When you are grilling up some chicken, beef, or whatever meat you prefer, you have a plethora of options to start grilling with.
This includes gas, coal, and charcoal. One of the more popular options for many grillers is charcoal, even though gas and coal both come with their strong points.
If you have never used charcoal, it can seem a bit overwhelming. You might even have questions about how to store it, how long it can last, or if it can even go bad. In this article, we are going to answer all those questions and more.
What Is Charcoal?
Before we delve into the crux of this article, some of you may wonder what charcoal is.
Of course, you know that it is commonly used to grill with, but what is it exactly? Is there more to this chemical than meets the eye?
Simply put, charcoal is used as a source of fuel. It is actually made of wood, and the process of how it is made is quite amazing.
The wood needs to be burnt or charred while also being deprived of oxygen. Once this is done, you get the black substance known as charcoal!
While charcoal can heat a house, it is most often used to cook food. Specifically, it is used to grill certain foods—usually on a grill or barbeque.
Interestingly enough, charcoal can also be found in other objects, such as crayons and filters.
The thing is, when you think of charcoal, you aren’t going to think of a Crayola crayon your child uses for their latest drawing. Your mind is automatically going to go cooking or heating in some form.
How Long Does Charcoal Last?
Now we know what exactly charcoal is, so let’s move on. The next thing you may wonder is if this substance can go bad and how long it can last.
Well, let us look at if it can go bad first before we touch on how long this product can last.
Charcoal rarely will rarely go bad. Normally when charcoal goes bad, there are specific things at play that are causing this.
This is something we will get into later, and to how you avoid this from happening to any charcoal you have purchased.
So, you know it does not go bad under most circumstances, but how long does it last? It has no expiration date and might even last a lifetime if you are storing it properly.
However, should you be storing your charcoal to cause it to get damaged, then you are going to find it certainly won’t last a lifetime.
The reason charcoal can last so long and not go bad is that it’s what is called an elemental carbon. Yes, it is technically artificial, but the entire process it goes through is entirely based on science and not on human engineering.
Reasons Charcoal Can Go Bad and How To Fix It
One of the biggest (if not the only) reason charcoal can go bad is because of moisture. If your charcoal gets wet, then it could end up being useless.
Charcoal takes on moisture pretty easily, so it really does need to be kept away from any areas that are damp or can take on a lot of water/rain.
If you use charcoal that has taken on moisture, it will influence the meat. Chances are it will leave it tasting bitter, and this isn’t something someone wants to taste on their meat.
Do you automatically have to throw out your damp charcoal? Well, it depends on the make/quality of the charcoal and how wet it got.
To dry it, remove it from the bag and then dry it in the sun or under a hot light. You’ll know if your charcoal can still be used if it does not crumble and turn into dust after being dried.
Cheaper versions of charcoal tend to do this. While the cheaper option tends to appeal more to some people, sometimes you just have to go with the more expensive option. They have a better chance of lasting longer than the cheaper versions will.
Ways to Properly Store Charcoal
You know what it is if it can go bad, how long it can last, and why it can go bad. The best way to keep your charcoal in tip-top shape is to prevent it from becoming damaged.
One option for storing charcoal is with stackable charcoal boxes. These are pretty convenient, and the best part is they are great for organizing. If you hate to take up a lot of space, this option is definitely for you!
Another option is an outdoor charcoal bin. This can be placed next to your girl or really anywhere outside, like, for example, a shed.
Some might not feel comfortable storing something like this outside, but it does make it easier to grab when you want to light up the grill.
The third and final option is the simplest and cheapest. Do not think that this makes it any less good than the other two we mentioned!
On the contrary, for certain individuals who don’t want to spend the money or can’t, this is their best option.
A metal trash can be something that is easy to get and safe to use. You’ll want to buy one that is around 10 gallon because charcoal is heavy. Plus, the bigger the trash gin is, the more charcoal you can store in the first place!
The answer is that charcoal, under most circumstances, does not go bad. If it is safely stored and is kept from getting wet, it can last as long as a lifetime for some.
If your charcoal does get wet, there is the possibility of drying it out, but this can be a hit and a miss for some. It’s better to prevent it from getting wet at all.
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.