, or pulverised fuel ash – plurale tantum: coal combustion residuals (CCRs) – is a coal combustion product that is composed of the particulates that are driven out of coal-fired boilers together with the flue gases. Ash that falls to the bottom of the boiler's combustion chamber is called bottom ash. In modern coal-fired power plants, fly ash is generally captured by electrostatic precipitators or other particle filtration equipment before the flue gases reach the chimneys. Together with bottom ash removed from the bottom of the boiler, it is known as coal ash.

In industrial chemistry, coal gasification is the process of producing syngas—a mixture consisting primarily of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapour —from coal and water, air and/or oxygen.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Destructive distillation</span>

Destructive distillation is a chemical process in which decomposition of unprocessed material is achieved by heating it to a high temperature; the term generally applies to processing of organic material in the absence of air or in the presence of limited amounts of oxygen or other reagents, catalysts, or solvents, such as steam or phenols. It is an application of pyrolysis. The process breaks up or 'cracks' large molecules. Coke, coal gas, gaseous carbon, coal tar, ammonia liquor, and coal oil are examples of commercial products historically produced by the destructive distillation of coal.

Charring is a chemical process of incomplete combustion of certain solids when subjected to high heat. Heat distillation removes water vapour and volatile organic compounds (syngas) from the matrix. The residual black carbon material is char, as distinguished from the lighter colored ash. By the action of heat, charring removes hydrogen and oxygen from the solid, so that the remaining char is composed primarily of carbon. Polymers like thermoset, or most solid organic compounds like wood or biological tissue, exhibit charring behaviour.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Household chemicals</span>

Household chemicals are non-food chemicals that are commonly found and used in and around the average household. They are a type of consumer goods, designed particularly to assist cleaning, house and yard maintenance, cooking, pest control and general hygiene purposes often stored in the kitchen or garage.

In analytical chemistry, ashing or ash content determination is the process of mineralization for preconcentration of trace substances prior to a chemical analysis, such as chromatography, or optical analysis, such as spectroscopy.

Coal analysis techniques are specific analytical methods designed to measure the particular physical and chemical properties of coals. These methods are used primarily to determine the suitability of coal for coking, power generation or for iron ore smelting in the manufacture of steel.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smouldering</span>

Smouldering or smoldering is the slow, flameless form of combustion, sustained by the heat evolved when oxygen directly attacks the surface of a condensed-phase fuel. Many solid materials can sustain a smouldering reaction, including coal, cellulose, wood, cotton, tobacco, cannabis, peat, plant litter, humus, synthetic foams, charring polymers including polyurethane foam and some types of dust. Common examples of smouldering phenomena are the initiation of residential fires on upholstered furniture by weak heat sources, and the persistent combustion of biomass behind the flaming front of wildfires.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bottom ash</span> Solid residue of combustion in the lower part of an industrial oven

Bottom ash is part of the non-combustible residue of combustion in a power plant, boiler, furnace or incinerator. In an industrial context, it has traditionally referred to coal combustion and comprises traces of combustibles embedded in forming clinkers and sticking to hot side walls of a coal-burning furnace during its operation. The portion of the ash that escapes up the chimney or stack is, however, referred to as fly ash. The clinkers fall by themselves into the bottom hopper of a coal-burning furnace and are cooled. The above portion of the ash is also referred to as bottom ash.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coal combustion products</span>

Coal combustion products (CCPs), also called coal combustion wastes (CCWs) or coal combustion residuals (CCRs), are categorized in four groups, each based on physical and chemical forms derived from coal combustion methods and emission controls:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood ash</span> Residue powder left after the combustion of wood

Wood ash is the powdery residue remaining after the combustion of wood, such as burning wood in a fireplace, bonfire, or an industrial power plant. It is largely composed of calcium compounds along with other non-combustible trace elements present in the wood. It has been used for many purposes throughout history.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charcoal</span> Lightweight black carbon residue

Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon residue produced by strongly heating wood in minimal oxygen to remove all water and volatile constituents. In the traditional version of this pyrolysis process, called charcoal burning, often by forming a charcoal kiln, the heat is supplied by burning part of the starting material itself, with a limited supply of oxygen. The material can also be heated in a closed retort. Modern "charcoal" briquettes used for outdoor cooking may contain many other additives, e.g. coal.


  1. "the definition of ash". Retrieved 2018-06-18.
  2. Howard et al. 2002: Healthy Villages A guide for communities and community health workers. CHAPTER 8 Personal, domestic and community hygiene. WHO. Accessed Oct. 2014.
  3. WHO 2014: Water Sanitation Health. How can personal hygiene be maintained in difficult circumstances? Accessed Oct. 2014
  4. "Strong's Hebrew: 784. אֵשׁ (esh) -- a fire". Retrieved 2023-02-23.