Most Effective Ways to Put Out Charcoal Grill

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
Expert Consultant
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 31, 2023
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Nothing tastes like food that has been cooked on a charcoal grill but, when you’re done cooking, it’s important to make sure you take care of the hot charcoal correctly. Improperly extinguishing a charcoal grill can have dire consequences, including damage to your grill, fires, and steam burns. Read on to find out how to put out a charcoal grill the right way.

General way to put out charcoal grill

There are several steps to extinguish a charcoal grill properly and the truth is that it may be a little more involved than you thought it would be. The truth is that this is not a quick and easy process. Still, it’s important to be as safe as possible and following the proper procedure is very important. Here is how to put out a charcoal grill the right way:

  1. Most Effective Ways to Put Out Charcoal GrillPut on heat-proof oven mitts to protect yourself as you work with the charcoal grill. You must not skip this step. Charcoal stays hot for a very long time and any ashes and embers that fly off throughout the process can burn you or cause a fire nearby.
  2. Remove the rack from the grill and set aside. Close the lid. If the lid has vents, make sure they are also closed. This makes sure that no oxygen gets into the grill which can keep the embers burning.
  3. Leave the grill with the lid in place and vents closed for at least 48 hours. This may seem like a long time but, believe it or not, charcoal can continue to burn this long. There is a chance that it can reignite so it’s important to let it sit long enough to be sure that the fire has completely gone out.
  4. After a minimum of 48 hours have passed and you are 100% certain that everything is cool remove the ashed and briquettes. You may have your own method but the easiest way to do this is to use a metal bucket to scoop up the ashes. Do not use plastic as there may still be some embers glowing which would melt the plastic. Slowly dump them onto a large piece of aluminum foil on the ground. When all of the ashes are removed, fold up the foil to keep them contained.
  5. Use tongs to move the foil to a metal garbage can. Any embers that remain can burn or melt a plastic garbage can so be sure to avoid them.
  6. After the grill has been properly cleaned, return any cold briquettes to the grill using a pair of tongs.

Note: You must not pour or spray water directly onto the charcoal if there are any signs of heat or if 48 hours have not passed. When coal burns, it gets extremely hot which means that the grill itself also gets extremely hot. Pouring water onto hot coals and therefore a hot grill can not only cause the grill to crack but also send dangerous amounts of hot steam into the air. That said, it’s always a good idea to keep a garden hose or fire extinguisher nearby when extinguishing your grill and removing the briquettes just in case an ember drops into your yard and starts a fire.

How to put out a charcoal grill without a lid

If your charcoal grill doesn’t have a lid, it’s important to proceed safely. Here are instructions for how to put out a charcoal grill without a lid:

  1. Put on heat-proof oven mitts to protect yourself throughout the process. This is extremely important as you will be getting up close and person with the charcoal and you need to make sure you are protecting yourself.
  2. Remove the rack from the grill and set aside.
  3. Since there is no lid, there is no way to stop oxygen from getting to the burning charcoal which means it will continue to burn until it is extinguished or moved to another receptacle. And, remember, you cannot just dump water onto the embers as doing so could crack the surface of the grill or send large amounts of dangerous hot steam into the air. You can lightly spray the surface of the charcoal with water if desired but this won’t have much of an effect as the bottom of the briquettes will remain just as hot.
  4. Use a pair of long-handled tongs to remove the briquettes from the bottom of the grill, one at a time. Then, you have two options. One is to place the hot briquettes into a separate metal container with a lid. Once they are all moved, close the lid to cut off the oxygen supply and wait 48 hours before wrapping the ashes in foil and discarding them into a metal garbage can. The other option is to dip each briquette into a bucket of water to stop it from burning then discard into a metal bucket. Again, wait 48 hours, wrap in foil, and then discard into a metal garbage can.

Note that while it is possible to use and extinguish a grill without a lid, it’s not recommended. A lot of people experienced with cooking on a charcoal grill would argue that a lid is essential. It helps maintain the temperature and can make your food taste even better. But the main reason is that extinguishing a charcoal grill using this method is not as safe as it would be with a lid. You’re using tongs to move extremely hot charcoal, one piece at a time. There is a good chance that one might drop or an ask or ember can break off and start a fire on in your yard. If you don’t have a lid for your charcoal grill, replacement parts are available from most manufacturers.

Most Effective Ways to Put Out Charcoal GrillConclusion

Once you’re done using your charcoal grill, it’s important to make sure to extinguish it the right way. Remember, you cannot just dump water onto the hot charcoal. This could not only crack and damage the inside of your grill but it can also send a large amount of hot steam into the air which can burn you or your guests.

The best way to extinguish a charcoal grill is by using the lid. Most if not all charcoal grills come with a lid. If you don’t have one, we recommend getting a replacement to make sure you’re being as safe as possible.

Using a lid is particularly effective because it cuts off the air supply to the charcoal, stopping the flame from burning. Keep in mind that the briquettes themselves can continue to burn for up to 48 hours after the grill was extinguished. While it may seem excessive to have to wait this long to deal with the briquettes, it is the safest approach.

There is a controlled way to extinguish a charcoal grill without a lid but extreme safety precautions have to be used as it essentially involves removing hot charcoal from the bottom of the grill one briquette at a time. Again, this is not the ideal approach but, if you don’t have a lid, it is the best way to proceed.

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