Charcoal has become an important entity whenever you talk about or have BBQ. I know many people face a problem of having charcoal but not able to light it up. It can happen to many people including you. The question which arises in your mind instantly is “does charcoal go bad?”. You than get worried about storing it. These are some questions I am going to answer in this article.
Let’s find an answer to the question “Does charcoal go bad”, but before that we need to learn a thing or two about charcoal.
Charcoal – What is it?
If you burn wood slowly without oxygen, all that left is charcoal. Charcoal serves as fuel for smoking and grilling food. It is composed of pure carbon known as “char”. This process of making charcoal can even take days. Let’s move forward to types of charcoal.
Types of Charcoal
Here are given some important types of charcoal used in food industry.
1. Lump Charcoal
Lump charcoal is purest charcoal made from hardwood. It is entirely natural charcoal made without any additives. It is also eco-friendly which burns pure and hot. It lights up very fast and best grilling smoking food. It is however a bit expensive than other charcoal types.
2. Charcoal Briquettes
Charcoal briquettes are composed of small wood pieces and other organic material. They contain additives such as saw dust for composing. They burn steadily and maintain a stable temperature. They produce acrid-tasting smoke when started to burn but then it vanishes.
3. Match Lighting Charcoal
Match lighting charcoal as cleared by the name is the one that can be ignited with just matchstick. They have some additional chemical present them for fast ignition.
Does Charcoal go bad?
Now we get to the real question of charcoal going bad. Charcoal doesn’t get bad for as long as you want unless you fail to store it properly. Charcoal can go bad if you expose it to direct moisture making it very difficult to light up. Charcoal is a highly stable substance so in order to get bad, it must experience something terrible. Sometimes, the charcoal can ignite itself because of the unstable chemical used in its composition.
If you have a lot of charcoal, try to store it properly. You can also use some chemicals to prevent charcoal going bad if you have no use of it. Charcoal doesn’t expire unless it’s burnt properly. Both lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes can absorb moisture affecting their quality. Do not forget that lump charcoal has an indefinite shelf life.
How to Store Charcoal?
There are different ways to store your charcoal. These ways will not cost you much cash and space.
- Prevent Charcoal from water
- Use a dry container
- Place charcoal in humid free area
1. Prevent charcoal from water
Water and charcoal does not go together at all. Water highly spoils the charcoal quality either lump or briquettes. Don’t let the water reach anywhere near to the charcoal. Always keep it in safe dry place.
2. Use dry container
If possible, having a dry container will be of much help for storing charcoal. It will keep the charcoal sealed in a dry place so no chance of it getting bad.
3. Place charcoal in humid free area
Humidity can slowly spoil your charcoal as its cancer for it. Store charcoal in a place with low moisture and humidity to protect the quality of it.
How to Choose a Container and Storage Spot for Charcoal?
Choosing a Container
Choosing a container for your charcoal isn’t a difficult thing to do. You just need to decide what type of container will go best with it. There are plastic containers and metal containers. The metal container is not porous and is fireproof. It will refrain the moisture entering into container and protect your charcoal. The downside of metal container is rusting which can be avoided if you place on a wooden stool or something.
An air-tight plastic container can also be used for storing the charcoal. It works best for long-term storage. Seal the plastic container with aluminum duct tape after placing charcoal in it. Now toss a handful of silica pack in the container to absorb excess moisture.
Choosing a Storage Spot
An out shed is a great place to store charcoal. Place the container away from door and window after sealing it. Avoid direct sunlight as much as you can. Choose the place which doesn’t expose to excessive heat waves even during summer. Choose an area which is cool but not moist. The basement is a place good for storing charcoal. Use of dehumidifier is always recommended before storing charcoal.
You can check the “Best Charcoal for Smoking here“.
Does charcoal expire?
Charcoal doesn’t get expired unless it is completely used. There are some chemicals and additives used in preparing which can make charcoal expire. These are the things that make charcoal to expire if not used in time. Even the moisture can’t make charcoal to expire but it can go really bad. If the charcoal isn’t stored well than the risk of it expiring will be increased.
How long does charcoal last?
A lump charcoal usually last for three to four hours in case of a closed grill. The total lasting time of charcoal varies depending on many factors. The charcoal briquettes usually last for longer than lump charcoal. In case of an open grill, it will give you a burn time of 45 minutes on average. The shelf life of charcoal is indefinite as long as it is stored in a good container and kept in a cool dry place. Charcoal with Mesquite have a shelf life of 1–2 years if stored properly, meaning the bag is unopened, free of tears or sealed tightly.
Can you reuse charcoal?
If you want a short answer than yes, you can reuse charcoal. You can and should reuse your charcoal, and save your money. Being able to reuse charcoal is a nice advantage of using a charcoal smoker over other types of grill. Once you have finished cooking, it is a good idea to shut off the vents completely and extinguish the burning charcoal. By doing this, you’ll be able to save as much charcoal as possible for your next cook.
Charcoal briquettes are also reusable if you ignite them properly. These smaller coals nestled tightly together, greatly restricting airflow and delaying or even preventing the coals from igniting. However, we found that it does work to replace up to half of the fresh coals called for in a recipe with used coals.
Does Charcoal Absorb Moisture?
Charcoal does absorb moisture mainly from the air. All kinds of charcoal are no exception to it. Moisture is cancer for charcoal. Make sure you make arrangements to keep the moisture away from charcoal. Place charcoal in the can and put the lid on. Place in the areas of your house that get the most humidity, such as bathrooms, basements, closets, attics or sun rooms.
You can use dehumidifiers for this purpose. To make one, just put some charcoal briquettes in a coffee can, punch a few holes in the lid, and place in the humid areas. Replace the charcoal every few months.