How to Put Out Charcoal Grill

Cooking on a grill requires mastery outside culinary techniques. You must know how to fire up and how to put out the charcoal grill.

The charcoal grill is famous for the effect it has on the flavor and texture of food. Food made on this grill is smoky and very tasty. On this type of grill, incoming air from the top and bottom of the grill mixes in with the coal and causes it to burn.

Turning off the charcoal grill isn’t as simple as flipping a switch or twisting a dial on a gas-powered grill. To successfully put out a charcoal grill, you must ensure all the charcoal pieces are snuffed out. When improperly extinguished charcoal grills keep burning until they die out. This might seem like a harmless way to put out your grill but leaving a grill unattended poses a serious fire hazard.

So how can you put out a charcoal grill? There are many ways to suffocate the fire on a charcoal grill. You can use the grill lid to cut off the oxygen supply into the air vents. Alternatively, you may take out all the individual burning coal pieces and dip them in water. The goal is to ensure the burning coal cools down enough to remove it from the grill.

Putting out a Charcoal Grill the Traditional Way

Cutting off the oxygen supply to the burning coal is the most reliable way to turn off a charcoal grill. This process is known as “Smothering”. Without oxygen coming into the grill through the ventilation ports, the coal will stop burning and cool down in time.

To smother the charcoal in your grill:

  • Begin by fitting the lid on your grill ensuring all the vents are sealed off. This will prevent any oxygen from reaching the burning.
  • Leave the lid on for as long as you need to. This process can last up to 48hrs depending on the amount of burning charcoal left inside the grill.
  • Always handle the grill with heat resistant gloves until you are certain that your grill is completely cool.
  • You must never leave the coal to die off on its own.

The amount of time it takes to put out a charcoal grill changes depending on many factors. For example, a grill with a lot of burning coal pieces will take longer to extinguish compared to one with fewer pieces.

Putting out a Charcoal Grill without a Lid

If you do not have a lid for your grill, you can empty out the hot charcoal into a metal bucket and let the hot pieces cool outside of the grill. This method requires extra care. You must always take extra take all necessary precaution when dealing with hot coal. That means working with heat resistant gloves and long handled tongs.

Can you use water to extinguish your charcoal grill?

Sometimes, you may not have the time to smother and cool the coals in your grill. You can use water as a faster alternative to cool off your grill.

A splash of water over burning coal might seem like an easy way to put out the fire on a charcoal grill. However, that is not the proper way to use water to extinguish your grill. Although the cool water on the hot grill will immediately snuff out hot coals, the splash of water over the hot charcoal and grilling grates might send up a cloud of steam. The steam coming off the grill is hot and could be a safety hazard. The sudden change in temperature on the grates might also cause the metal to crack. Aside from potentially damaging your grill, splashing water over your grill will create a mess at the bottom tray. Adding water to the grilling surface might also cause rust to develop.

That said, there are other ways to use water to extinguish your grill. Using some oven safe mitts and a pair of long handled tongs, you can remove the hot pieces of coal and dip them in water. Remember to use a metal bucket to hold the water. Make sure to take extra precaution when handling hot coal.

Cleaning Out the Grill and Saving Unconsumed Charcoal

Clearing out the ashes, partially burnt, and unburnt charcoal is the last step in putting out your grill. To clean out your charcoal grill:

  • You can begin by emptying out the ash at the bottom of the grill and taking off the grates to clean. Leaving the ash or other gunk inside the grill might cause clogging in the air vents.
  • It is good practice to salvage any unconsumed and reusable pieces of coal. You can pick these pieces out before you dispose the ash.
  • Do not empty out the ash bowl directly into a trash bin. Make sure you cover all the residue in aluminum foil. This keeps any embers or hot pieces of coal from burning.
  • Ensure all the buildup on the grates is cleaned off before you return it inside the grill.
  • Once all the parts of the grill are cleaned, you can clear out the lid.

Final Word

There are multiple ways to extinguish a charcoal grill. Interfering with the oxygen supply by covering the air vents is currently the safest way to snuffle out the burning pieces of coal once you finish grilling. Other methods such as using water or taking out the hot coal will work just as well but must be done while taking the utmost care.


How do you put out charcoal after grilling?

To extinguish the burning coals in your grill, you must cover top with the lead and seal off all the vents. Cutting oxygen supply to the coal will case the coal to stop burning.

Can I pour water on my charcoal grill?

You shouldn’t pour water directly onto your grill. Doing this might cause the metal grates to crack or lead to rusting. Pouring water over hot coal might create a rush of hot steam that could burn you. That is a serious safety hazard.

Does a charcoal grill go out by itself?

Yes. When left alone the coal inside the grill will burn completely or go off eventually. However, you must never leave a hot grill unattended.

Gavrie Ricci is a design manufacturer and one of his latest projects is the Eco grill, an electric grill that comes equipped with a revolutionary heating system. Gavrie is a design enthusiast and is passionate about simplification, there are so many types of grills in the market but people find it hard to narrow down to one unit that will suffice for all their grilling and smoking needs. The comprehensive articles about grills at Grillception are, therefore, a guide to choosing the perfect unit that suits different user needs. Gavrie seeks to empower people with knowledge about grills, to simplify their search process.

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