Undoubtedly, barbequing is a fun activity. After all, who would not like to relish upon tempting and mouth-watering smoked meats?
However, the entire exercise costs quite a bit of money when you consider the costs of buying the meat, spices, raw material for sides as well as the miscellaneous costs associated with setting up the grill.
But did you know that you can save quite a bit of cash by simply reusing the charcoal used for firing up the grill? There are a lot of people who are doubtful regarding whether or not it is a good idea to reuse the charcoal. After all, you don’t want to spoil the entire recipe just because you want to save some money by reusing the charcoal.
Well, let us see what the experts have to say about this and then you can decide for yourself whether you can reuse charcoal for smoking or not.
Can You Reuse Your Charcoal – Yes or No?
The one word answer to this very basic question is YES! You can definitely reuse charcoal for smoking and it is in fact very much recommended that you do reuse it. This not only prevents wastage of resources but also ensures that you save quite a bit of money as you won’t have to buy a fresh supply of charcoal every time you want to set up your grill.
- The best way to ensure that the charcoal left over in the grill after you have finished your smoking exercise for the day is to shut off the vents immediately and make sure that the charcoals are extinguished as soon as possible.
- This ensures that the energy produced by burning charcoals is not wasted and they are preserved for use the next time.
- If you are not planning to use your grill within the next few days, you can even take the charcoal out of the grill to clean it up.
- The charcoal should be kept in a large container such as a meat tin from where it can be scooped up to be put back into the grill whenever you want to use it next.
Does Reused Charcoal Burn As Well As New Charcoal?
There is obviously some difference in the amount of heat produced by new charcoals as compared to that produced by reused charcoals.
New charcoals are generally big-sized lumps which ensure that they are spaced out inside the grill, thus allowing smooth flow of air between them. This, in turn, drives up the heating capacity and increases the grill temperature quite steadily.
On the other hand, charcoal which has already been used once will be smaller in size and will not be able to produce as high temperatures as new charcoal does.
You can keep the following tips in mind to ensure that you get the maximum results out of reused charcoal:
- The charcoal should always be kept in a dry spot so that it does not come in contact with moisture at any time. If the charcoal gets damp, it will take a lot of effort to fire up, though it will get heated up eventually.
- You can decide whether or not you want to reuse your old charcoal depending on how much temperature is required for the recipe you are cooking. For example, if you are smoking a brisket, you will require the grill to achieve a temperature of around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. For this, new charcoal would be better. However, if you are grilling leaner meats like chicken, you can go with reused charcoal which can give you grill temperatures up to 250 degrees F.
- For maximum efficiency, you can mix old charcoal with a few pieces of solid new charcoal such that you have a ‘sandwich effect’ inside the grill. This ensures greater air flow for the heat to catch up while minimizing your fuel costs.
What is The Best Way to Store Charcoal for Reusing it Later?
Storing charcoal the proper way is extremely important to make sure that it is worth all the effort.
- The best and easiest way is to just leave the charcoal pieces inside the grill. This makes sure that the charcoal remains dry and away from any kind of moisture.
- However, this way is recommended only if you are going to use the grill within the next 2-3 days. If you are not planning to set up the grill again in the near future, you should take the charcoal and store it in a metal tub or bucket and keep it in the driest corner of your shed.
- Another thing that you will notice while scooping out the charcoal is that you will get a lot of burnt ash along with it. This ash is a waste product and should not be stored as it only hinders the kindling process of charcoal. You should only pick out the solid charcoal pieces. Also, make sure that the charcoal pieces are not so delicate that they crumble on being squeezed even gently.
You can check out AlaskaGranny’s suggestion in the video below:
Starting Your Smoker When You’re Using Old Briquettes
Let us put it straight: it is not easier to light your barbecue if you are using light briquettes. Thus, it is the best practice to mix it with some fresh charcoal. Simply, make a sandwich by layering some old lumps over fresh charcoal, and then again, put some fresh pieces on top.
Another alternative way is to light some fresh charcoal in your chimney. Then, once fire has sparked, put old coals on the top.
What is better for Reuse – Lumps vs Briquettes?
Charcoal lumps are definitely considered a better option if you are thinking of reusing the charcoal. This is because charcoal lumps are more solid in construction and do not break down as easily as briquettes do.
Briquettes have the same properties as charcoal but their shape is such that they do not kindle rapidly. This makes briquettes ideal for long and slow cooks. However, briquettes do tend to break down into very small pieces in single use and are therefore not ideal for reuse.
You can check out the video below:
- The Best Way to Reheat Brisket Without Drying It Out
- How to Smoke a Brisket? Based on the Advises from Aaron Franklin
We hope that this answers your question – whether or not you can use charcoal for smoking. The basic fact remains that it is a good idea to reuse charcoal for your barbeque, provided that you follow some basic tips which will keep your old charcoal dry and ready for rekindling.
To ensure that you get the maximum heat out of your old charcoal, it is best to mix them up with new charcoal. You can also use a chimney while firing up your barbeque with old charcoal to make the process much easier.
Last Updated on April 21, 2019 by Judith Fertig
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