How to Put a Charcoal Grill Out – A Detailed Guide You Cannot Miss

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Without a doubt, a charcoal grill is the best equipment for smoking yummy meat. But it presents one challenge. When you finish grilling, there is no turn ON/OFF button to help you stop the fire. Without knowing how to put out a charcoal grill out, you can pose a hazard to others and waste your coals.

Whether using a Weber grill or another brand, extinguishing your coals is an easy task. Handling ashes and saving partly-burned coals is not hard either. We will explain how to do this without risking burns.

Benefits of extinguishing your charcoal grills after use

The following are the reasons why your charcoal grill cannot stay lit. 

  • Fuel wastage – If you have nothing else to cook, do not let your coals to continue to burn. Extinguish the grill to save partly-burnt coals for your next BBQ session. Charcoal is an expensive item, and you have other things to do with your money.  
  • Safety hazard – As chunks of charcoal waste away in the grill, it will remain hot. If you have young kids playing in the yard, they could decide to touch it. Burns can be so painful even when mild. Unless you want to stay beside the grill until all the coals turn off, extinguish it to protect everyone within the property from burns. Suppose a pet bangs into the grill and knocks it over. The grill would spill hot coals that might ignite dry grass and cause a big fire.
  • Prevent air pollution – Each time you burn lumps of charcoal in the grill, they release noxious gases into the atmosphere. If environmental conservation matters to you, learn how to safely put out a charcoal grill.
  • You can start a fire – According to BBQ experts, charcoal gets so hot that it can retain heat for one day or longer. Suppose you handle hot coals carelessly by discarding them before they turn off. They can start a fire at the damping site.

How to put a charcoal grill out

For those who prefer to use a charcoal grill, there are two methods you can use. However, we highly recommend our first method below:

Method 1 

Step One: Cover the grill and turn off both vents

high-quality charcoal grill like this one here has a lid, a bottom vent, and a top vent. So, apply the lid and turn off the bottom and top vents. As we have noted above, coals can take many hours to douse. When you close every hole that lets in oxygen, combustion cannot occur. After the trapped oxygen depletes, the coals will begin to turn off. Wait for them to get cool. That can take anywhere from four to eight hours. Some people suggest a waiting period of 24 to 48 hours.

  • Step Two: Protect others from the hot grill

We have listed the hazards that hot coals or the grill can cause. Make sure everyone knows that the grill is hot and you are trying to put it out. Ensure the kids and pets are not in the yard during this period. After about eight hours, the charcoal grill should be cold. If you have layers of hot coals, it may take longer than eight hours to cool down.

  • Step Three: Remove the ash and discard it properly

 Grills have different features, and some have an ash dump. If yours has an ash dump, use it to scoop out the ashes. Wait a minute; the ash could still be hot. Thus, put it in a metal container rather than a plastic can. Once you are sure the ash and old charcoal is cold, pour the mixture on a big sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap the foil until there are no gaps for the residue to spill out. After wrapping, put the trash in a metal tin to lower the odds of starting a fire. 

  • Step Four: Gather partly-burned coals

If you had many pieces of charcoal on the grill, there is the likelihood that some did not burn completely. You can reuse these the next time you barbecue food. Before throwing away burned pieces of charcoal and ashes, pick renewable lumps and put them on the grill. As you cannot be sure if one or more coals are still hot, use your metal tong to avoid burns.

  • Step Five: Clean and Store your charcoal grill

As you might not be looking to smoke food soon, clean your grill before storage. Follow all instructions on the Owner’s manual to ensure you clean it well. Before you do it, remove the reusable coals and put them in a fireproof container. Store your grill where you keep it on your property. 

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Method 2

Some charcoal grill users want to extinguish their hot coals as soon as possible. So they pour water over hot charcoal and ashes. We use water to put out big fire. Some people think it is sensible to turn off a charcoal grill the same way. We do not highly suggest this method, and we will share our reasons shortly. Here is how you carry out this method. 

