Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

Here, we delve into how you can reuse charcoal for cooking and suggest some more unusual ways of reusing partially burnt charcoal and charcoal ash.
Jeremy Bivens
Jeremy Bivens
Research Writer
Jeremy Bivens is a passionate writer and grilling enthusiast. He's been working as a freelance journalist for over 15 years now and has a particular interest in food writing read more
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Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams
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Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous read more
Last updated: August 18, 2023
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For many BBQ grill masters, the usual practice with charcoal is to let it burn down even after you’re done grilling. Although it’s not a very environmentally sustainable fuel option, the good news is charcoal is reusable in many ways.

You can use it again for cooking by mixing it with a bit of fresh charcoal. We will tell you how to do that in the section below. Or you can get more creative with it! We have found ten more ways how lump charcoal and ash are reused: from skincare and strengthening your gums to shoe deodorizing.

Can you reuse old charcoal?

Although used charcoal may have a shorter burn time, the reality is that you can still reuse them. It all depends on the type of wood, the processing, and burn time of the charcoal briquettes.

From experience, we think it is essential that you combine the old charcoal with some new ones. And when the charcoal is reused over again, the ash is still valid. Next, we’ll show you how.

How to reuse charcoal for cooking?

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

You can use partially burnt lump charcoal or briquettes for cooking.

1. When you’re done grilling on the charcoal grill, close the vents at the bottom of the kettle. Close the damper so you can cut the oxygen supply off the coals.

2. If you want to make the process be faster or save the coal from burning out, you can spray them with water and then suffocate the fire.

3. When cool, you can pack the leftover in a paper bag (the bread bag can also be fine), close it tightly, and keep them for the next time you need to use the grill again.

When needed again, depending on your need, you can use the charcoals or add some fresh charcoal for a longer burn time.

Other ways of reusing charcoal

Charcoal is nothing more than a combustion product that originates from the carbonization of wood Trusted Source Charcoal - Wikipedia Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon residue produced by strongly heating wood (or other animal and plant materials) in minimal oxygen to remove all water and volatile constituents. . During this process, the transformation of an organic vegetable compound, i.e., wood, into an inorganic compound, i.e., coal, takes place. You can reuse them in the following ways.

1. For skincare

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

The remains of the burnt charcoal can be used to regenerate the skin and heal some imperfections. Charcoal is also used for DIY masks.

It is an excellent help for psoriasis, mycoses, and scabies. For these, you can dissolve it in water (1 teaspoon for every 50 ml of water) and ingest it three times a day before meals.

It can purify the skin and eliminate toxins. You can prepare it in packs and leave it on the skin. It can also be used to cure insect bites and snake bites.

2. As fertilizer

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

The residue from the combustion of charcoal or other organic materials is very rich in mineral salts, and for this reason, man can use it as a fertilizer for plants of all kinds.

Fertilizing with a product of the earth means closing a perfect eco-compatible cycle. It is the same principle of recycling as compost. The high potassium content present in the coals from wood and shrubs is helpful after combustion. You can use it to fertilize and improve plant growth, protect plants from many diseases, and improve crops’ quality.

It benefits some crops such as raspberries, strawberry roses, fruit trees, and shrubs.

The charcoal or ash must, however, be derived from natural woods with no source of additives, paints, or chemicals. Fertilization with ash or charcoal components is not suitable for all types of soil. It is essential to know the soil characteristics and know if the cultivated plants need these minerals.

3. To strengthen the gums

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

Charcoal ash can be used as a mouthwash or as a toothpaste, especially if you have gingivitis problems.

4. As a pesticide

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

Charcoal ash is a natural pesticide. It is also used in the countryside to counteract fungal attacks and control parasitic attacks. For remote purposes, it is used in organic crops. It is dissolved in water and sprayed on the leaves to protect the plant from slugs and other worms.

5. Ash for the hens

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

The ash in the countryside is also used in the chicken coops for the so-called “sand bath,” a daily ritual performed by the chicken.

In practice, the hen that lives outdoors carries out this activity. While practicing this, the chicken throws itself in the earth on itself, roll in it to get rid of the annoying pollen mites that are chicken mites and other critters. This is a natural cleansing activity.

6. To polish silverware

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

Ash mixed with water, and baking soda is an excellent product for polishing silverware.

You can also use the lye produced from the ash, but it is always recommended to mix it with a little warm water and lemon juice.

7. The lye soap

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

In the past, grandmothers used only homemade soap with lye, which must come from quality ash, that is, natural wood. This is cooked together with vegetable or animal fat to create the bar of soap to use for the laundry.

8. Ash for healing

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

The ash from the past times has been used by man for its healing properties, to cure diseases. In particular, it’s beneficial for indigestion, heart disease, neuropsychic diseases, alcoholism, hypoglycemia, muscle weakness, asthma, and more.

