Charcoal grills don’t have an off switch, meaning they can remain lit, waste fuel, and be a heat hazard that can put others in danger.
If you have a charcoal grill, you must understand how to put it out safely. We’ll cover how to do so in this post, including what to do with the coals once you’ve finished using them and what to do in the case of an emergency.
Keep reading to learn how to put out a charcoal grill!
Why Is It Important To Extinguish A Charcoal Grill?
You may have finished grilling your food with a charcoal grill, but you won’t have finished using the grill until the lit charcoal lumps have been extinguished.
This can take a lot of time, sometimes hours, if you’ve used a lot of charcoal. As you leave the charcoal lumps to die down, the flames and heat can pose a hazard for pets, children, your home, and unaware adults.
Hot grill burns can be serious. Just a few lit charcoal lumps can make your wood decking or grass catch fire. As you’re probably using the grill outside, there’s a risk of an animal running into it and pouring hot coals in the vicinity.
Leaving charcoal to burn out also releases unwanted carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into the air. You’re also wasting lumps of charcoal that could have been used again.
Charcoal can remain hot for a whole day and even longer in some cases. You risk starting a fire if you attempt to dispose of coals that aren’t fully extinguished.
How To Safely Put Out Charcoal Grills
Follow these steps to put out a charcoal grill safely. Remember to remain vigilant and use caution throughout this process.
1. Place The Lid On The Grill And Close The Vents.
Charcoal requires oxygen to burn. Putting the lid on the grill and closing the vents means the charcoal cannot stay lit after it burns up the excess air on the inside.
2. Wait For The Charcoal To Go Out.
You will need to wait between 4 and 8 hours for this and ensure that the grill has cooled down. This is a long time, but this is important to ensure that all the remaining embers have died. Keep the grill out of harm’s way or block it off to avoid problems later.
3. Remove The Ash And Charcoal.
If there is an ash dump on your grill, use it to remove as much ash as you can. Collect it in a metal container, not a plastic one.
Scoop any leftover charcoal and ash from the bottom of the grill. Collecting the matter in a big aluminum foil sheet is a good idea. Wrap the charcoal and ash in the foil, then place them in a metal ashcan. This can prevent any remaining live embers from setting fire to anything.
4. Collect Any Reusable Charcoal.
If you notice any charcoal pieces that seem like they can be reused, take them out before you dispose of the rest. Place the charcoal in your grill again, or put them in a fireproof container for later use. Always use metal tongs to be on the safe side.
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Can You Put Out A Charcoal Grill With Water?
Water might put out a fire, and pouring water over coals will extinguish them, but this doesn’t mean you should do so.
Some disagree that water is perfectly safe to extinguish lit charcoal fast. However, we’d recommend not using water for the following reasons:
- Pouring cold water into a hot grill can generate a thermal shock that damages your grill
- Produces a large steam cloud that can burn others in the vicinity
- The water may wash still-lit coals out of the grill into the area
The water can also mix with other substances to make a muddy mess on the grill. If this substance hardens, it can clog up the grill’s vents, lead to stuck dampers, and leave a larger clean-up job on your hands.
It’s best only to use water if you have to pack the grill up and go ASAP. For instance, if you’re out camping, use the smallest amount of water necessary, then collect the leftover mess in a metal container to transport it safely.
Things To Do In An Emergency
It might be rare, but grill fires can get out of control, even small ones used in a barbeque.
This is usually the result of grease from the food coming into contact with the lit charcoal. A flare-up is known when food grease makes flames soar up from the fire pit.
You can get flare-ups under control easily as long as you know what you should and shouldn’t do.
If you notice a fire getting out of hand, the first thing to be aware of is never to throw water on it. Water on a grease fire will lead to flaming grease spilling everywhere, increasing the intensity of the fire.
It’s best to place the grill’s cover back on it to remove the oxygen supply and extinguish the flames. Be very careful and use heat-resistant gloves.
Get your extinguisher to smother the fire if you cannot do this. All grilling enthusiasts should have a fire extinguisher close by.
It’s worth saving any charcoal that can be used again, but your grill may continue to burn after you’ve covered it and closed its vents.
You can follow the steps below to save more of the charcoal lumps.
- Pour cold water into a metal bucket.
- Wear heat-resistant gloves and take your metal tongs.
- Extract a piece of charcoal with the tongs.
- Submerge the charcoal in the water for a minute.
- Place the quenched coal in a non-flammable location.
- Repeat for each briquette you’d like to save, then leave to dry in the sun.
- Please keep them in a fireproof container once they have fully dried.
Note that this method might not work with cheaper briquettes, as these might break down when wet.
The Bottom Line
Now you know how to put out a charcoal grill safely!
Remember to use extreme caution when using your grill and to keep pets and children well away from the area.
Wear heat protection when necessary and keep a fire extinguisher nearby if it calls for it. It’s better to be safe than sorry!