Can You Reuse Charcoal?

The short answer is yes you can reuse charcoal. First, let’s talk about the limitations of reuse charcoal grilling itself.

Charcoal is a very porous material, meaning it’s permeable to air, water, and other substances. That means that when you light up your charcoal, it will have holes in it that allow all of this to pass through it.

But, when you cook food on charcoal, the food will seal the holes in the charcoal and absorb water from the air and other substances as well as moisture from within the food itself. This creates a barrier between the air and your food that can cause some problems for some people using a charcoal grill for cooking.

Your Old Charcoal Burn?

If you have some old charcoal around, you can test it. Simply take a piece of paper and put it on the charcoal. If it burns, then your charcoal is still good. If not, then you know that your old charcoal has absorbed too much water from the air and other substances and has lost its ability to burn.

However, this does not mean that your old charcoal should be thrown out! You can use it for something else. It may just be a little more work to get the food onto your grill or smoker.

You can also try using an old piece of metal such as a tin can or a steel wool pad to seal up the holes in your old charcoal. This will seal them off from oxygen so they will no longer absorb moisture from the air and other substances, allowing them to burn again with little difficulty.

You can also use an aluminum foil packet to close off the holes when cooking with your new pieces of charcoal:

If you are using a stove-top smoker, you can also use foil packets to close off the holes in your charcoal. Of course, you will need to add some kind of heat source to your smoker as well.

Charcoal Grilling Tips

Charcoal grilling is all about control. The best way to get control is to have a good understanding of your grill and how it works so that you know what temperatures are possible and what temperatures are not possible. You also have to have good weather conditions when you are cooking so that you can get full control over the temperature as well as be able to cook without having any wind blowing on your food (or if it is windy, at least keep your grill sheltered).

Using Charcoal on a Gas Grill

Before you light your charcoal, make sure that you have turned off the gas to your grill and it is set to “OFF” or “CLEAR.” Be sure that the lid is closed and locked.

You will want to use a charcoal chimney with your charcoal, so the lid must be closed at all times. If you do not have a chimney, then you can find them in most hardware stores.

For example, I have one made from a metal coffee can with holes drilled in it. It fits perfectly inside my Weber kettle and clamps down on top of the charcoal grate for me.

Once you are ready to start grilling, open up your grill and remove the lid of your gas grill so that there is no wind coming through the vents or around your food while it is cooking (or if it is windy, then shelter your food as much as possible). You can also use aluminum foil.


There are many advantages to using reused charcoal grilling instead of gas grilling. Charcoal grilling is much easier on the environment, as you do not have to use propane or other gases to heat your grill. Charcoal also retains heat better than any other fuel source, so you can get a nice high temperature for a long time without having to constantly replenish the fire with more charcoal.


Q:  What is the best charcoal for grilling?

A: The best charcoal for grilling is hardwood charcoal. It has a higher heat capacity and produces more smoke than briquettes or lump charcoal.

Q: What type of wood should I not use for making my charcoal?

A: You definitely want to avoid using anything that is too wet. For example, you do not want to use alder or willow because the willow tends to smolder and the alder burns very quickly.

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