Freshly erupted volcanic ash contains a range of soluble elements, some of which can generate harmful effects in living cells and are considered potentially toxic elements (PTEs). This work investigates the leaching dynamics of ash-associated PTEs in order to optimize a method for volcanic ash respiratory hazard assessment. Using three pristine (unaffected by precipitation) ash samples, we quantify the release of PTEs (Al, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, V, Zn) and major cations typical of ash leachates (Mg, Na, Ca, K) in multiple simulated lung fluid (SLF) preparations and under varying experimental parameters (contact time and solid to liquid ratio). Data are compared to a standard water leach (WL) to ascertain whether the WL can be used as a simple proxy for SLF leaching. The main findings are: PTE concentrations reach steady-state dissolution by 24 h, and a relatively short contact time (10 min) approximates maximum dissolution; PTE dissolution is comparatively stable at low solid to liquid ratios (1:100 to 1:1000); inclusion of commonly used macromolecules has element-specific effects, and addition of a lung surfactant has little impact on extraction efficiency. These observations indicate that a WL can be used to approximate lung bioaccessible PTEs in an eruption response situation. This is a useful step towards standardizing in vitro methods to determine the soluble-element hazard from inhaled ash.