Ask the Experts: How Can I Dispose of Charcoal?

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Q: How Can I Dispose of Charcoal? Can it be Reused or Repurposed?

A: We all know what summer means: It’s time to get grilling! How is it that food cooked over fire always tastes better? If you’re grilling with charcoal, make sure you follow these instructions to dispose of leftover coals and ashes safely.

How to Dispose of Charcoal

Allow ashes to cool for 48 hours, or pour water onto them and stir thoroughly to speed up the process. After the ashes have fully cooled, wrap them in aluminum foil or place them in a small metal container, such as a coffee can. Then dispose of them in an outdoor trash bin. Do not place ashes or coals near anything that could catch fire.

Fires are commonly started because coals are not fully cooled before being thrown into the garbage. When hot coals are tossed out, the garbage bin can catch fire and in some cases even cause damage to the residence.

How to Reuse Charcoal

Want to put used charcoal to good use before tossing it? You can grill with charcoal more than once! Simply follow these steps:

  1. Once coals have cooled (see above), rake through used charcoal to dislodge extra ash.
  2. Empty loose ash from the grill.
  3. Add half the amount of new charcoal you would normally use to start the grill.
  4. Light the charcoal. Wait 5-10 minutes before adding food to the grill.

How to Repurpose Charcoal

If you have some unused charcoal lying around and you don’t know when you’ll ever use it, try giving it away on Facebook, Nextdoor or Craigslist.

If your charcoal is additive-free, you can repurpose the coals to prevent tools in your toolbox from rusting. You can also use it in your fridge or a smelly pair of gym shoes to eliminate odor. These ideas and more are explained in this neat article.