How To Put Out a Charcoal Grill Safely

How To Put Out a Charcoal Grill Safely

I have a strong belief in the unmatched flavor that charcoal grills bring to the table. There’s something truly special about the smoky, char-grilled essence infused into every bite of ribs, brisket, or chicken cooked over those sizzling coals. However, it’s important to acknowledge that managing a charcoal grill presents its own set of challenges, especially when it comes to safely extinguishing the coals after a satisfying cooking session.

When using burning coals as the heat source, it becomes imperative to take the necessary steps to ensure that all embers are completely extinguished. While it may seem tempting to simply close the lid and walk away, that approach is far from safe. Even if the coals seem to be lifeless, there could still be hidden, smoldering embers lurking within the ash.

Put Out a Charcoal Grill Safely

These seemingly harmless embers have the potential to cause significant issues, such as generating residual heat that can lead to accidental burns or, in worst cases, even a fire. If the grill happens to be knocked over, these embers could easily find their way onto flammable materials, sparking an uncontrollable blaze. It’s crucial to understand that these embers can unexpectedly flare up, creating a hazardous situation that may go unnoticed until it’s too late.

To ensure the safety of yourself, your loved ones, and your surroundings, proper measures must be taken to extinguish the charcoal. This involves giving ample time for the coals to cool down completely. One effective technique is to spread out the coals and carefully douse them with water. This gradual cooling process allows the coals to lose their residual heat and eliminates any potential threat of re-ignition.

Remember, patience is key when dealing with charcoal grills. Rushing the process of taking shortcuts could have dire consequences. Take the time to guarantee that every single ember has been thoroughly extinguished, giving you peace of mind and ensuring a safe grilling experience for all.

How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill Safely

I only need a few tools to put out my grill safely and properly. By following these simple steps, I can protect myself and my family from potential accidents. These steps apply to all types of charcoal grills.

Recommended Tools

  • Heat-resistant gloves 
  • Metal tongs
  • Grill brush
  • Metal scooper, spoon, or spatula
  • Metal bucket
  • Aluminum foil


Cut Off the Oxygen

Fires need oxygen to burn, so the first thing you need to do is cut off any air from flowing into your grill. Place the lid on the grill and make sure it is securely shut. Then fully close all of the vents and dampers. The charcoal will burn up all of the oxygen left inside the grill and eventually suffocate when it runs out. Whatever you do, do not open the grill after you have closed all the vents, as the sudden influx of air could cause a flare-up.

Let the Grill Sit For 48 Hours

It may seem like 48 hours is a long time to wait, but this is actually how long it can take for all of the embers to completely die out. Even if you think the coals might be extinguished before the 48 hours are up, it’s better to wait just to be on the safe side. During this time, you want to make sure that the grill is in a safe place where people and animals are unlikely to bump into the grill or knock it over.

Remove the Leftover Coal and Ash

After 48 hours, the coals should be completely extinguished, so you can start removing the debris. Use a pair of metal tongs to remove the large pieces of leftover briquettes or lumps of coal. You may want to set these aside on aluminum foil so you can use them again. Then take a grill brush and sweep the ash into the catcher pan. If your grill doesn’t have a catcher pan, scoop the ash out and place it in a metal bucket.

Wrap the Ashes in Aluminum Foil for Disposal

Remove the catcher pan or take your metal bucket, dump the ashes onto aluminum foil, and wrap them up. Even though the coals are most likely extinguished by this point, you don’t want to take any chances. By wrapping your ashes in aluminum foil, you prevent any lingering embers from coming into contact with flammable materials or burning through your disposable bin. If possible, dispose of the ashes in a flame-resistant bin. 

Clean Your Grill

It’s always a good idea to clean your grill after every use because excess grease and carbon can build up and cause dangerous flare-ups. Use a grill brush to clean the grates and firebox walls. If there are stubborn patches of cooked-on food and grease, you can use a spatula or scraper to remove them. You can also soak your grates in soapy water to soften the debris. Be sure to clean the vents too.

how to put out charcoal grill

Alternative Methods for Extinguishing Charcoal Grills

Instead of using water, I can use alternative methods to put out my charcoal grill safely. One of these methods is to use sand. I can pour sand over the coals and stir them until the sand has completely covered the coals. Another alternative method is to use baking soda. I can sprinkle baking soda over the coals and stir them until the baking soda has completely covered the coals. These methods will help me to extinguish the coals safely without damaging my grill.

Should I Use Water to Put Out My Grill?

I recommend not using water to extinguish the coals for a few reasons. First, the sudden temperature change from hot coals to cold water could cause damage to the grill. This is especially true for porcelain-enameled bowls and grates. Second, pouring water on hot coals will create a lot of steam, which could lead to burns. And lastly, the mixture of water and ash will make a big mess that will be challenging to clean up.

Saving Leftover Charcoal 

I like to save my leftover lumps of charcoal or briquettes to use for grilling in the future. I believe it’s a waste to throw away good charcoal if it’s still usable. To save the leftover charcoal, I usually set the briquettes or lumps aside on aluminum foil when removing the ash. Later on, I can either place the charcoal back in the grill or use tongs to quickly douse the charcoal in water. However, I make sure to allow the charcoal to dry completely before putting it in a fireproof box.

When Can I Put the Cover on My Grill?

After I have closed the lid and vents on my grill and the outside is cool enough to touch, I can put the cover on my grill. In fact, I recommend covering my grill during the 48-hour cool-down period because the cover can further prevent air from getting inside the grill and feeding the embers, and it will protect my grill from the elements.

Safety Tips

Putting out my charcoal grill safely is crucial to avoid any potential accidents. I follow a few essential safety tips to ensure a safe and efficient cool-down process.

Put Out a Charcoal Grill Safely tip

  • Firstly, I always wear gloves to protect my hands from the heat and debris that may be present in the grill. Wearing gloves also gives me a better grip while handling the hot grill components.
  • Secondly, I keep a safe distance from the grill while putting it out. I understand that even after closing the lid and vents, the coals can stay hot for hours. Therefore, it is important to stay alert and cautious until the grill has completely cooled down.
  • Lastly, I keep a fire extinguisher on hand in case of an emergency. Even though I use safe methods to extinguish the coals, I understand that accidents can happen, and I must be prepared to handle them.

By following these safety tips, I can confidently and safely put out my charcoal grill, protecting myself and my loved ones from any potential accidents.

Parting Words

While charcoal grills undoubtedly deliver unparalleled flavor, they require responsible handling, especially during the crucial step of extinguishing the coals. As a responsible grill owner, I strongly believe that knowing how to properly extinguish my charcoal grill is crucial for the safety of my loved ones and myself. With the potential risks of fires, burns, and flare-ups, it’s imperative that I take the time to follow the necessary steps to put out my grill in the most efficient and safe way possible. Even though it may seem like a time-consuming task, the peace of mind it provides is worth the extra effort. By taking these precautions, I can enjoy grilling with confidence, knowing that I’m taking the necessary steps to protect my family and property.

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