The peasants pressed ash on the body in the case of burns, wounds, and muscle pain. For hemorrhoids, compresses made with ash from vine leaves are recommended.

Against migraines, hot foot baths were made with salt and ash to reactivate the circulation of blood from head to toe.

9. To deodorize

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

Ash has disinfectant properties and can be used in the case of excessive perspiration. You can use it in your shoes. You can sprinkle dry ash in shoes to eliminate bad smells.

Ash can be used as a modified dehumidifier. That is, it can draw moisture from the air. So, it can be used to neutralize unpleasant odors due to humidity. Place a full box of them in the closet, fridge, or cellar to eliminate bad smells. The effect wears off in 15-20 days.

10. As an antifreeze

Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

In case of ice or even snow, sprinkle it on the roads: it is not as effective as salt, but it facilitates the melting of the ice in an emergency.

It can also be spread around the wheels to facilitate cars’ traction during the cold winter months.

Useful tips

  • To reuse charcoal, make sure it’s totally dry, especially when you extinguish it by spraying water. It would help if you also stored it properly in a bag to remain in usable condition. Otherwise, it may not light up quickly the next time you need it.
  • To reuse a charcoal product again, we advise that you choose a product made from hardwood. And the bag should be reusable or resealable for safe storage of the repacked charcoal. For this, grill masters recommend the Jealous Devil – JEALOUSDEVILOAK Charcoal. The pack is reusable, and the charcoal is derived from burnt south American hardwoods with no chemicals.
  • Charcoal ash does contain trace elements and minerals that are valuable for plants. However, heavy metals and chlorinated hydrocarbons are also among the ingredients. This is why it should only be used in small quantities and not all year round.
  • For the ash to be reused for agriculture, the charcoal must be produced by the combustion of natural materials such as wood or pellets without chemicals, paint, or other additives. You can know the charcoal is natural from the manufacturer. For example, one of the most recommended 100% natural charcoal is the Kingsford Professional Charcoal Briquettes. The ash is non-toxic and can be reused in agriculture safely.

Reusing charcoal: FAQCan You Reuse Lump Charcoal and Briquettes? – Approved Methods

How do I collect used charcoal properly?

The trick to collecting used charcoal is to extinguish it naturally. The first method is to simply close all vents to cut off air circulation, then close the shroud of your grill and let it sit for 48 hours to let everything cool down completely.  You can also put out the burning coals by spraying them lightly with water to speed up the process, but don’t soak them.

Make sure that the charcoal dries completely before collecting it.  Next, use a wire mesh screen or a sift ash basket to separate the charcoal from the ashes and knock off all the ash, leaving behind all the black pieces.

How should I store my old charcoal?

Old charcoal lights up very easily, but it needs to be stored properly to preserve it in this condition. It needs to be stored in a cool, dry place with low humidity. The best way to do this is to put the charcoal back into an empty charcoal bag or other airtight plastic container and seal it until you need it. Store the bag in a cool and dry place, especially away from your garage or basement if it tends to be moist.

While lump wood charcoal has no danger of igniting spontaneously like coal, store it away from heat sources or simply put it back into your closed grill.

How do I start my charcoal grill with used charcoal?

Lighting your grill with recycled charcoal should be as easy as using all-new charcoal; it just needs to be dry and in good condition. The big problem, though, is that the small chunks of reused charcoal can restrict airflow and become a non-starter.

Make sure that your fuel charge is at least half new charcoal and the rest being old charcoal, and make sure to distribute it uniformly. It is a good idea to put down the new charcoal first and top it up with the old charcoal to maximize airflow.

Which is better for reusing: lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes?

Lump charcoal made from hardwood lumber is best for reusing. That’s because it is naturally harder and resists breaking down, which means you will have larger pieces of leftover charcoal. Charcoal briquettes break down easily when burning, which leaves very little to reuse efficiently.

Poor quality briquettes may also have harmful additives such as lighter fluid that degrades after burning, making them potentially toxic to reuse. It is better to safely discard burnt charcoal briquettes, but you can reuse hardwood lump charcoal as much as you wish.

Final thoughts

Can you reuse charcoal? This question is asked very often. In our opinion, you can answer this question with both YES and NO.

Whether you can use charcoal several times depends very much on the quality of the charcoal. Some grill briquettes not only have a long burn time of up to four hours in some cases. So, if, for example, you were only able to use them for two hours, then you can also use them a second time.

In the worst case, you have to add more charcoal. But, still, it saves you more time. And after reusing, the ash is quite useful and very versatile at home and in the garden.


Charcoal - Wikipedia
Charcoal is a lightweight black carbon residue produced by strongly heating wood (or other animal and plant materials) in minimal oxygen to remove all water and volatile constituents.

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