There’s nothing better than eating a charcoal-grilled meal out in the yard with your family and friends. But when the steaks are done and everyone’s full, you need to turn off the grill. Every type of grill is different, but it’s especially important to turn off a charcoal grill (more on this later). Learning how to put out a charcoal grill is pretty easy if we do say so ourselves. 

How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill

However, you will need a lot of time and patience to do it properly. We’ve described three different methods to put out your grill, along with the pros and cons of each method. But before that, let’s discuss why it’s so important — How to Put Out a Grill Fire .

Why You Need to Put Out Your Charcoal Grill

Many people think that grilling meat and vegetables are the challenging part of making a grilled meal. Likewise, many grilling enthusiasts announce that lighting or starting a charcoal grill is the more difficult one. But it’s not the end of your grilling game. Because you still need to cool down those lit coals. 

The charcoal will continue to burn till it’s extinguished if it’s not put out, which can take days. Walking away from the aftercare for your charcoal grill can lead to some terrible consequences. Here are a couple of instances:

● The grill could flare up into a grease fire, which could burn down quite a bit of your yard before you put it out. 

● It takes many long hours before a charcoal fire burns out. During this time, your family members, including kids or dogs, could come into contact with the still-hot grill and get burnt.

● If your grill gets knocked over and the hot coals land on a flammable surface like dry grass or a wood deck, you could have a fire emergency on your hand.

● You may surprised that you’re releasing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the air, which is not great for the environment.

● Quality charcoal is fairly expensive and can usually be used more than once. Waiting until the coals have burnt themselves to ash is wasteful when you can save some of that wood for your next grill.

Leaving a grill on isn’t any good for anyone, but it’s especially unsafe for your family members. Now, let’s get into the meat of this article: learning how to turn off a charcoal grill.

How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill: Three Methods

There are hundreds of thousands of articles that teach you how to extinguish charcoal grill. But you only need a couple of methods to guide you through damping the fires of a charcoal grill in any situation. We’ve outlined these methods carefully. By the time you’re done reading this, there shouldn’t be a charcoal grill that you can’t turn off.

Method # 01

The General Way

Equipment:

  • Long grill tongs
  • A bucket of water and soap
  • Heatproof BBQ gloves
  • Aluminum foil
  • A metallic grill spatula
  • Class B, K, or ABC fire extinguisher
  • A wire brush
  • Ash removal bucket (optional)

Step #1

Get prepared for putting out your grill by slipping on those heatproof BBQ gloves. Make sure that other people are standing a ways off. Now, remove the grill rack, close the vents, and then cover the grill slowly. This starves the fire of oxygen, allowing it to burn itself out. 

You’ll leave the grill covered for at least the next 48 hours. Coals take a long time to cool down, and they aren’t always burning clearly. Giving them enough time to burn down is crucial for safety. 

Step #2

Once 48 hours are up, you can open up your grill and remove the leftover charcoal and ash. Use your metal spatula to scoop them onto a sheet of aluminum foil. If you have an ash removal bucket, you can use the bucket to gather up the ash and then pour it onto a foil sheet. 

Next, take your metal long tongs and separate the larger leftover charcoal pieces to another aluminum sheet. Then, carefully wrap up the ash to be disposed of in yet another piece of aluminum foil and throw it away in a metal trash can. A metal trash can is best because a leftover ember can cause the plastic to melt, and there’s always a risk of flare-ups. 

If you don’t have a metal trash can, you have two alternatives. One, give your charcoal more time to cool before scooping it out. And two, our second method of learning how to put out charcoal grill, which we’ll get to in just a little bit. 

Step #3

After the leftover charcoal and ash have been taken care of, you need to clean up your grill. Some people may decide to stop at step two, but we think it’s important to set yourself up for your next cookout. 

Clean out the leftover ash with your metallic grill spatula. If you don’t have one, a trowel can work. Then use a towel to wipe off any leftovers. While doing this, pay special attention to the vents. They can accumulate a lot of dirt from blowing ash and need to be clean, so they can let in enough oxygen to feed your fire.

