From Moisture to Mold: How to Store Charcoal and Keep it in Top Condition

Grilling with charcoal is an age-old practice that brings out your food’s distinct flavor and aroma. However, accurately storing charcoal can save your barbeque and lead to a subpar experience. From humidity to unwanted odors, there are various issues you need to be mindful of while storing charcoal.

Fear not, as this guide will cover everything you need to know about how to store charcoal to ensure it stays dry, fresh, and ready to use for your next barbecue.

Understanding Charcoal

Before we dive into the specifics of how to store charcoal, it’s important to understand the different types of charcoal and what sets them apart. This knowledge will help you select the right type of charcoal for your needs and store it properly.

Types of Charcoal

  • Lump charcoal: This charcoal is made by burning wood in a low-oxygen environment until it becomes charred. Lump charcoal is the most natural and pure charcoal and produces very little ash.
  • Briquettes: Briquettes are made by compressing charcoal powder and other additives, such as sawdust, into uniform shapes. They burn longer and at a more consistent temperature than lump charcoal but produce more ash and can contain chemical additives.
  • Hardwood charcoal: This charcoal is made by burning hardwoods, such as oak or hickory, in a low-oxygen environment. It is similar to lump charcoal but is typically made from larger pieces of wood, which can make it more difficult to light.

Charcoal Shelf Life

Charcoal, when stored properly, can last for years. However, over time, charcoal can absorb moisture from the air, which can cause it to break down and become less effective. Charcoal that has absorbed too much moisture may also produce excessive smoke and a foul odor when lit.

Factors to Consider When Storing Charcoal

When storing charcoal, you must consider several factors to ensure that it remains in good condition and is ready to use when needed. These factors include moisture levels, temperature, airflow, and sunlight.

Moisture Levels 

Moisture is one of the main enemies of charcoal. Moisture can cause the charcoal to become damp, making it difficult to light and causing it to produce more ash. It can also cause mold and mildew to grow, harming the charcoal and your health.

You must prevent moisture damage. So it’s essential to store charcoal in a dry place. You can use an airtight storage container or a tight-fitting lid to keep out moisture. You can also use moisture-absorbing products like silica gel packets or activated charcoal to help absorb any moisture that might be present in the storage container.

Temperature 

Temperature is another crucial factor to consider when storing charcoal. High temperatures can cause the charcoal to ignite or burn, while low temperatures can make it difficult to light. Extreme temperature changes can also cause the charcoal to expand or contract, leading to breakage.

The ideal temperature for storing charcoal is between 35 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the charcoal may ignite or become too dry to use. On the other hand, if the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the charcoal may freeze and become difficult to light.

To maintain the right temperature, you should store charcoal in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat sources like heaters, stoves, or ovens. You can also use a storage container that provides insulation to help regulate the temperature inside the container.

Airflow and Ventilation 

Airflow and ventilation are essential to prevent mold and mildew growth, especially if you’re storing charcoal for an extended period. Proper ventilation allows air to circulate the charcoal and prevents moisture from building inside the container.

To promote good airflow and ventilation, use a storage container with air vents or holes that allow air to circulate. You can also place the charcoal in a wire basket or mesh bag to improve airflow.

Sunlight 

Direct sunlight can cause the charcoal to dry out and become brittle, making it more challenging to light. It can also cause the charcoal to lose its potency and produce more ash. To prevent sunlight damage, store charcoal in a cool, dry place. Keep them away from windows or direct sunlight.

Using a storage container with a lid or covering the charcoal with a cloth or tarp can help protect it from the sun’s rays. You can also store the charcoal in a shaded area, such as a garage or storage shed.

By considering these factors and taking the necessary precautions, you can store charcoal correctly and ensure that it remains dry, clean, and ready to use whenever you need it.

How to Store Charcoal

Now that you have a basic understanding of charcoal and factors to consider before the storing process. It’s time to learn how to store it properly. Here are some tips to ensure your charcoal stays dry, fresh, and ready to use.

Choose the Right Location

The first step in storing charcoal is to choose the right location. You’ll want to find a dry, cool, and well-ventilated area. It could be a shed, garage, or covered patio. Avoid storing charcoal near any heat sources or in direct sunlight, which can cause it to dry out and become brittle.

Keep Charcoal in Its Original Packaging

Charcoal comes in various packaging, including paper and plastic bags. It’s best to keep the charcoal in its original packaging until you’re ready to use it. The packaging is designed to keep the charcoal dry and protected from moisture.

If you must transfer your charcoal to a new container, ensure it’s airtight and moisture-proof. A plastic storage bin or metal container with a tight-fitting lid can work well.

