Sharing a meal outdoors with your family is probably one of the best bonding experiences. But after a day filled with fun, there’s also cleaning involved. And if you’re using a charcoal grill, you might also encounter several unlit charcoal left in your grill.

Now, here’s where one of the biggest questions comes in…

Can you reuse charcoal?

If you’re a thrifty person, for sure, you’d want to save money. After all, throwing a couple of unused charcoal is a waste, even if it’s only a few dollars.

So, to answer this question simply, yes, you can reuse charcoal. How? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about in the article below. We’ll also discuss:

  • If old charcoal will still burn
  • How to collect and store old charcoal

So, if you’re interested to know how you can reuse your charcoal, read on…

Can You Reuse Your Charcoal?

As mentioned above, yes, you can reuse charcoal.

Every time we cook, no matter how good you are at estimating, there will always be partially burnt and unburnt charcoals that will remain.

Some people might choose to discard these briquettes. However, if you’re using high-quality ones, it’s highly encouraged that you save every piece you can as they are expensive.

If you collect old charcoals and sandwich them between fresh charcoals, they’ll burn nicely and can still give you perfectly cooked meat. This way, you’re not wasting any of your money.

Most people just choose to discard charcoal briquettes because they think it’s actually a hassle to try to save them. But in fact, it’s really not.

With a bit of patience, you can save so much charcoal that you’re using every cooking process, and that’s something we will share with you later in this article.

Will Old Charcoal Still Burn

Given that you’ve stored the old charcoal you’ve collected in a safe and dry place, then yes, it will still burn. However, the quality of heat it produces might be a little different from the fresh charcoal briquettes.

Since these charcoals have already been used, you can expect that they’re smaller. So they will most likely stay close to each other, creating almost very little space for airflow.

And what happens when there’s minimal airflow? Well, the heat temperature is lower as well.

If you’re smoking and only want to reach a temperature of 250 °F, using old charcoal would be enough. However, if you want to reach temperatures higher than that, you’d want to use fresh charcoal.

But, as mentioned above, sandwiching old charcoals between fresh charcoals would be your best choice. Then, you can just control your fire and temperature using the air vents.

How To Collect and Store Your Old Charcoal

Now that you know that you can reuse charcoal, let’s look at how you can actually collect and store them.

There are two ways which you can do this:

1. Block Airflow

So, after using the charcoal grill, don’t clean up yet. Instead, simply close the lid of the grill and the air vents to prevent any air from coming in.

By doing this, you’ll be slowly extinguishing the fire inside your grill.

Wait for 24 to 48 hours to fully cool the charcoal down. After that, grab a mesh screen and sift the charcoal. You must separate ash from your briquettes to ensure that your charcoal burns cleanly the next time you use them.

After sifting, transfer the charcoal to a safe container and make sure to store them in a dry area.

This method will allow you to wait for 1-2 days before actually saving your charcoal. And in those two days, there’s a big possibility that more of the partially burnt charcoal would have continued burning and turned to ash.

So, if you think you have more time to spend after grilling, you can do the second method instead:

2. Use Water

Water is the greatest enemy of fire. So, it’s one thing you can use to immediately kill the fire and save more charcoal.

However, don’t pour water into your grill, as this will only cause you to damage it.

Instead, fill an inflammable container with water and grab a tong. Pick up a charcoal briquette from your grill and immerse it into the water to kill the fire.

Wait for a few seconds, and then transfer the charcoal into an inflammable container. Do this for the remaining charcoal.

Once you’ve gathered them in a container, lay them flat on an inflammable surface and let them dry out under the sun. Once thoroughly dried, store them, and they’ll be ready to use for your next grilling session.

Also, make sure to collect solid charcoal only. If they’re very ashy, they’re no good and would just most likely crumble.

Wrap Up

So, can you reuse charcoal?

Yes, you definitely can. However, do expect that they’ll be burning at a lower temperature. That’s why it’s highly recommended to sandwich old charcoal between fresh charcoal for a nice, clean burn.

There are two ways you can collect charcoal:

  • Blocking airflow
  • Using water

Feel free to use whichever makes you more comfortable, but make sure to store old charcoal in an inflammable container and let them stay dry.

And that’s it!

Pretty simple, right?

With only a few materials available at home and some patience, you can save yourself a few dollars for every grilling session.