Step #4

The lower parts of the grill will need a wire brush, especially the grill. Clean the grates using a wire brush, soap, and water. When you’re done, you should use a silicone spray on the metallic parts. It serves as an anti-rusting agent and helps with lubrication, which will help to preserve your grill for a longer time. 

Step #5

Put the separated charcoal back into the grill using your tongs. Put the grill rack back on, close the lid, and you’re ready for your next BBQ.

Method # 02

The Thrifty Way

The next method, How to put out charcoal for reuse, is great if you want to save some of your charcoal. However, this method doesn’t work for briquettes because they’re a mixture of wood and bonds. Lumps are the more expensive fuel, so it’s more worthwhile to use this method on them. All the equipment used in our first method applies here, but you will need a baking sheet.

Step #1

Put on your heatproof BBQ gloves and get your tongs ready. Ensure the bucket of water (without soap) and the baking sheet is right next to you.

Use the tongs to lift one piece of charcoal and hold it under the water for 30 to 60 seconds. Go very slowly to make sure you don’t drop the charcoal on your skin or the ground. Once a minute is up, bring up the charcoal and put it on the baking sheet. Repeat this process for all the charcoal pieces. 

Step #2

Once you’re done with that process, scoop out the ash and put it in some aluminum foil. Wrap it carefully and dispose of it in a metal bin. Then, clean out your grill with a wire brush as described in method 1, steps #3 and #4.

Step #3 

Take the baking sheet with the charcoal and set it to dry in the sun. If you do not have a baking sheet and you’re using aluminum foil, be careful where you place the charcoal. Grass is the best option, then, because the wood or tiles of a patio or deck will get stained. 

Step #4

Depending on the weather, it might take a couple of days for the pieces to dry. Make sure you touch them to ascertain that they’re properly dried. When you’re sure they are, you can move them into a fireproof container or any metal box to await their next use. 

Method # 03

The Lidless Way

Although a lot of modern grills now have retractable lids, some older models only have removable ones. Those can get lost or broken more easily, and it’s not too uncommon to see an older charcoal grill without a lid. If you want to learn how to put out a charcoal grill without a lid, here’s how.

Step #1

Get those heatproof BBQ gloves on and grab your tongs. Remove the grill rack and set it aside. 

Step #2

Use your long-handled tongs to pick up a piece of charcoal. Be extremely careful as the charcoal hasn’t cooled at all yet. Next, you have two choices. 

You can choose to drop your charcoal into a metal container with a lid, cover it, and leave it to cool for at least two days. Or you can choose to douse it before putting it in the lidded metal can and leaving it to cool. The better, safer choice is the second, but you can always go with the first if you’re in a hurry.

Step #3

When the charcoal has cooled, pour it out of the metal container and into a sheet of aluminum foil along with the cooled ash from the grill. Wrap it up gently and throw it away. 

If you think this method is too stressful, you can look into purchasing replacement lids.

Can’t I just douse the charcoal with water?

Of course. But you really shouldn’t. Here are a couple of reasons why.

1.   In most cases, only the top charcoal pieces get put out. There will still be some burning away underneath, which can still pose a danger.

2.   The sudden cloud of hot steam and water can cause steam burns or scalds.

3.   The sudden temperature switch between hot and cold can cause cracks to form in your cooker.

4.   The water will turn the ash into a thick sludge that’s a pain to clean.

The only time where it’s okay to pour water on charcoal is if you’re grilling in an open charcoal pit in an open space like a campground.

Conclusion

Learning how to put out a charcoal grill isn’t hard, but it is dangerous. Remember to keep a fire extinguisher nearby while you’re cleaning and be extremely careful when handling hot charcoal. The key to successfully putting out a charcoal grill lies in patience and caution. Your reward for all this hard work is a beautifully clean grill whenever you’re ready to barbecue and a long-lasting grill.

Johnny Trigg
Johnny TriggView all Posts

He’s the founder of BBQchickenUSA.com and also the owner of two barbecue restaurants. He’s passionate about reviewing, providing useful tips about BBQ Smokers, and known as BBQ Pitmaster.

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