Keep Charcoal Dry

The most important aspect of storing charcoal is keeping it dry. Moisture can quickly ruin your charcoal and affect its performance. To keep your charcoal dry, follow these tips:

  • Store charcoal in a dry location away from any moisture sources.
  • Use charcoal within a year of purchasing it.
  • If storing charcoal for an extended period, consider using desiccants, such as silica gel packs, to absorb any excess moisture.
  • Avoid exposing charcoal to rain or snow; cover it with a tarp or waterproof cover if necessary.

Avoid Contamination

Contamination of charcoal can lead to its early degradation, rendering it unusable for grilling. Here are some tips to avoid contamination:

  • Store charcoal separately from lighter fluids, chemicals, or other substances.
  • Do not store charcoal near food, as it may absorb unwanted odors or flavors.
  • Avoid exposure to moisture or rain, as it may affect the quality of the charcoal.
  • Keep the storage area clean to prevent dirt and dust from contaminating the charcoal.

Best Practices for Storing Different Types of Charcoal

Different types of charcoal have different storage requirements. Here are some guidelines for storing different types of charcoal:

Briquettes

Briquettes are a popular type of charcoal due to their even burning and consistent heat. Here are some best practices for storing briquettes:

  • Store briquettes in a dry and covered area, away from moisture or humidity.
  • Keep briquettes in their original packaging or a sealed container to prevent exposure to air.
  • Avoid storing briquettes near open flames or heat sources, which could ignite the charcoal.

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is made from natural wood and is prized for its smoky flavor. Here are some best practices for storing lump charcoal:

  • Store lump charcoal in a dry and covered area to prevent exposure to moisture and humidity.
  • To allow airflow, keep lump charcoal in a breathable container, such as a burlap or paper bag.
  • Avoid storing lump charcoal near open flames or heat sources, which could ignite the charcoal.

Coconut Charcoal

Coconut charcoal is a type of lump charcoal made from coconut shells. It burns hotter and longer than other types of charcoal, making it popular among grill enthusiasts. Here are some best practices for storing coconut charcoal:

  • Store coconut charcoal in a dry and covered area, away from moisture or humidity.
  • Keep coconut charcoal in a breathable container, such as a burlap or paper bag, to allow airflow.
  • Avoid storing coconut charcoal near open flames or heat sources, which could ignite the charcoal.

Different Types of Charcoal Storage Containers

Regarding charcoal storage containers, there are several types available on the market. Choosing the right type of container for your needs is crucial to ensure the longevity and quality of your charcoal. Here are some of the most common types of charcoal storage containers:

Metal Storage Containers

Metal storage containers are one of the most popular charcoal storage containers. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, and they are typically made from aluminum or steel. Metal storage containers are highly durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. They are also relatively lightweight, making them easy to move around as needed. Additionally, metal storage containers often have airtight seals, which helps to keep your charcoal dry and protected from the elements.

Advantages of Metal Storage Containers:

  • Highly durable and long-lasting
  • Lightweight and easy to move around
  • Often have airtight seals to keep charcoal dry and protected
  • Resistant to rust and corrosion

Disadvantages of Metal Storage Containers:

  • It can be more expensive than other types of containers
  • It may get hot to the touch when exposed to direct sunlight
  • May dent or scratch over time

Plastic Storage Containers

Plastic storage containers are another popular option for storing charcoal. They are typically made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene (PP), both highly durable materials that can withstand a lot of wear and tear. Plastic storage containers are also lightweight and easy to move around, and they are available in various sizes and shapes.

Advantages of Plastic Storage Containers:

  • Highly durable and long-lasting
  • Lightweight and easy to move around
  • Often have airtight seals to keep charcoal dry and protected
  • Resistant to impact, corrosion, and rust
  • More affordable than metal containers

Disadvantages of Plastic Storage Containers:

  • It may not be as airtight as metal containers
  • They may be more susceptible to damage from UV light
  • May scratch or crack over time

Wooden Storage Containers

Wooden storage containers are a popular option for those who want a more natural and rustic look. They are typically made from cedar, a highly durable wood resistant to rot and insects. Wooden storage containers are available in various sizes and shapes. They are often designed with ventilation holes to allow air to circulate.

Advantages of Wooden Storage Containers:

  • The natural and rustic appearance
  • Highly durable and resistant to rot and insects
  • Available in a variety of sizes and shapes
  • Often designed with ventilation holes to allow air to circulate

Disadvantages of Wooden Storage Containers:

  • It may not be as airtight as metal or plastic containers
  • It may require regular maintenance to prevent rot or damage
  • It can be more expensive than plastic containers

Ceramic Storage Containers

Ceramic storage containers are a less common option for charcoal, but they are still available on the market. They are typically made from clay or porcelain and are often decorated with intricate designs. Ceramic storage containers are highly durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. They are also resistant to water and moisture, which makes them ideal for outdoor use.

