Charcoal is perhaps the best choice when it comes to grilling. It is perfect for high-heat searing and can maintain temperatures effectively for a long time.
It is best to keep charcoal dry so the quality does not deteriorate and you can keep igniting the grill for the amazing recipes.
The aroma that charcoal gives can make your barbecues a lot more flavorful, and that is why it needs to be stored properly to last long.
Storing charcoal might seem simple but most people can easily ruin the quality of the charcoal. Charcoal can get destroyed if you store it in an area where rain or moisture can accumulate.
Knowing what type of charcoal you have is also important to understand how to store it properly, so we will start with that.
Types Of Charcoal
There are three main types of charcoal for cooking that you can get from the market.
1. Lump Charcoal
Lump charcoal is considered the superior type of charcoal, and it has the most natural process and can give your recipes that authentic BBQ taste.
They have the best quality and you can often see professionals use this type of charcoal for competitions or high-end restaurants as they light up easily and do not have chemicals.
There are, however, some downsides that lump charcoal has. One is that it is more expensive than the other types of charcoal and you might find it harder to come by.
They are also irregular in shape, so you cannot arrange them to make the most efficient airflow on your grill.
2. Pressed Charcoal Briquettes
These are the most common types of charcoal that you can find in supermarkets and stores, and they are readily available and are cheaper than lump charcoal.
Charcoal briquettes consist of wood shavings and other organic materials pressed together that create a uniform shape that you see in the end product.
The all-natural ingredients of charcoal briquettes mean that they burn clean but you can have some trouble lighting them up and need some additives.
3. Match-lighting Charcoal
Match-lighting charcoals are great for your tailgating and camping trips because they are ready to cook within 10 minutes.
This is due to the additives and chemicals used in the mixture that help the charcoals light up quickly even if you use only a match.
The downside of match-lighting charcoals is the same ingredients that make it easy to light up. The smell and even the flavor of your recipes can be affected by the said additives and chemicals.
Since these types of charcoal are easy to light up, it begs the question of whether charcoal ignites by itself in storage or not.
Can Charcoal Spontaenously CombUst In Storage?
No, charcoal does not spontaneously ignite in storage, and neither lump charcoal nor charcoal briquette combusts by themselves when stored.
As for the news you might have seen recently, house coal is the main cause of charcoals spontaneously combusting.
Unlike charcoals, house coals did not have the organic matter burnt off before packaging them, they are fossil fuels that heat throughout time.
House coals also include gases that can cause them to easily ignite so as long as you do not have any house coals in your storage, your charcoals are safe from combustion.
It would take a whole mound of charcoals for it to produce enough pressure and heat to ignite the charcoals.
Fire or heat is one thing to keep charcoals away from to keep them safe but what about moisture?
Does Charcoal Go Bad If It Gets Wet?
Yes, charcoal does go bad when it gets wet but it does not mean that you can no longer use them for the next cookout.
Instances such as a heavy storm, snowy days, or just moisture seeping through that bag of your charcoals can get the charcoals wet.
Charcoals are porous which means that they can absorb water. They do go bad when wet but you can still salvage them.
Laying them out in the sun can dry out the wet charcoals so you can still use them after they dry out again. That goes especially with lump charcoal.
So while charcoal is bad when it is wet, it does not mean that it is useless you can use it as long as it is dried.
When Does Charcoal Go Bad, Exactly?
Charcoal does not go bad as long as you store it in a cool, dry places. Your bag of charcoals can last indefinitely when you store them in an airtight container.
The components of charcoal is almost purely carbon so it is completely stable. Scientists even found charcoals from millions of years ago that still burned when they tried it.
The quality of the charcoal does deteriorate throughout time but it will take years for that to happen.
You can still use the charcoal for cooking after drying them. On the other hand, Match-lighting charcoal will only last between 1-2 years because of the chemicals in it.
Charcoal going bad means that it just absorbs moisture for an extended time but can still burn. So how do we prevent this?
Tips To Prevent Charcoal From Going Bad
1. Select The Charcoal Properly
Check out the packages of the charcoals from the store you are buying in and always buy the one that is properly stored and sealed in the plastic bag.
2. Choose The Right Place
Store the charcoals in a cool dry place where water does not flow or accumulate. Your basement or a separate storage area is good as long as low humidity.
