Can You Reuse Charcoal?

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Charcoal is the best fuel for grilling if you want your food to taste grilled, not merely baked. The charcoal used for cooking consists mostly of carbon. It is made from wood that has been burned for a long time to get rid of moisture, tar, and other constituents. The result is a fuel that can burn hot and even while also giving a smoky flavor to food, which is why charcoal perfect for grilling. Another benefit of charcoal over other fuel types is that it can be reused.

What are some considerations when reusing charcoal?

One of the few drawbacks of cooking with charcoal has to do with how much of it can go to waste. If you want to get your grill up to a high temperature to grill steaks and other foods that require a lot of heat, you will need to use a full load of charcoal. Depending on how much food you intend to cook, you may not use up all of that fuel. This means that at the end of every cooking session, some unburned briquettes or pieces of lump charcoal may be left behind. Many people throw these out with the result that they spend more money grilling with charcoal than necessary. A better option is to reuse your leftover charcoal.

You can get the best results with reused charcoal by following the tips below.

Extinguish the coals immediately

Once your food has been removed from the grill, you should go to work putting your coals out. Instead of using water, try closing your grill’s lid and any vents. This should allow the coals to die down without any additional steps.

If your grill is not airtight, you may have to use water to put coals out. Avoid dousing burning charcoal with water while it is still in the grill since this can cause rust. Instead, minimize damage by removing the coals and dropping them into a bucket of water.

Note that using water to put your coals out will also necessitate the extra step of drying the charcoal before you can use it again.

Dry your charcoal

If you used water to put the charcoal out, you can dry them by putting the pieces of charcoal out in the sun for a few days.

Store properly

Once your charcoal has cooled completely, remove the ash and store. Because charcoal briquettes burn from the exterior inward, the ash will be on the exterior. Move your charcoal around on the grate in your grill to separate usable coal from ashes. Once you remove the outer layer of ash, you should have a usable interior that will be a smaller version of the original briquette. Store your charcoal in a noncombustible container.

What are some limitations of reusing charcoal?

Once you extinguish your leftover charcoal and separate it from the ash, you probably will not have enough leftover charcoal to be able to use it on its own. Leftover charcoal also does not burn for as long as fresh charcoal.

You can overcome the limitations by adding your leftover briquettes to fresh ones. If you are using a chimney starter, simply place the fresh briquettes in first and put the reused charcoal on top of them. Reused charcoal is easier to start than fresh charcoal. This means that it can shorten the time it takes to get your grill going.