Everything You Wanted to Know About Cigarette Ash and Plants

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Justin R.

Cigar Enthusiast, Chief Editor

is cigarette ash good for plants
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Have you ever accidentally ashed your cigarette or cigar onto a plant and felt a bit guilty? After all, we constantly hear how smoking is bad for our health. Well, it turns out that cigarette/cigar ash may not be as bad for plants as it seems.

So, is cigarette ash good for plants? Unfortunately, there isn’t a direct answer. Different plants react to cigarette ashes in their own way.

Here at Cigar Amigo, we try to provide our readers with valuable information related to cigar smoking and more.  By the end of this article, you’ll learn exactly how tobacco ash can benefit or harm outdoor and indoor plants.

Are Cigarette Ashes Good for Plants?

Cigarette ashes are helpful for some houseplants, but are toxic for others. Nicotine can be as bad for plants as it is for people, so adding it to your soil can potentially cause some adverse side effects for your plants.

For starters, cigarette and cigar ash can cause the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV). The tobacco mosaic virus is extremely contagious, and an infected plant can transmit it by rubbing its leaves onto neighboring plants. The tobacco mosaic virus can cause stunted plant growth, malformation of leaves, yellow spotting, green veins, and numerous other symptoms (see more below).

That said, cigarette ashes can contain potassium and other nutrients that could benefit indoor and outdoor plants. However, they don’t contain nearly enough nutrients as  natural fertilizer.

What is the Tobacco Mosaic Virus?

Tobacco Mosaic Virus

The tobacco mosaic virus is one of the primary reasons why people are skeptical when asked are cigarette ashes good for plants. Mostly because the tobacco mosaic virus is extremely resilient, infectious, and deadly for plant life.

It can even spread in greenhouse benches, trellis wires, containers, and infected clothing. Apart from the mosaic virus, tobacco plants are susceptible to radioactivity that can remove heavy metals that are needed for the plant to thrive.

Is Ash Good for Potted Plants?

While there is evidence that states ash can be good for many plants due to its potassium content, it’s not nearly as effective as other compounds. It’s also risky if you don’t know the soil acidity that your plants require.

At the end of the day, it won’t hurt to dump ashes into your pot soil. However, ash doesn’t contain nitrogen which is an extremely important nutrient for plants.

Are Pipe Tobacco Ashes Good for Plants?

Like cigarette ashes, pipe tobacco remains contain a fair amount of potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. As a result, they could potentially help indoor plants get the nutrients they need for optimal health. However, you’ll need to ensure the tobacco is completely burnt.

Otherwise, the nicotine residue could be toxic and cause tobacco mosaic virus and several other health problems. Adding nicotine to plant soil is always a bad idea. You’re better off using human urine than tobacco products since urine contains high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus.

That said, the most apparent benefit nicotine has for plants is deterring unwanted insects.

Is Paper Ash Good for the Garden?

Paper and wood ash can be good for some fruit plants since it contains a good amount of potash. That said, paper and wood ashes tend to be more useful as compost than cigarette ashes. Paper ash contains most of the common nutrients outdoor and indoor plants need to prosper.

Moreover, paper ash doesn’t carry the same risk of tobacco mosaic virus as cigar ash and cigarette ashes. You can add the paper ash into your compost pile along with banana peels, egg shells, or any other organic compounds that are rich in nitrogen.

However, there are a few factors to consider before you start dumping paper ashes into your plant food.  

The effects of ashes depend mostly on what kind of soil you’re using. For example, paper ashes may not be suitable for neutral or alkaline soil because it could prevent your plants from absorbing nutrients.

Is Cigarette Smoke Good for Plants?

There’s been solid research that smoke from forest fires has negative side effects for wild plants. In short, the smoke hinders the plant’s ability to photosynthesize and causes stunted growth.

Similar studies were conducted to see the effect cigarette smoke and other tobacco products have on indoor plants.

The results lean more towards the idea that cigarette smoke is harmful for indoor plants. Just 30 minutes a day of exposure can prevent your plants from growing enough leaves.

