Grilling is a fun experience, be it with your family and friends. Nothing can be more exciting than bringing everyone together and cook barbecues in your backyard or at a camp. When your grill requires fuel, there’s no better option than the reliable charcoal. No wonder! It’s cheap, lightweight, and provides the smoky flavor we all love.
Keep in mind, however, that charcoal is still fuel. It is critical not to be careless about how and where you should store it. Moreover, it can be retted with moisture, possibly making it no longer useable. To help you out, here is some information about charcoal and some storage tips you should keep in mind to lengthen its shelf life.
How Charcoal Is Made?
Charcoal is made through a process that closely resembles the technique in making dried meat. Every single drop of moisture is sucked up from the raw ingredient, which is wood, to produce charcoal.
The process is called slow pyrolysis, which is a method of ‘cooking wood’ enclosed in a retort or an airtight environment. The wood is heated up but doesn’t catch fire with the absence of oxygen. What happens instead is it exudes all of its moisture. Thus, leaving the solid blackish carbonized end-product – charcoal.
Since there is no moisture, charcoal ignites faster, burns to a higher temperature, and emits less smoke, making it an excellent fuel for your cooking needs.
Selecting A Good Container
Charcoal is made of compressed sawdust, coal dust, and wood chips. With that, it is your best interest to keep them dry at all times and avoid decreasing the quality of its burn.
To do so, you need to have a good-sized airtight container to keep out any moisture. While both plastic and metal containers can work, the latter is a greater vessel for storing charcoal as it is less porous than plastic. Moreover, metal is fireproof, ensuring your safety against any mishap.
One fallback of metal containers is that they are vulnerable to rusting. If you decide to use them, it is essential to keep them hoisted a few inches from the ground. An excellent way to do is to place a pallet or a pile of bricks underneath the container.
If you live in an area that isn’t at risk of exposure to water, having a metal container like an old trash can or garbage pail can do wonders as it won’t rust and will ensure that your charcoal is safe from water.
If you’re aiming for long-term storage, plastic containers are your best bet as they are suitable in all environments. Put your charcoal briquettes in an airtight plastic container, place it in an ideal location, and seal it caulk. You can expect to have fresh charcoal for your upcoming barbecue parties.
Picking An Ideal Storage Location
Once you have chosen a container and place your charcoal in it, your next task is to select a good storage spot. Since charcoal is combustible, it is critical to keep them out of sunlight and away from open flames and other heat sources.
Also, remember that charcoal and water are not friends. Make sure that you never leave your charcoal outside where it is vulnerable to other forms of moisture, such as fog, dew, and high humidity. Exposure to such elements will prevent your charcoal from lighting properly.
An ideal storage location is a cool, dry place. An excellent choice would a basement which is typically dry. Running a dehumidifier once in a while can be a big help in removing any excess moisture and avoid the area from being damp.
If you don’t have a basement, don’t fret as outdoor sheds can be decent alternatives. However, see to it that your container is not exposed to direct sunlight, elevated, and sealed tight. See to it that the shed is well-ventilated. This is critical in preventing it from getting too hot during summertime or in case of a heatwave.
Can You Dry Out Wet Charcoal and Use It?
The day of the barbecue party comes, and you’ve prepared your reliable grill and tasty meat. But, after checking the container, your charcoal is moist or wet. After all the precautions you’ve made, remember that mishaps can still happen.
Fortunately, you can still dry them out and use them. Just lay the charcoal in a single layer on any dry surface. Separate the soaked charcoal from the drier one. Then, get the drier ones and place them under the sun.
Keep in mind that if your charcoal has still moisture left inside, chances are they be harder to lit up and may not burn as efficiently. Moreover, you will other pieces crumble quickly. These ones can no longer be saved and should be disposed of.
For the ones that remained to be intact, an excellent way to maximize them is by placing them on the top of fresher fuel. Through that, they will ignite better with the help of the new charcoal underneath.
How Long Can You Keep Charcoal? Does it Go Bad?
What’s great about charcoal is that it doesn’t have an expiry date, which means you can keep them forever as long as they remain dry. They went into a thorough process wherein its moisture has been all sucked up, making them pretty stable and rot-resistant.
Through time, however, the effects of chemical and other additives may dwindle, lessening the efficiency of your charcoal. Plus, despite all the efforts you’ve made to store them properly, there will still be some risk of exposure to moisture. Still, the greatest way to know if your charcoal is already bad is to use it on your grill.
While charcoal may be cheap, you should never waste such fuel. Follow the tips discussed above so you can store them properly and keep their efficiency. After all, you’ll never know when they will become handy for a last-minute BBQ fest, and you may also want to stock some for future occasions.