To date, cigarette ash has been synonymous with garbage and dry, flaky skin.
Jiaxing Li and his team of colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a low-cost process using cigarette ash to filter arsenic from water supplies.
By coating the ash with aluminum oxide and then running water through the mixture, Li and his team successfully removed more than 96 percent of the arsenic from the water, a number that easily complies with standards set by the World Health Organization.
Li first thought to use ash as a filter because of it porous structure; his team had previously experimented with other organic byproducts, such as banana peels and corn husks, but no materials matched the stellar filtration posted by ash.
While high-tech filtration techniques are already in place in first-world countries like America, this process could be incredibly successful in developing nations; “cigarette ashes are discarded in countries around the world and can be easily collected in places where public smoking is allowed, it could be part of a low-cost solution for a serious public health issue,” the American Chemical Society wrote.