Advantages of Ceramic Storage Containers:

  • Highly durable and long-lasting
  • Resistant to water and moisture
  • Often decorated with intricate designs
  • Ideal for outdoor use

Disadvantages of Ceramic Storage Containers:

  • It can be more fragile than other types of containers
  • It may be more expensive than plastic or wooden containers
  • It may not be as airtight as metal or plastic containers

In conclusion, several types of charcoal storage containers are available on the market, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. When choosing a container, it’s also important to consider your specific needs and preferences.

Tips for Storing Charcoal in Different Environments

Storing charcoal can be challenging, especially in an area with extreme weather conditions. The right storage technique depends on the environment you live in. Here are some tips for storing charcoal in different environments:

Storing charcoal in a Humid Environment 

It can be difficult to keep your charcoal dry if you live in a humid environment near the ocean or in the tropics. Here are some tips to help you store your charcoal in a humid environment:

  • Use an airtight container: Charcoal can absorb moisture from the air, so it’s important to store it in an airtight container. It will help to keep the moisture out and prevent your charcoal from getting wet.
  • Add a moisture absorber: You can add a moisture absorber, such as silica gel packets, to the container. It will help to absorb any moisture that does get into the container and prevent your charcoal from getting damp.
  • Keep the container off the ground: If possible, store your charcoal container off the ground to prevent it from absorbing moisture from the ground.

Storing charcoal in a Dry Environment 

Suppose you live in a dry environment, like a desert or a low-humidity area. In that case, it’s important to protect your charcoal from drying out too much. Here are some tips to help you store your charcoal in a dry environment:

  • Store the charcoal in a cool, dry place: It’s important to store your charcoal in a cool, dry place to prevent it from drying out too much. You can also cover your charcoal with a damp cloth to keep it from getting too dry.
  • Keep the container sealed: Make sure your container is sealed to prevent the charcoal from losing moisture. If the container is sealed, the charcoal can dry out quickly and become easier to light.
  • Add a water source: In extremely dry conditions, you can add a water source, such as a damp sponge, to the container. It will help to keep the humidity levels up and prevent your charcoal from drying out too much.

Storing charcoal in a Cold Environment 

If you live in a cold environment, like in the winter or a cold storage room, it’s important to protect your charcoal from freezing. Here are some tips to help you store your charcoal in a cold environment:

  • Store the charcoal in a dry place: Make sure to store it in a dry place to prevent it from getting wet and then freezing.
  • Keep the container sealed: Just like in a dry environment, it’s important to keep the container sealed to prevent the charcoal from losing moisture. If the container is not sealed, the charcoal can become too dry and difficult to light.
  • Allow the charcoal to warm up: If it has been stored in a cold environment, allow it to warm up to room temperature before using it. It will make it easier to light and help it burn more evenly.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your charcoal stays in good condition, no matter where you live.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Storing Charcoal

Storing charcoal may seem simple, but there are some common mistakes you should avoid to keep your charcoal in good condition. Here are some common mistakes that you should avoid when storing charcoal:

Leaving Charcoal Bags or Containers Open or Unsealed

One of the common mistakes people make when storing charcoal is leaving the bags or containers open or unsealed. It can cause the charcoal to absorb moisture from the air, making it difficult to light and affecting its performance.

To prevent this, seal the bag or container tightly after use. If you use a container with a lid, ensure it is properly sealed and that there are no gaps or holes.

Storing Charcoal Near Heat Sources or Flammable Materials

Storing charcoal near heat sources or flammable materials is a fire hazard you should avoid. Charcoal can combust and create a fire, especially when stored near flammable materials like gasoline or propane tanks.

Store your charcoal away from heat sources and flammable materials to avoid this risk. Please keep it in a cool, dry place, away from potential ignition sources.

Storing Charcoal in a Damp or Wet Area

Storing charcoal in a damp area can lead to mold growth and make it difficult to light. It can also affect the flavor of your food, making it less than ideal for cooking.

To prevent this, store your charcoal in a dry area, away from moisture. If you live in a humid environment, consider investing in a charcoal storage bin with a tight-fitting lid to prevent moisture from entering.

What Should I Do If My Charcoal Gets Wet?

Charcoal is a popular fuel source for grilling and barbecuing. Still, one of the biggest challenges in charcoal is keeping it dry. If your charcoal gets wet, it can be frustrating and seem like a wasted investment. However, you can take steps to try and salvage your damp or wet charcoal.

Remove Wet Charcoal from the Bag

The first thing you should do is take the wet charcoal out of its bag or container. It will allow the charcoal to start drying out faster and prevent the moisture from spreading to any other charcoal that remains dry.

Spread Charcoal Out to Dry

Once you’ve removed the wet charcoal from its bag or container, spread it out on a clean, dry surface. You can use a tarp or a piece of plastic to protect your patio or driveway. Make sure to spread the charcoal out in a thin, even layer so that it can dry out quickly and evenly.

