A comparison was made of different digestion methods for the total decomposition of siliceous and organically environmental samples prior to their analysis by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). In the present study, three different digestion methods, including microwave-assisted, hot plate heating and pressurized digestion (pressure bomb), were employed for the determination of nine heavy metals, i.e. Ag, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn in sediment, soil, sludge and oil. The investigation of different combinations of acids through their analytical performance demonstrated that HCl plays a vital role in the determination of silver. The combination of HNO3 and HCl possesses more reactive ability in oxidizing organic matter. The recoveries of all elements of interest in sediment (NIST 2704) obtained by different digestion methods were found to be 86% to 113%, while microwave assisted digestion with various combinations of HNO3-HCl-HF and HNO3-HClO4-HF was considered to be a viable alternative to the conventional digestion systems because of its more intensive reaction conditions. The analytical results of four certified reference materials with different matrices, including sediment (GBW 07305), soil (GBW 07411), sludge (BCR R-143) and oil (NIST 1085a), by the microwave-assisted acid digestion method indicated that the recoveries of all elements of interest were more than 85% and the throughput of applied analytical method could be elevated significantly.