Best Ashtrays

Updated October 2020
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Updated October 2020
Written by Melissa Nott Authors 's image

Buying guide for best ashtrays

An ashtray can be a lot of things. It can be a decorative art piece, a functional device for smokers to use, or even a small container for candies, car keys, and other sundry items. The simple unassuming ashtray has been pressed into use as a multipurpose household item, but it didn’t start out that way.

Ever since people began smoking tobacco, there has been an urgent need for somewhere to put the ash that results from smoking. Because the ash is hot, dumping it on the ground isn’t a good idea. Fires can be started that way, and in fact, too many house fires and forest fires have been started that way. Enter the ashtray.

Smoking is bad for your health, but it’s also extremely difficult to give up once you’ve started. So, if you’re a smoker, you need a good ashtray — or two or three. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Ashtrays get hot! Never touch the bottom of an ashtray with your bare hands after stubbing out a cigarette in it. Wait at least five to ten minutes for it to cool down.

Key considerations

Size

The size of an ashtray is important for several reasons. First, the amount of room it will take up when you place it on an end table, coffee table, or dining room table matters. Big ashtrays might look good in pictures, but if they take up too much room, you won’t have space for anything to sit alongside them. If you smoke, it’s a big part of your life and helps you relax, but it’s not the only part of your life. Leave space for other things by getting a smaller ashtray that won’t consume all the room.

Another reason size matters is that a larger ashtray, if holding too much cigarette ash, can quickly become a major source of odor and spillage. The slightest breeze could come through and stir up a miniature tornado of ashes, scattering them all over the room before you can stop it. A smaller ashtray with a smaller opening on top won’t be as susceptible to a stray zephyr of wind. This becomes especially important if you have an ashtray outside on the patio or porch.

Diameter

Ashtrays have an interior diameter and an exterior diameter. The exterior diameter tells you how much space it will consume on a table or countertop. The interior diameter reflects how big or small the opening is where you flick the ashes. It will also tell you how large the lip is where you put your cigarettes in ashtray slots. The ideal thickness of an ashtray wall is at least half an inch, so you can properly balance your cigarette on it.

Depth

The depth of an ashtray affects how much ash and how many cigarette butts you can put in it before you need to empty it. Any depth over one inch may become problematic because as the ashtray fills, you’d have to sweep butts and ash out of the way to put out the current cigarette. If there is too much in the ashtray, you could accidentally set the old butts on fire, creating a hazardous situation.

Quantity

If there are multiple smokers in the house, you’ll probably need an ashtray for each person in the living room, since they may be sitting on opposite sides of the room. If you smoke at the table, one will probably suffice. On the other hand, if you invite people over for a night of poker or card games, you might need to have some extra ashtrays on hand that can be set out for that purpose.

Non-smoking uses

Ashtrays were never intended to hold anything except ash, but their small size and decorative designs have prompted many people to use them for holding all sorts of small objects. People put them by the front door to hold their car keys. Office workers store paper clips or pushpins in them. They make a great place to put your loose change, too. You don’t have to be a smoker to buy an ashtray.

Features

Material

Ashtrays need to be reasonably fireproof. You’re putting hot ash in them, after all. Metal, glass, plastic, and ceramic are the most common materials used in ashtrays. Occasionally you’ll find ashtrays made from specially treated wood or resin. Pottery, plastic, and resin ashtrays are often the most colorful and varied in appearance.

Color

Name a color, and there has been an ashtray made in it. Metal ashtrays are normally burnished or brushed, limiting their color to that of the particular metal being used. Glass ashtrays don’t have a color as such, but they are often cut and shaped to make them sparkle like diamonds. Ceramic, plastic, resin, and pottery ashtrays might feature painted scenery or a wild profusion of colors.

Slots

The slots are the grooves in the lip of the ashtray that hold cigarettes. When you need to put a lit cigarette down, you put it in the slot or groove of an ashtray. The slot prevents it from rolling around or creating a fire hazard.

Covers

A cover is a good idea for any ashtray you’re going to be using outside. No matter how small the top of the ashtray is, a good wind could always pick up a cloud of ash and spread it everywhere: on you, the table and chairs, your guests. If there are live embers in the ashtray, those could be picked up just as easily as the cold ash, creating a fire hazard. An ashtray cover, particularly one on hinges, is a great solution to this problem. Any ashtray you buy for outdoor use should have a lid or cover on it.

Bottom

Some ashtrays have felt or another material glued to the bottom, so they don’t scrape or scratch your tables and countertops. It usually doesn’t add too much to the price of the ashtray, and it offers an important bit of protection for your furniture.

Dishwasher safe

Ashtrays need cleaning and washing just like any dish, glass, or cup in your house. Unless your ashtray has felt on the bottom, you should make sure it is dishwasher safe to make cleaning easier. Wooden ashtrays probably won’t be dishwasher safe. Ashtrays with hinged lids or covers may or may not be safe in the dishwasher. Check the manufacturer directions before putting it in the dishwasher.

Caution
Never set a lit cigarette down on the side of a counter or table. It creates a fire hazard.
STAFF
BestReviews

Ashtray prices

Anything below $10 would be considered a low price for an ashtray. This is where you’ll find plain round ashtrays made from stainless steel, ceramic, and plastic. They are functional but usually undecorated. Unprotected wooden ashtrays are in this price range, too.

Between $10 and $20 is where most ashtrays reside. You’ll find a wide range of styles, colors, materials, and shapes here. Over $20, you’ll find tall standing ashtrays or ashtrays with built-in fans that suction away the smoke.

Did you know?
Putting multiple lit cigarettes in an ashtray at the same time risks starting a fire from the combined heat.
STAFF
BestReviews

Tips

  • Empty an ashtray when it reaches the point of being half full to avoid accidentally starting a fire inside it.
  • Never position an ashtray beside or beneath a flammable object. Keep it away from hanging curtains, towels, and clothing.
  • Never bring an ashtray to bed with you. Don’t put it on the bed, and don’t smoke in bed. That is a major safety hazard.
  • If an ashtray is smoldering, something inside it is on fire or hasn’t been put out. Douse it immediately.
Ashtrays are usually square or circular; round ashtrays are most common. However, you will sometimes find ashtrays in other shapes — anything from a fish ashtray to an ashtray that looks like a football or a car.

FAQ

Q. How often should I wash my ashtrays?
A.
Once a week should be enough.

Q. Can ashtrays catch on fire?
A.
Ashtrays made from wood can catch on fire. Others won’t necessarily catch on fire, but they can become hot enough to trigger a fire in other materials that touch them.

Q. My ashtray has a crack in it. Is it still safe to use?
A.
No. The crack could allow enough heat to escape from the ashtray to create spontaneous combustion in nearby materials that are flammable.

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