Allow Charcoal to Dry Completely

It’s important to be patient and let the charcoal dry out completely before using it again. It could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the humidity levels and the amount of moisture the charcoal has absorbed. One way to tell if the charcoal is dry is by looking at its color. If the charcoal is gray or black and has a dry texture, then it’s ready to use.

Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter

Suppose you’re in a hurry and need to use the charcoal immediately. In that case, you can speed up the drying process by using a charcoal chimney starter. Fill the starter with dry charcoal and place the damp charcoal on top. Light the charcoal in the starter; the heat will help dry out the damp charcoal.

Use a Dehumidifier

Consider investing in a dehumidifier if you live in a humid area or if your charcoal tends to get wet frequently. A dehumidifier can help remove excess moisture from the air and can help keep your charcoal dry and ready to use.

Consider Using Waterproof Storage Containers

Consider using waterproof storage containers to store your charcoal to prevent future moisture problems. Airtight containers will help prevent moisture from getting in and will help keep your charcoal dry and fresh.

Getting your charcoal wet can be frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world. Following these steps, you can salvage your damp or wet charcoal and get back to grilling and barbecuing in no time. 

Always store your charcoal in a cool, dry place and protect it from moisture to prevent future problems.

What Are The Best Containers To Store Charcoal In?

There are many different containers to store your coal briquettes, coal dust, or lumpwood.

For example, you could use a large bucket with an airtight lid for your charcoal briquettes or a large bin with an airtight lid for your coal dust.

Let’s take a look at some options for storage solutions available on the market today.

The Charcoal Caddy

It is an excellent storage solution for all your lumpwood charcoal needs. It comes in three different sizes to choose the size best suits you. The Charcoal Caddy also has a great feature that allows you to lock the lid in place, so your charcoal stays dry, fresh, and ready for use when needed!

Metal Trash Can

A metal trash can is a great storage option for your charcoal briquettes. Make sure that the lid closes firmly and tightly to keep out air and water. You can also make a hole in the top to add your briquettes above!

5-Gallon Plastic Pails

These are an excellent option for storing your coal briquettes. Make sure that the lid closes firmly and tightly to keep out air and water.

Plastic Trash Cans with Wheels

These are a trendy option among many different types of people. You can use the wheelie bin to store your charcoal briquettes, coal dust, or lumpwood! These come in several different sizes, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Plastic Storage Bin with Lid

These are an excellent option for storing your coal briquettes. They come in different sizes, and you can choose the one that works best for you.

The proper way to store your briquettes is in an airtight container with a lid that closes firmly and tightly to keep out air and water.

A plastic storage bin with a lid is an excellent option for this! You can also make a hole in the top, allowing you to easily place your briquettes in from above!

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, proper charcoal storage is essential to ensure that your grill is always ready for use and your food is always delicious. Following the tips outlined in this guide can prevent common issues like moisture damage, odor absorption, and even charcoal briquette shape distortion. 

Whether a seasoned grill master or a beginner, understanding how to store charcoal is key to getting the most out of your grilling experience. So, keep your charcoal dry and fresh and get ready to impress your guests at your next barbecue!

FAQs

How long can you store charcoal?

Charcoal can last indefinitely if it’s stored properly. The main factors that affect charcoal storage are moisture, temperature, and exposure to air. Charcoal can last for years without losing effectiveness if it is kept dry and at a consistent temperature. 

However, suppose it’s exposed to moisture, extreme heat or cold or left in an unsealed container. In that case, it can become less effective and may even need to be replaced. If you want to keep your charcoal fresh and ready to use, it’s important to follow proper storage techniques. So check it regularly for any signs of damage or degradation.

Can you store charcoal in the garage?

It is not recommended to store charcoal in the garage, as it can pose a fire hazard. It is best to store charcoal in a dry and covered area away from open flames or heat sources.

Can you reuse charcoal?

Yes, you can reuse charcoal. After grilling, wait for the charcoal to cool down completely, then brush off any ash or debris. You can then reuse the remaining charcoal for your next grilling session.

Can you store charcoal in a plastic container?

It is not recommended to store charcoal in a plastic container, as it can create a buildup of gases that can lead to combustion. It is best to store charcoal in a metal container or a paper bag.

Z Hashan

Z Hashan

Hi, my name is Z Hashan, and I’m passionate about smoking the best BBQ. There’s nothing more satisfying than cooking a delicious piece of BBQ and seeing the joy on people’s faces while they have a bite of it.

Z Hashan

Z Hashan

Hi, my name is Z Hashan, and I’m passionate about smoking the best BBQ. There’s nothing more satisfying than cooking a delicious piece of BBQ and seeing the joy on people’s faces while they have a bite of it.

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