5/31/18 – Lexi Rhoden (Investigative piece by ProLawns office staff)

The charcoal briquettes you use as fuel are eventually reduced to a pile of charred remains and ashes. This residue contains recycled plant material and naturally occurring minerals, but it may also contain harmful chemicals. The difference between commercial or homemade charcoal briquettes determines their garden-safe qualities.

Commercial Charcoal -Typically used for grilling, not good as a lawn fertilizer. Charcoal has many uses such as art, medicine, cooking fuel, automotive fuel, purification, etc. The common charcoal is made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shell, or petroleum.

Biochar – is an Eco-friendly fuel source that does not contribute to deforestation, and it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals or synthetic ingredients. The ashes are safe to use in the garden, where they provide a nourishing environment for mycorrhizae, which are beneficial soil-borne fungi that help a plant’s root system. Biochar helps nutrients bind to the soil, where they are available to plant roots instead of washing away, and it can also help remove pesticides and other soil contaminants.

Homemade Charcoal Briquettes – are a fuel source made from recycled agricultural waste products. As an ecologically sound alternative to commercial charcoal briquettes, the homemade version does not include lighter fluid and harmful chemicals. A variety of crop residues, such as corncobs, sugarcane and bamboo, replace the wood that’s used to make commercial briquettes. Bananas, aloe and cassava are commonly used as starchy ingredients to bind the burned and crushed agricultural remains together before they are shaped in molds. The resulting homemade charcoal product is called biochar.