Does Charcoal Go Bad?
No!, so you may ask how long does charcoal last? Stored correctly charcoal should last a lifetime. The reason most people think charcoal has gone bad is due to poor storage and moisture ingress.
The main thing to keep in mind when storing charcoal is moisture as this will be the main cause of your charcoal going bad. High moisture content in your charcoal will give you problems when trying to light your fire so proper storage is crucial to prevent it from getting damp and going bad.
Charcoal Storage – Storing Your Charcoal Correctly
You should make sure to store your charcoal in a plastic box with a nice tight-fitting lid. Place this in a cool, dry place you can store the whole bag inside your container; it does not need to be removed from its bag.
Avoid storing outside as the humidity will find its way into your charcoal. I find the best place to store charcoal is in your garage on a shelf or countertop, so it is up off the ground as over time damp from the ground may find its way in.
Storage of charcoal briquettes and bagged charcoal should also be stored in a dry place using the same methods mentioned here. Some bagged charcoal does have a shelf life for the bag, but that shelf life is way shorter if stored outside or just in the bare bag.
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Can You Use Old Charcoal?
Yes, as long as it is dry, there is no reason you can not use old charcoal. The shelf life of most charcoal is around two years, this is what manufactures put on their bags, but if you store charcoal correctly, It will last forever.
Lumpwood vs briquettes
Lump wood – is made from woods burned very slowly with no oxygen, this burns away all the volatile substances within the wood, leaving behind only pure carbon. Lump charcoal is used to add that smoked taste to BBQed food, by using different woods such as oak you can add different flavours. Lump charcoal generally burns hotter and will light faster than a briquette.
Briquettes – are produced by compressing wood shavings along with some chemical additives, (natural alternatives are available also) into small rounded bricks. The bricks will stack up great on most BBQs. Briquettes burn much slower than lump wood and a little cooler, making them great for low and slow cooking. Briquettes do produce more ash so you will need to clean out your bbq a little more often.
How Do You Know When Charcoal Goes Bad?
It will become very difficult to light and will also throw off a lot of smoke if you do manage to light it due to moisture that is getting burned up. If your charcoal is too damp, it will burn very unevenly and may not even fully burn and may burn out.
Does Charcoal Go Bad if It Gets Wet?
YES. Charcoal getting wet or damp is the cause of your charcoal going bad, both lump and briquettes can go bad if they get damp. To prevent this, find a cool, dry place for your charcoal storage. Keep your charcoal dry people!
Can Charcoal Go Moldy?
Yes!, again this is due to poor storage if you have just finished your bbq and you are getting it all packed away, how many of us are guilty of just rolling the top of the charcoal bag over and putting it under the bbq. I, for one, am guilty!. Well when you come back in a month or so’s time, and it has rained, and snowed chances are your bag is ruined, you go to pick it up, and the bottom falls out of the bag as the paper has got damp and moldy and rotted away. Ask me how I know!.
Can You Dry Out Wet Charcoal?
Yes, you can dry out lump charcoal and briquettes simply by removing them from their bag laying them out in the sun for a few hours to dry. Try to find a place that gets the sun all day that way you won’t need to keep moving it all about. Drying out may take more or less time depending on how damp they are, I find lump charcoal dries out fastest.
How Hot Does Charcoal Burn?
Lump charcoal will burn at about 1300 – 1400° F and charcoal briquettes will burn at around 800 – 1000° F.
Does Lump Charcoal Burn Longer Than Briquettes?
Briquettes are made from compressed sawdust and therefore have a uniform shape, this makes them burn more evenly. Lump charcoal is all random shapes so also burns a little more randomly.
So with one burns the longest? Well, lump charcoal will usually burn for almost twice as long as briquettes.
What Is the Shelf Life of Charcoal?
There is no actual shelf life for charcoal if it is correctly stored from the day you buy it. Manufacturers usually put a two-year shelf life on their bags, which is fine as most people will use it up way before the two years is up. But if you have some leftover or you managed to snag a good deal on a bulk buy, See our section on correct storage and your charcoal will have an unlimited shelf life!.