There is no need to mention that hundreds of thousands of BBQ lovers use their charcoal grills and smokers on a regular basis to accomplish their BBQ tasks.
A common thing that happens at the end of a smoking or grilling session is the presence of leftover charcoal pieces. This is where many people come up with a question regarding the use of charcoal again.
Of course, it is a valid concern because everybody, including me, would not like to waste something valuable and prefer saving money.
So, allow me to initiate this article in which I am going to solve the mystery: Can you reuse charcoal for smoking or grilling?
Can you Reuse Charcoal for Smoking And Grilling?
Yes, it is possible to reuse your charcoal. As quality charcoal is pretty expensive these days, l highly recommend saving and storing it properly so you can confidently use it for your next smoking or grilling session.
Most importantly, reusing charcoal is an outstanding feature of charcoal smokers that sets them apart from other types of grills and smokers.
However, a few essential factors determine if the charcoal is reusable and if it will perform up to the mark in terms of heat generation, burn rate, smoke production, and flavor infusion.
Allow me to go through these factors quickly and make things more understandable for you.
- Charcoal Quality: The type and quality of fresh charcoal play a vital role in deciding whether you will be able to reuse it or not. In this case, I suggest you use lump charcoal or briquettes as they are a better option for reuse.
- Moisture Content: This is another essential factor to consider that is directly relevant to how you store your charcoal pieces. If you keep them somewhere where they engage with the moisture, you may not be able to burn them in the next cooking session.
- Ash Buildup: Lastly, too much ash on the coals from previous use can resist airflow and reduce heat output. Therefore, it’s essential to remove extra ash before reusing the charcoal.
To conclude, by considering these factors and taking proper care of your charcoal, you can make the most of its reuse, ensuring a successful smoking or grilling experience.
How To Save Charcoal For Reusing It?
So, I believe that you must be happy to know that you can save money by reusing your charcoal in the upcoming BBQ session.
But you should also know that it is essential to learn the procedure of properly saving charcoal from your current cooking session and making it reusable for the next one. It is a similar process to putting out a charcoal grill or smoker.
Let’s find out how to save charcoal and reuse it with optimal performance.
Extinguish The Burning Charcoal
Once your smoking or grilling session has ended, you’ve served food to your guests or family members, and your grill or smoker is empty, wait a bit to let it completely cool down.
Next, close the vents completely to limit the oxygen supply, which will help extinguish the burning charcoal. At this time, you can pick up the charcoal pieces to use for the next cooking session.
Here’s a detailed guide on how a grill’s vents and lid play their role in different scenarios.
Let The Hot Coals Cool Down
The next step is to cool down the coals that you picked from your grill after cooking. This process can take longer than expected because charcoal takes around 48 hours to cool down completely.
But this wait rewards you with the assurance of safe handling and the high potential of reusing the charcoal for your upcoming smoking or grilling sessions.
Another quick method to cool down the coals is by placing them inside a metal bucket of water. This can extinguish them faster but requires extra effort and steps to keep the charcoal pieces dry.
Remove Ash From The Coals And Store Them
After you’ve chosen the suitable cooling method and your coals have completely cooled down, the next step is to prepare them for storage.
So, begin by removing any ash or debris from the coals to ensure better airflow and prevent any leftover materials from affecting the charcoal quality that you will use for your next cooking session.
Once the coals are free from excess ash, it’s time to store them properly. The way you store your coals can significantly impact their performance and reusability.
There is one primary consideration to look after, which is to store them somewhere where they don’t absorb moisture. Moisture can affect the quality of the charcoal and make it less effective for burning.
You can store the coals in a dry and airtight container to avoid this. This helps in maintaining their quality and ensures that you have well-prepared coals for your next grilling adventure.
To conclude everything, extinguish your charcoal after smoking or grilling, let it cool, remove ash from it, store it in an airtight dry condition, and you are ready to reuse it.
Does The Already Used Charcoal Burn Hot Enough?
Wondering if your old charcoal can still burn and deliver good heat? The short answer is yes, your used charcoal can burn hot as long as you follow some guidelines.
For example, if you notice that your charcoal pieces are still solid and you are keeping them in dry conditions, it will be pretty easy for you to ignite them using a chimney starter.
You might struggle in igniting the used charcoal, keeping it lit, and achieving the desired cooking temperature if it gets wet during the storing process. So, make sure to keep them dry until you put them back in your charcoal smoker or grill.
If I talk about how hot your already used charcoal can burn, it is more suitable for achieving a cooking temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
But if you are expecting your grill or smoker to reach a higher temperature, like 360 degrees Fahrenheit or above, that may not be a viable option. You will need to use more charcoal.
In other words, you can reuse charcoal for smoking because it requires a lower temperature and not for grilling. After all, it requires a slightly higher temperature.
How Do You Ignite Old Charcoal In A New Cooking Session?
The process of igniting old charcoal is pretty much the same, but you might face some challenges while proceeding with it because of its existing condition.
To properly ignite your already used charcoal in a new cooking session, make sure you arrange them properly to ensure better airflow.
Moreover, you will also have to use fresh charcoal pieces along with the old ones for an excellent combustion process that will make things easier for you.
Here’s a quick revision on how to accomplish this task. Spread your dry and ash-free coals inside the grill, put new coals inside the chimney starter, ignite them, and place them over the old pieces when they are screaming hot.
You can reuse your charcoal from the previous smoking session in the upcoming one, and you should definitely consider doing it because, with a bit of proper care and storage, you can save money and ensure satisfactory results while smoking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you reuse the same charcoal multiple times?
The charcoal may only be used once or max twice, but after the second use, it decomposes into sawdust and loses its ability to burn efficiently.
How long should charcoal rest before cooking?
After igniting the charcoal, shut the grill lid and let the coal rest for around 10 minutes before you place your food items on the grill grates.
Can you cook with charcoal right away?
No, you can’t cook right away with the charcoal because, due to the low temperature inside the grill, your food may stick to the grates or not cook evenly.
Robert Gill, a BBQ enthusiast, and Senior Author at FaveGrills.com bring his extensive knowledge of BBQ equipment and exciting recipes to the team. With his outgoing personality and love for BBQ, Robert plays an essential role in the FaveGrills community, sharing his passion and expertise through informative articles and gear reviews.