Depending on the type of smoker you are, chances are that you go through at least a few good cigars per week. This might not create a ton of leftover ash but it can be annoying having to dispose of it separately. But what if there is a way to use that ash to your advantage? In this article, we will answer whether cigar ashes are good for plants and most importantly – what to do with the ash and cigar butts after you’re done smoking.
Below, we will go through the following sections:
- What does cigar ash consist of?
- Cigar vs wood ashes
- How cigar ashes affect your house plants
- List of house plants that benefit from ashes
All these points are important to truly understand how the process of fertilization works and whether ashes have a place in it. Before we dive deeper into that topic, make sure you check out my guide on some of the best cigar humidors for this year! Now, let’s jump into this!
What Does Cigar Ash Consist Of?
Cigars go through a delicate and complex manufacturing process. Their bodies often consist of different types of tobacco leaves wrapped together in different layers. Before a leaf is used in a cigar, it undergoes fermentation in special facilities and it is then bunched up with other leaves, rolled together in a cigar and left to age. After you smoke a cigar, there are plenty of things left in its ash. Some of these things are:
- Basic burned organic matter (from the leaves)
Apart from these chemicals, there are more than 4000 other substances found in cigars that can be harmful both to humans and plants. And while there is some amount of nitrogen, it usually is contained in far bigger quantities in normal wood ash or cigar leaves that have been left to decompose naturally.
Not fully burning through your cigars is also harmful if you decide to ever use them in the plant’s soil. Cigars that are halfway smoked or burned will still contain some amount of nicotine in them, along with plenty of other harmful substances. These are toxic for any type of soil and will make the soil less than optimal for your plants. Furthermore, there is an exponentially bigger risk of giving your plants tobacco mosaic virus if the cigar isn’t fully smoked.
Cigar vs Wood Ashes
While cigar and cigarette ashes are often harmful and have a poor nutrient profile, wood ash is surprisingly different. It is rich in nutrients such as phosphor, calcium, and even potassium. All of these nutrients (and the rest that are in the wood ash) are beneficial for your houseplants.
Wood ash, however, is pretty alkaline. Most wood ashes have a pH level of 9 to 11 meaning it is far more alkaline than what most houseplants need. Typically, a houseplant will need a pH of its soil of around 6.5, so make sure you keep it around that number even when adding cigar or wood ash to it. For that reason, some of the best uses for wood ash is to use a bit of it on plant soils that are too acidic.
One very important note to add here is that you shouldn’t use commercially available wood. This wood is often treated with chemicals. These chemicals remain in the ashes even after you burn it, hence it can be damaging for the plant itself.
Learn how to properly ash a cigar by clicking here!
How Cigar Ashes Affect House Plants
There are quite a lot of ways we can look at when it comes to the cigar ash/plant soil relationship. Most of the effects are harmful to the plant and might make its life harder. These are:
- Cigar ash alters the soil pH levels by increasing them thanks to its alkaline nature. This is good for certain plants but might damage others.
- Cigars that aren’t fully burned can transmit the tobacco mosaic virus to other plants and damage or kill them. The virus can also lead to losses in your crops if ash is used as a fertilizer.
- Cigar ash isn’t as rich in nutrients as one might think. This is why using wood ash would be a better option for your plants.
- Tobacco leaves absorb a lot of heavy elements like cadmium, lead, zinc, and others from the soil (as well as from pesticides and fertilizers). These can be then transferred to your plants.
- The phosphates used in fertilizing tobacco crops might contain radioactivity that remains in your soil for decades after being used.
- Using cigar ash as a fertilizer will put a lot of abiotic stress factors into the soil. These will harm and slow down the development of your plants.
All of these effects are surely enough to outweigh the potential benefits of using that ash for fertilizing. These reasons are also a good excuse to throw away your cigar butts in a special container and not mix it with your regular trash.
List of Plants That Benefit From Ashes
All that being said, there are certain plants that will love having a bit of ash from time to time. Whether that is cigar or wood ash is entirely up to you but ash in general will keep these plants happy in their soil. The reason for that is because they prefer more alkaline soil. Examples for such plants are:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Deutzia (yuki cherry blossom)
If you want to learn more about cigar plume and mold and whether it is helpful for your cigar’s taste development, make sure you read this detailed article on the topic!
Frequently Asked Questions
What should you do with your cigar ashes?
In general, it is best to keep your cigar ashes and cigar butts away from your normal trash. That way, you can avoid accidental fires from happening. Moreover, when storing ash separately, you avoid having the bad scent of spent cigars spilling over into your kitchen or house.
Is cigarette ash good for use in your compost?
Cigarette ash (similar to cigar ash) isn’t biodegradable. That makes it a less-than-ideal option for your compost. You can use it for pH control but not much more than that.
Are ashes good for your lawn?
Wood ashes are rich in potassium and have high alkaline levels. That makes them a good choice to use on your lawn once or twice a year, especially if you live in an area with highly acidic soil.
So, are cigar ashes good for plants? Well, yes and no. One of the best uses I could think of is using them on houseplants that have their soil far more acidic than it needs to be. Since cigar (and wood) ashes are highly alkaline, it will be a great idea to use that ash on the plant’s soil.
This will balance out the pH levels. However, keep in mind that there are quite the number of harmful substances in cigars and they might still exist in the ashes left behind after you’re done smoking. This, combined with the fact that there aren’t many nutrients in the ash itself, might make you want to use a bit of ash from your fireplace, instead.