How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill

Last Updated May 5, 2023
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Are you seeking a short instruction manual for extinguishing your charcoal grill? Great! You’ve come t the right place.

You can put out a charcoal barbecue by simply extinguishing all the coals, throwing away the ash properly, and then cleaning the grill to put out any potential future fires.

You have two choices for putting out your burning coals. These are covered in detail below, along with comprehensive step-by-step instructions.

When you’re through grilling with charcoal, there isn’t an off switch like there is with gas barbecues. The coals burn quite hot, and it can take them up to 48 hours to cool down completely so they can be thrown away.

Although there are methods to quicken the procedure, you should still wait several hours before handling them. Some individuals might believe it’s acceptable to let the coals burn out on their own without assistance, and most of the time they will be fine, but doing so puts both people and pets in danger of accidentally touching the hot grill and getting burnt. In addition, it poses a fire risk if a pet, wild animal, or wind knocks the grill over.

How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill

Why Should I Put Out My Charcoal Grill?

You’ve completed cooking on the grill, so you’re done with it, correct? Not yet, there are still lit charcoal chunks inside. Unless you put the charcoal out manually, it will burn until its last ember.

That could take a lot of time if you’ve used a lot of charcoal. It will smolder away unchecked throughout that time. Children, pets, unknowing adults, and even your property are at risk.

It would be simple for someone else to conclude the grill is out and, thus, not hot if you weren’t manning it. A hot grill burn can be very painful. What if your pet runs into it and knocks it over, scattering hot embers all over the place? A serious fire could be started by a few ignited coals in the grass or on a wooden deck.

You are also unnecessarily releasing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is bad for the environment. Additionally, you waste charcoal that could perhaps be used again.

Last but not least, even the more affordable briquettes and the best lump wood charcoal aren’t cheap! If you can put them out, you can reuse the charcoal and cut costs.

What do I need to put out a charcoal grill?

Depending on the type of grill you have the equipment needed will vary. If you are using a decent grill with a lid and vents you’ll need no other equipment other than the grill. But if you haven’t got a lid or your vents are low quality and let in too much air you’ll need the following.

Steps to Put Out A Charcoal Grill with a Lid

A charcoal grill may be safely extinguished with reasonable ease. Simply cutting off the oxygen supply and waiting for the coals to burn out will put out the fire.

Shut the Grill Down

Stopping the oxygen flow to the charcoal is the first step in safely putting out your charcoal barbecue.

Both the lid and the air vents should be closed. Grills like the Weber Kettle include exhaust vents on top of the grill lid and movable intake vents controlled from under the grill. Both should be completely closed.

Shut Down a Charcoal Grill

As even a small quantity of air might keep the charcoal burning, be certain they are all completely closed. By doing so, you can prevent the coals from burning and reuse them by preventing the fire from getting oxygen.

Allow the grill to cool down and the charcoal to burn out for 4 to 8 hours. Yes, that amount of time is excessive. However, it may take that long for the grill to cool down and all the coals to go out. Make sure your grill is securely out of harm’s way during this step.

Separate the Ash and Charcoal

If your grill has an ash collection system use it to get out as much ash as possible. Never gather it in a plastic container; only in a metal one. Use a wire brush if you need to remove ash that has stuck to the side along with some grease from your cooking.

Using tongs, separate the reusable charcoal from any remaining ash, and put these in a metal bucket in a dry area. Scoop the remaining ash and small bits of charcoal out of your grill using the metal spatula. Dump these remains on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Until you are very certain there is no charcoal that can re-ignite, 48 hours will be quite safe, wrap everything in foil and place it in a metal ashcan. The aluminum foil ball can be thrown in your regular garbage because there is probably no possibility of any still-live embers starting anything on fire when using this procedure.

Using tongs, separate the reusable charcoal from any remaining ash, and put these in a metal bucket in a dry area. Scoop the remaining ash and small bits of charcoal out of your grill using the metal spatula. Dump these remains on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap everything up in the foil and put it in a metal trash can until you are 100% sure there is no charcoal that can reignite, 48hrs will be very safe. Using this system, there is zero chance of any embers setting anything on fire so you can now dump the aluminum foil ball in your normal trash.

A Charcoal Grill Without a Lid: How to Put It Out

You might not be able to close your grill if your fire pit or barbecue does not have a lid. Although I believe that this approach is less than ideal, you must make do with what you have. Also, even some cheaper grills with lids will have vents that leak so much air that you’ll need to use this method.

  • Cold water should be poured into a metal bucket.
  • Get your metal tongs prepared and put on your heat-resistant gloves.
  • Use the tongs to remove a single piece of charcoal or briquette.
  • The charcoal should then be submerged in water for around 60 seconds.
  • Transfer the extinguished coal to a surface that won’t catch fire. I’d recommend lining the surface with aluminum foil to keep the mess to a minimum.
  • Repeat the process, putting the saved charcoal lumps or briquettes in a single layer.
  • Place somewhere to dry.
  • When fully dried, keep in a fire-resistant container until required.

How Much Time Does Charcoal Need to Burn Out?

The coals must totally cool on their own for up to 48 hours before they are suitable for removal from the grill. A fire and skin-burning risk could be created by removing them earlier!

Putting Out A Charcoal Grill Video

Can I use water to saturate my charcoal grill?

Water is without a doubt the nemesis of fire. Your coals will go out in seconds if you pour a tub of water over them. However, it doesn’t mean that you should.

Although there are people that will disagree with me I’d say never pour water on a charcoal grill to extinguish the coals. Firstly the steam from this could scold you. And if that’s not enough, your BBQ isn’t leakproof, dirty ash water will run all over your floor. And there is more, the thermal shock to your grill could mean cracks, especially if you have a ceramic grill.

Can I Use Old Charcoal Again?

Yes, of course you can. Reusing your charcoal will help you save money. One pleasant benefit of utilizing a charcoal smoker over other types of grills is the ability to reuse charcoal, so it’s best to make use of this benefit.

Final Thoughts

Incredibly flavorful food can be cooked on charcoal grills, but as with all heat sources, they can pose a risk if they are not properly extinguished. With the help of my tutorial, you’ll have all the knowledge required to swiftly, safely, and successfully extinguish your charcoal barbecue.

About Brian Hamilton

Brian Hamilton is a BBQ grilling enthusiast and has the expertise and knowledge to have created Brian specializes in all methods of grilling and bbq equipment and is a self-proclaimed backyard Pitmaster. Qualified at degree level he gained a BEng Degree in Engineering in the United Kingdom. Brian is a well-traveled and cultured individual and has lived and worked in several countries in Europe and has gained quite a reputation amongst peers for his skills and commitment on the grilling circuit.

How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill

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