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Ash vs Cinders vs Clinkers vs Embers

Ash, Cinders, Clinkers and Embers all mean the remains of combustible material after it has been destroyed by fire.

Ash, especially as the plural ashes, implies perfect combustion and a powdery residue consisting only of incombustible and thoroughly disintegrated mineral or earthy substances.

  • devices used to trap fly ash
  • wood ashes are used as a fertilizer
  • the house and its furnishings were reduced to ashes

Sometimes the singular ash suggests a solid mass, not yet disintegrated.

  • the ash of a cigar

Cinders carries the implication of either incomplete combustion or incombustibility and is applied to a residue, usually of a coal fire, consisting of coarse particles which, if the combustion is incomplete, are capable of further burning.

  • sift the ashes from the cinders

Or which are the remains of incombustible impurities in the fuel and may also be called clinkers. Strictly, a clinker is a fused or vitrified stony mass such as is formed in burning impure coal or in smelting metals containing impurities, or is ejected from a volcano; thus, cinders composed mainly of small clinkers are often used for surfacing paths, driveways, and tracks for footraces.

Embers is applied to the still glowing or still smoldering remains of a fire just before it is reduced to ashes or cinders.