3. Cover The Charcoals
Use the cover of the plastic container that you will be using. You can also use a metal container like a garbage can as long as the charcoals are still inside the plastic bag they came from.
4. Avoid Hot Areas
I said the basement is a good place to store charcoals because you also have to keep them away from sunlight and any hot area to prevent them from igniting.
5. Keep The Plastic Bag
If the sealed plastic bag that you store charcoals in is not completely ruined, make sure to use them before placing the charcoals inside the container.
How To Store Charcoal?
So you bought charcoal in bulk as it is cheaper that way and you want to know how to store them, here is how:
Step 1: Select A Container And Clean It
Get either a plastic container or a metal one that is big enough to hold all of the charcoals. Make sure that the container does not have holes that might allow moisture to enter.
Wipe off any moisture inside the container.
Step 2: Put The Charcoal In The Container
Do not place the charcoals straight into the container. First, pour the charcoals in a paper or plastic bag for additional protection from moisture before placing them in the container.
Step 3: Place The Container In The Right Place
Once the charcoals are inside the container, close the lid of the container and make sure that it is airtight.
Place the container in a cool dry place, preferably in the basement, garage, or under a shaded area.
There are many containers that you can use for storing charcoal just as long as the container you choose is airtight and does not have any moisture in it.
Best Charcoal Storage Containers
Here are the best storage containers that you can use for storing your charcoals so that they can last for a long time.
1. Kingsford Charcoal Dispenser
This charcoal dispenser comes from one of the most trusted brands in terms of charcoal grilling. The Kingsford charcoal dispense is rainproof so it keeps the charcoals dry and fresh.
The handles of the Kingsford charcoal dispenser are ergonomic and they allow you to pour the charoals easily or you can purchase the separate cup to adjust the amount of charcoal you get.
One downside of this charcoal dispenser is that is is made only of plastic so it is not as durable as others. That is why it needs to be stored indoors.
I know this is a trash can but hear me out, it WORKS!
You can use this sleek trash bin from Keter and I’m sure you will fall in love with it as it has everything that one might need.
If you want a storage container that you can use and leave outdoors, this charcoal bin is one of the best on the market right now.
It is made out of polypropylene and resin to last for years and keep the charcoal cool and dry. Just place the charcoals in a bag and then clip the bag on the removable ring so it does not slip.
3. Traeger Grills Pellet Storage Bucket
If I store just a small amount of charcoal, just enough for a tailgating trip, I would get my Traeger Grills storage bucket.
It is an excellent container with a relatively small capacity but is enough for a day of grilling. The bucket has galvanized steeland is easy to carry with its wooden handle.
While the Traeger Grills storage bucket prevents moisture from entering it, the bucket should still be stored somewhere cool and dry to protect the outer steel part.
Alternatives to store Charcoal
1. Metal Trash Cans
You do not have to specifically buy a charcoal storage container. Using household objects like a metal trash can can store your charcoal effectively.
They are fire and rust resistant so the charcoals will be safe from combusting. However, I recommend lining the metal trash can with a garbage bag before storing the charcoals in it.
The bag will serve as a sealant for moisture to keep out of the can.
2. Plastic Pails Or Buckets
This is another household item you can easily buy from a nearby hardware store. I prefer plastic pails or buckets over metal trash cans because they have a better lid.
Some of these plastic pail lids are sometimes lined with rubber to ensure that air, let alone moisture, will not enter it when you store the charcoal in them.
3. Wheelie Bins
Wheelie bins are large and they can store a lot of charcoal if you need to cook for a whole day. The wheels also make it easier to transport the charcoals in case you need to move.
Another benefit that you can get with wheelie bins is the fully open lid. You can access the charcoals and get as much or as little as you need from the bin.
However, Wheelie bins are not airtight, so when storing charcoal in them, the charcoals should be put first in a plastic bag to ensure they do not get wet.
How Long Can You Keep Charcoal?
You can keep your charcoal indefinitely like we have mentioned above, but it is better to use it within one year to get the best out of the charcoal.
So long as the charcoals are stored in a cool, clean, and dry place, they will last for years and you can cook a lot of recipes with it.
Keep the charcoals away from children too, just like most packages advise, as kids often use charcoal as chalk and play with it.
So while charcoals can last indefinitely, they should still be stored and cared for properly for them to last for years!
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