  • Step One: Pour water over hot coals and stir

If you pour water slowly over the hot charcoal and then stir, you can let the ash cool quickly. Without a doubt, water will eliminate the possibility of coals igniting again later. There is a risk of burning yourself with hot steam. When you pour water over hot coals and ashes, expect hot vapor and dust to emerge. That is why you must take the time to pour water slowly. 

  • Step Two: Collect reusable coals

Do not throw away partially-burned coals. Use your pair of tongs to pick them up. Keep them aside and splash them with water to extinguish them. Allow them to dry out before storing them in a container or grill. 

  • Step Three: Discard burned charcoal and ashes

Another step on how to put a charcoal grill out by cooling it with water entails throwing away the remains. Ensure that you handle old charcoal and ashes when they are cool. As you did in method 1, wrap these residues in an aluminum foil and place in a metal can.

Why people do not accept method 2 

Nobody disagrees with method 1, including us. However, there are two opposing powers concerning method 2. Some people are against it; others are for it. Note that we are talking about the opinions of companies that produce charcoal. Those who disagree with method 2 give the following reasons: 

  • Damage to the grill – After a long barbecuing session, even a gas grill will turn red hot. Now, if you pour ice-cold water over it, the thermal shock could trigger cracks in the cooker. As you want to extend the life of your grill, you might want to avoid method 2 unless you are in a hurry to leave.
  • It is unsafe – As we earlier said, pouring cold water over hot coals and ash produces hot steam. The hot vapor can cause painful scalds. Besides, the mist contains white dust that might land on your hair and clothes.
  • Creates a mess – If you pour water over hot ashes, you will loathe the aftermath. If you have no time to clean the grill, which is not fun, the sludge will harden and clog your vents. Also, the hardened sludge could cause dampers to get stuck. 

Sometimes it is hard to hang around until method 1 works. For instance, you could have an appointment in the next one or two hours. Perhaps you are out in the wood and have to travel to the next camping site. You can put out your charcoal grill with water to ensure you do not transport hot coals and ash in your truck. If you have adequate time to do method 1, do not hesitate. 

Handling partially-burned charcoal

Now you know how to put a charcoal grill out. As charcoal is an expensive product, we cannot emphasize enough that you should try to save it. When handling ignited charcoal, always think about your safety. Wear your heatproof gloves when extinguishing charcoal. Next, do these steps to save as much charcoal as possible:

  • Prepare a pail of water. We would advise you to use a metal pail.
  • With your tongs, extract all the partially-burned coals you can spot. Pick a piece at a time to avoid dropping some of them. Place your coals on a heatproof surface like a metal lid.
  • Spray or splash water onto the hot coals instead of submerging them in water. Some people suggest soaking up charcoal for about a minute. We would say splashing with water is better.
  • Transfer your cooled charcoal to a clean non-combustible surface. Then, place the tray in a place with direct sunlight. Arrange them such that each coal occupies its space and let them dry.
  • Store your reusable coals in a metal container for later use. 
  • When you decide to grill food again, mix your reusable coals with fresh ones for the best results.
How To Put Out A Charcoal Grill

We would like you to note that some coals have substandard quality. When you reclaim them from the fire, they will disintegrate. Thus, ensure that you purchase your coals from a reputable brand. Good-quality coals will stay intact even if you submerge them in water and dry them afterward. 

Are there emergencies when cooking with a charcoal grill?

If you are new to barbecuing or grilling, you may not know about flare-ups and other challenges you might encounter. A flare-up is a hot flame that emerges when oil catches fire. As you smoke your food, some of its greases could seep into the fire pit and cause a flare-up. 

Do not extinguish your charcoal grill with water to stop the flare-ups. That could ruin your cooking. Watch the flame for a while as it could go away. If it does not, use the first step of the first method above. Cut off the oxygen supply by closing the lid and vents to end the flames.


Learning how to put a charcoal grill out is easy if you follow the instructions in this article. You can follow our Method 1 each time you finish grilling food. The alternative method has its disadvantages, as you can see above. Use it only if the situation you are in does not allow you to use method 1. We have more helpful tips on barbecuing food with charcoal grills and other grill types. Navigate our blog to boost your knowledge and learn how to grill safely.

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