Food Analysis pp 105-115 | Cite as

Ash Analysis

  • Maurice R. Marshall
Part of the Food Analysis book series (FSTS)


Ash refers to the inorganic residue remaining after either ignition or complete oxidation of organic matter in a foodstuff. A basic knowledge of the characteristics of various ashing procedures and types of equipment is essential to ensure reliable results. Two major types of ashing are used: dry ashing, primarily for proximate composition and for some types of specific mineral analyses; wet ashing (oxidation), as a preparation for the analysis of certain minerals. Microwave systems now are available for both dry and wet ashing, to speed the processes. Most dry samples (i.e., whole grain, cereals, dried vegetables) need no preparation, while fresh vegetables need to be dried prior to ashing. High-fat products such as meats may need to be dried and fat extracted before ashing. The ash content of foods can be expressed on either a wet weight (as is) or on a dry weight basis. For general and food-specific information on measuring ash content, see references (1–11).


Muffle Furnace Volatile Element Microwave System Microwave Furnace Ferrous Perchlorate 
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7.8 References

  1. 1.
    Analytical Methods Committee (1960) Methods for the destruction of organic matter. Analyst 85:643–656. This report gives a number of methods for wet and dry combustion and their applications, advantages, disadvantages, and hazardsCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    AOAC International (2007) Official methods of analysis, 18th edn., 2005; Current through revision 2, 2007 (On-line). AOAC International, Gaithersburg, MD. This contains the official methods for many specific food ingredients. It may be difficult for the beginning student to followGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Aurand LW, Woods AE, Wells MR (1987) Food composition and analysis. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York. The chapters that deal with ash are divided by foodstuffs. General dry procedures are discussed under each major headingCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bakkali K, Martos NR, Souhail B, Ballesteros E (2009) Characterization of trace metals in vegetables by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry after closed vessel microwave digestion. Food Chem 116(2):590–594CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Mesko MF, De Moraes DP, Barin JS, Dressler VL, Knappet G (2006) Digestion of biological materials using the microwave-assisted sample combustion technique. Microchem J 82:183–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Neggers YH, Lane RH (1995) Minerals, ch. 8. In: Jeon IJ, Ikins WG (eds) Analyzing food for nutrition labeling and hazardous contaminants. Marcel Dekker, New York. This chapter compares wet and dry ashing and summarizes in tables the following: losses of specific elements during dry ashing; acids used in wet oxidation related to applications; AOAC methods for specific elements related to food applicationsGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pomeranz Y, Meloan C (1994) Food analysis: theory and practice, 3rd edn. Chapman & Hall, New York. Chapter 35 on ash and minerals gives an excellent narrative on ashing methods and is easy reading for a student in food chemistry. A good reference list of specific mineral losses is given at the end of the chapter. No stepwise procedures are givenGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Smith GF (1953) The wet ashing of organic matter employing hot concentrated perchloric acid. The liquid fire reaction. Anal Chim Acta 8:397–421. The treatise gives an in-depth review of wet ashing with perchloric acid. Tables on reaction times with foodstuffs and color reactions are informative. It is easy for the food scientist to understandCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wehr HM, Frank JF (eds) (2004) Standard methods for the examination of dairy products, 17th edn. American Public Health Association, Washington, DC. This text gives detailed analytical procedures for ashing dairy productsGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Wooster HA (1956) Nutritional data, 3rd edn. H.J. Heinz, Pittsburgh, PAGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Zhang H, Dotson P (1994) Use of microwave muffle furnace for dry ashing plant tissue samples. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 25(9/10):1321–1327CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Food Science and Human NutritionUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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