How long does charcoal last?

In this article, I will share answers to common grill master questions like how long does charcoal last?
Can charcoal go bad and how can you revive bad charcoal? And everything else you want to know about charcoal.

How long does charcoal last

How long does charcoal last?

In these times of inflation, propane may not be the pocket friendly option for grilling in the market.
Don’t let that stop you from grilling and use charcoal instead!
Most charcoal last 2-3 hours but it depends on a number of factors like the type of charcoal, cooking time, cooking method, quantity and type of meat, and your grilling tool of choice.
Charcoal briquettes burn for twice the amount of time but such charcoal can go bad after a while due to additives. It lasts longer in an oxygen restricted environment and may not expire if it doesn’t come in contact with moisture.

Lump charcoal vs. Charcoal briquettes:

Charcoal is basically charred wood and the amount and kind of additives added to it define its burn time.
Basically, how long charcoal last depends on a number of variables.

Hardwood charcoal is in itself lump charcoal whereas briquettes are charcoal that has additives in it.
Briquettes may have borax, some fuel material, or any other binding agent in it and last longer than lump charcoal. This difference in volume ratio depends on the burn time of both these types of charcoal.

Charcoal briquettes

How long does lump charcoal last?

Lump charcoal lasts for half the amount of time as briquettes. If you plan to use lump charcoal for grilling, remember that you will need half the volume more than briquettes.

It is also smokier which is why purebred grill masters love to go with the organic lump option.

How long do briquettes last?

The volume ratio of briquettes vs. lump is 1:1.5 kg. Add to that, the fact that briquettes have additives in them to make them last longer.

This is the reason why a kg of briquettes can last 3-4 hours, whereas, 1
and half kg would give you 1-2 hours of burn time.

how long does a charcoal grill stay hot?

A number of variables are important to understand to have a great yet economical grilling experience.
Your grill, type of charcoal, outside temperature, and oxygen levels can affect how long charcoal stays hot and burn.

  1. Type of Charcoal:
    Lump charcoal burns faster than briquettes, hence, use briquettes to get more cook time.
    For a smokey flavor, use lump charcoal instead but the cooking time will also increase.
    Remember, the more additives there are in briquettes; the faster they will burn out.
  2. Oxygen restricted grill environment:
    Grilling under a closed lid restricts the oxygen, which slows down the charcoal burn rate and makes charcoal last longer. An open grill will make charcoal burn faster with the wind blowing over it. Less oxygen means less heat; hence, they are best for low and slow cooks.

How long does charcoal last in a smoker?

Charcoal smokers cook mouth watering meat for meat lovers. A charcoal smoker consists of a firebox where the coal burns, a water pan above that to generate steam and increase cooking time, a cooking chamber where food cooks, and a lid to keep the smoke inside.

Charcoal smokers cook meat slowly at a consistent temperature.
A 15 kilograms bag of charcoal can last around for 15 hours within a charcoal smoker. Most grill masters add wood chunks of their choice during the cooking process to make charcoal last even longer.

How long does charcoal last? can also be increased by adding wet wood chunks which keep the temperature low and steady.
Tips for increasing charcoal burning time:
How long does charcoal stay hot can be determined by how well the fire is kept up. If you are a newbie to cooking with charcoal, it is important to understand the cooking process.

  1. Charcoal in a smoker can stay hot for an hour or even longer with the right procedure.
  2. How long does charcoal stay hot depends on whether it started off on high or medium heat. At high heat levels, charcoal would stay hot for a long time before burning out.
  3. Continuously feeding the fire will also ensure that the charcoal stays hot for a longer time and does not die out. Keep burning wood chips, lumps, or briquettes inconsistent and in small amounts to keep the fire going.
  4. You can also use lighter fluid to make sure charcoal stays hot and keeps burning. Be cautious of the highly flammable liquid. Only sprinkle it a little and evenly.
  5. Oxygen means more heat so remember to open the lids or vents frequently for proper airflow for charcoals to stay hot longer.
  6. Paper is a source of fuel which can be consistent and also be placed evenly so the paper is definitely a great alternative for charcoal to stay hot longer as well.
  7. Ashes in the burner can restrict airflow which charcoal needs to keep burning. So, remember to clean out the ashes frequently.
  8. The most important step is to give charcoal time to reach the required temperature. Do not close the lid so your fire can grow stronger, breathe and help the charcoal reach the optimal temperature.
  9. A grill master never leaves his/her charcoal unchecked and unmoved. Keep moving the coal around for them to burn longer and evenly. This also helps with managing airflow.

Even after all these alternatives, there will be times when it will be inevitable for you to add more charcoal. Keep track of how much more charcoal you are feeding and make sure to do it at regular intervals to avoid using too much charcoal.

Does Lump Charcoal go bad?

There are no additives in lump charcoal and, perhaps, it is the most organic charcoal on the market. It
generates very less ash and even if it gets wet, it can surely ignite to get your smoker and grill going.

Do Charcoal Briquettes go bad?

Briquettes, due to additives in them, lose shape if they become moist and are most troublesome to light up. Just like any charcoal, they also need to be kept away from moisture in a cool, dry place. This means that you have to make sure it is stored in a place in your house where moisture cannot reach and also
the temperatures do not fluctuate.
However, charcoal does not go wrong so easily. Dylan Clay from BarbequeFAQ did an experiment regarding this.

He took two briquettes and soaked them in water for around two hours. Then he took four more and put them in a Ziploc bag with some water.

He placed both specimens under the sun for two hours further. Then he took all of them out and ignited them in his smoker.

Guess what? They still ignited. Yes, there was some white smoke at the start but the charcoal still lit up. The resulting temperature was low as well of course.

How long does charcoal last in the bag?

If zipped properly, charcoal can last without any damage at all. But if exposed to moisture, its burning efficiency can be greatly reduced. Charcoal can last for many years in a bag or large container.

Does charcoal go bad in containers? Many of them accumulate moisture as well so be sure to buy airtight containers for longer shelf life of charcoal.

Does Charcoal Expire?

The expiration of charcoal does not exist. Research done by various charcoal producers uncovered information that there is no expiry date. Charcoal kept properly in cool and dry conditions, away from humidity and extreme temperatures can last for a lifetime.
Can damp charcoal be re-used?
If your charcoal becomes too wet, you may not be able to dry it out. However, if its just a little damp you can spread it out on baking paper, and place it under the sunlight for a few days to completely dry it out.

Although, moist charcoal can never be able to retain its original quality, however, it can still be used.

Its heat might be lower and it may talk longer to catch fire. Damp briquettes lose their form; hence, they will be more troublesome to light up as compared to damp lump charcoal.

How to store charcoal properly?

  1. Use a plastic or metal charcoal dispenser that is waterproof and has a strong seal for storing charcoal. If the bag they come in is dry, you can place that within the container for storage.
  2. Find the best spot for storage as well. A covered garage or shed works as the best storage location for charcoal.
  3. If you live in a humid environment, it is all the more important to find the best storage spot in a well-sealed container.
    It is always best to make sure your charcoal has not gone bad before you get ready to grill. Do not set yourself up for a grilling failure and always check your charcoal for a delicious food experience.

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