Grilling is one of the most popular ways to cook meals. Not only is it incredibly fun, it also never fails to produce great results.
While you have the option to cook with gas or other more modern grilling methods, you can never go wrong with the classic – grilling with charcoal.
One of the most commonly asked questions that inevitably come up among home cooks is:
How long does charcoal stay hot? Most of the time, charcoal will stay hot for as long as an hour. This can vary by how well the fire has been kept up and if you are careful to maintain a fire charcoal can stay hot for a long time.
This is a fair question, especially for beginners who know very little about the process of cooking with this type of material. The short answer to this: about an hour.
However, there are also several other factors that need to be taken into account in order for you to determine exactly how long your charcoal will stay hot.
Luckily, we are here to make things simpler. Presented here are some tips you need to remember – from the proper preparatory steps to optimizing the longevity of your charcoal.
We’ll help you make sure that your charcoals don’t die out.
How Long Does a Charcoal Grill Stay Hot?
A charcoal grill usually stays hot for as long as an hour before burning out. This can vary a little by how hot it was to begin with (such as whether it was at high heat or medium heat levels).
However, if you do your job right and keep feeding the fire, then your charcoal grill can stay at peak temperatures for hours on end. Just remember that the charcoal will burn out fairly quickly.
As you may have guessed, charcoal grills need charcoal as fuel. To create the flames and the heat you need to grill, you’ll need to ensure that there is charcoal at the bottom of the grill.
Douse the charcoal with lighter fluid then throw in a lit match or use a lighter to get things going.
It is worth mentioning that a typical charcoal grill takes about 25 to 30 minutes to achieve the optimal heat levels needed to properly cook food. To continue cooking, you need to ensure that you are consistently burning materials – in this case, charcoal.
So, you will need to keep an eye on your grill to make sure that your fire doesn’t die out and your efforts go to waste.
After all, the prospect of restarting the grill and waiting for it to become hot again can be quite frustrating – especially when you have guests looking forward to a delicious meal.
How Long Do Charcoals Stay Hot After Grilling?
If you’re done grilling and just want to know how long to be careful around the grill, you’ll wan to know how long it takes for the coals to burn out.
In most cases, the coals should only take as little as fifteen to thirty minutes before they mostly burn out on their own.
However, you should know it can take up to two days for your charcoal grill to fully cool down – and your charcoal may be slowly burning with the last embers for a while.
This is because the safest way to cool your grill and put it out is to simply shut the lid and leave it – ideally for up to two days – to let it slowly burn out and cool.
Once you have finished grilling, you can simply let your charcoals burn themselves out. As stated earlier, this will occur naturally if you stop tending the flames.
What to Do With Hot Coals After Grilling
Once the fire has burned out, you should let the hot coals rest for a while. The last thing you want is to throw out hot coals immediately after grilling. Doing so is extremely careless and dangerous. After all, the hot coals are still a fire hazard.
When you use your grill, you will have ashes left over from the burnt charcoal that you used previously. This can add up and cause the flames to burn out more quickly.
So, it is also important to remove some of the ashes from the grill before trying to start it up. The ashes will smother the charcoal so that it can’t get the airflow it needs to feed the fire.
These habits are great to get into so that you continually do them as you grill. These tips will keep your fire lasting longer so that you get the perfectly grilled, or seared, meat that you were hoping for.
There is a common misconception that grilling with charcoal is a cumbersome activity. Nothing can be further from the truth, at least if you know what you are doing. Just make sure to remember this guide and you should be grilling in no time.
Making Sure Your Charcoals Stay Hot
When cooking with a charcoal grill, there are several things you need to take into account.
However, none is as important as making sure that it stays hot. Understanding how charcoals work will help you do just that and make the entire cooking experience that much more convenient.
Preparing the Charcoals
Before anything else, there are a couple of steps you need to follow before you can start cooking with your charcoal grill. For instance, you need to ensure that you give your charcoal enough time to reach its optimal temperature.
Luckily, this stage shouldn’t take too long. For instance, it only takes around 10 minutes to reach high heat while it can take up to 25 minutes to reach medium heat levels.
Just remember to keep the lid open during this time so that the fire can breathe.
How To Keep The Heat Going – Tips
This leads us to the next question that needs to be answered: how do you keep the heat going?
This is incredibly important as this can be the difference between a smooth grilling experience and an arduous one. Luckily, there are several ways to keep your fire burning nice and hot:
- Stoke the Fire – One of the easiest ways to let your fire burn out is by leaving the charcoal alone. By letting the coals stay still, you are letting them burn unevenly – thus lessening the power of your flames. If left unchecked and unmoved, the fire will inevitably go out. Just remember that regularly moving the coal around is a basic rule for cooking with charcoal grills. Doing so helps stoke the fire and keep the heat going.
- Add More Lighter Fluid – Another effective method to keeping your fire going is add some more lighter fluid. This should come as no surprise as it is also the easiest way to get the flame started. However, you need to be careful when adding the fluid as it is incredibly flammable. While it won’t flare up, the fire will undoubtedly become larger before settling down into a more steady burn, so best be careful. It should also be noted that, you should also take care to the liquid evenly throughout different spots of the grill to ensure that the heat is even throughout.
- Ensure Proper Airflow – This is an oft-neglected aspect of charcoal grilling that you should always remember. Keep in mind, that fire needs oxygen to continue burning. So, proper airflow is just as important as a steady supply of fuel. Luckily, this isn’t a complicated matter as stoking the fire and moving the charcoal around helps ensure airflow. There are also charcoal grills with vents that you can open whenever you need help with this task.
- Use Paper as Additional Fuel – As stated earlier, the secret to keeping your fire going is to always have a consistent source of fuel. At the same time, you also need your fire to burn at a consistent level. Throwing in a few small pieces of paper into the fire helps solve both of these problems. Most people use old newspaper as they are incredibly easy to burn. Make sure to do this regularly if you want to keep the fire burning consistently and evenly. It should also be noted that you can throw in bits of paper to ensure that all sides of your grill are heated evenly.
Can I Add More Charcoal While Cooking?
This is another question that comes up. The answer to this is a resounding yes, you can add more charcoal while cooking.
After all, the things mentioned above can only do so much. Even adding bits of paper as a secondary fuel source is only effective for a certain period.
There are some scenarios where you will simply have to add charcoal. This is especially true if you are cooking for hours on end. Adding charcoal will be important if you want to keep the heat consistent enough to continue grilling.
Of course, there is a proper way to do this task and it isn’t as simple as emptying an entire bag into your grill.
You need to be smart about it. As a rule, you should be adding charcoal every 30 minutes. That should be enough time to keep the fire burning hot and your BBQ meals properly cooked.
While it may seem bothersome, it is unavoidable. After all, the ultimate goal is to ensure that your food is cooked properly and evenly.
The only way to do that is to ensure that the fire burns consistently and the internal temperature of your food never goes below a certain level. Failure to guarantee this will most likely lead to disastrous results.
So, here are a couple of things you need to remember when adding charcoal to cook your food properly:
- Keep Track of Time Intervals – Be sure to keep track of how much charcoal you are adding and how often. By keeping track of these intervals, you will be able to get a more consistent temperature for your grill which, in turn, ensures better grilling results.
- Promote Proper Airflow – Once you add the extra charcoal, there is another crucial step that you simply can’t forget: promoting proper airflow. There are two ways you can do this. First, you can stoke the fire and move the charcoals around. Second, you can open the vents on the side of your grill to ensure that the air is able to circulate.