Can I reuse coal that has been put out?
June 10, 2010 2:40 AM   Subscribe

Barbecuefilter: Can I reuse coal that has been put out?

I barbecued yesterday, and when the food was done, there were lots coal left. Some of it white hot, some of it still black. I had to leave so I put it all out by pouring water on it.

Today there is a sizable amount of coal left (and now it is all black). If I let this dry, can I use it again?

I guess I could try, but I'd fear closing European airspace by creating another Eyjafjallajökull.
posted by gmm to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I do, but I put fresh coal on top*. The key is how solid it still is. Although some of it may look solid if you give it a gently shake and it disintegrates it's not worth using.

* But I extinguish my BBQ by putting a cover on it, not pouring water on it.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:48 AM on June 10, 2010

Yes...make sure it is dry.
posted by HuronBob at 3:06 AM on June 10, 2010

Best answer: Yes.
posted by OmieWise at 4:47 AM on June 10, 2010

I do it all the time. But like MuffinMan, I close up my cooker to extinguish the embers. I wouldn't re-use it if it had been wet.
posted by Shohn at 5:17 AM on June 10, 2010

Thirded: yes if it's still got something to it keep it, but don't pour water, cut off the air supply. Just like being a baby sitter.
posted by yerfatma at 5:19 AM on June 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Totally. It's really not that different from firewood.

But poke it around a bit. You want to get rid of any excess ash, and as MuffinMan indicates, it's likely that some bits that look like briquettes are actually just lumps of ash. You'll probably need to add some more coals, but you'll waste a ton of fuel if you don't reuse this stuff.
posted by valkyryn at 5:31 AM on June 10, 2010

Yes. Avoid water and next time deprive the coals of oxygen by closing your vents entirely.
posted by xammerboy at 5:35 AM on June 10, 2010

My dad used to dump his used charcoal into a big sieve to knock the ash off the partly used briquettes. I think it made it easier to re-light, but I never did a side-by-side comparison. Also, once charcoal gets wet it's a huge pain in the ass to try to light.
posted by electroboy at 6:21 AM on June 10, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, everyone was best answer, but Omiewise was bestest.

But you're all invited for the next BBQ!
posted by gmm at 7:08 AM on June 10, 2010

Wet is a problem? I used to do drop the chunks in a bucket of water, then dump it out and let 'em dry. Any problem escaped my notice, so it couldn't have been much. This was in ancient times, before grills had covers.
posted by Goofyy at 7:36 AM on June 11, 2010

I can only speak for using the chimney/newspaper type lighter, but it seems to take quite a bit longer for the coals to get going after they've been wet. Haven't tried it with lump charcoal or lighter fluid.
posted by electroboy at 11:29 AM on June 11, 2010

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