The majority of the leaves coming from the houseplant’s stems will either turn brown or dry out and fall off.

As a result, it’s better to keep your plants free from tobacco smoke.

What Is Cigarette Ash Good For?

It’s not news that smoking isn’t healthy, but is there anything that makes cigarette ashes good or useful? From the surface, the idea of cigarette and cigar ash being a source of nutrients seems a bit bizarre.

However, the information above shows that the ash may be helpful for growing houseplants.

So, what are cigarette or cigar ashes good for? There are various other ways you can use your ashes more effectively.

Polishing Solution

Your cigarette ashes might be of good use if you have wooden furniture. They can help remove those unsightly stains that occur whenever you don’t use a coaster. Moreover, you can even use your cigarette ashes to remove concrete stains and to prevent mildew.

Removing Dye Stains

Have you ever found yourself with a stubborn stain on your skin after dying your hair? If so, you’re probably well-aware of how difficult it can be to remove the dye. Here’s where cigarette ashes can come in handy.

Tobacco plant ash can remove any excess hair dye that may have gotten on your skin. All you need to do is mix the cigarette or cigar ashes onto a damp towel and use it to remove the dye stains.

Pest Control

If you or someone in your family is a smoker, you can use your cigarette, pipe, or cigar ashes to keep unwanted pests out of your dwelling. Insects and other pests can’t stand nicotine, so you can use ashes as one of your closest allies.

All you need to do is mix some cigarette or cigar ashes with some water and let it sit overnight. Next, put the mixture into a spray bottle and apply some to your plants or anywhere else pests are hiding. However, don’t add ash to any edible plants as it could contain toxic compounds.

Purifying Water

This one is a little far out there, but bear with us. One significant issue governments have worldwide is removing a poisonous compound called arsenic out of drinking water. It’s not a great challenge for those that have the technology, but this brings severe limitations for places that don’t have the equipment.

Other organic compounds, such as banana peels and rice hulls can remove arsenic, but they aren’t that efficient. As a result, scientists stumbled upon a cheaper and more widely available solution to remove arsenic from drinking water – cigarettes.

Scientists have created a solution of cigarette ash and aluminum oxide to purify contaminated water, and the results have been extremely promising.

The simple production process was able to remove around 96% of the arsenic from the control samples. Once refined, this cigarette ash solution could help a wide range of nations give their rural areas more access to clean drinking water.

Alternative Ashes to Use Instead

While tobacco ashes may be able to help your garden thrive, there are various more effective compounds you can use. Moreover, these ingredients won’t cause tobacco mosaic disease or harm your plants in any way.

For the best compost pile, consider the following ashes:

Corncob Ash

Corncob Ash

Numerous farmers are considering corncob ash as a more affordable fertilizer. They do especially well if you’re trying to grow bean plants.

While they may not be the most nurtritious, they do a fantastic job of getting rid of pesky insects (especially ants).

If your garden is overrun by ants and you don’t want to use a chemical-based pesticide, corncob ashes could be a healthier solution.

Rice Hull Ash

Rice Hull

Rice hull ash provides certain plants with a wide range of helpful minerals. Large-scale farmers burn rice husks to use the ashes as a plant food for beans and other plants. It’s one of the best alternatives to cigarette and cigar ashes if you’re worried about the tobacco mosaic virus.

Plant Ash (Wood Ash)

Plant Ash

Plant ashes (especially wood ash) is another amazing source of nutrients you can add to your garden. It has far more potassium than cigar ash (only up to one percent), and won’t put your plants at risk of the tobacco mosaic virus.


No doubt, plants bring a lot of joy to our lives. Not to mention, they’re also a part of one of the most important food groups.

Although there’s some evidence that makes cigarette ashes good for plants, there are much more efficient and healthier things to add to your soil.

Wood ash and organic compost materials will be better for your plant life in the long run. If you want to put your cigarette ashes to good use, consider one of the ideas above.