How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill? [3 Different Methods]

How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill

Using a charcoal grill is one of the most authentic and traditional ways to carry out the art of BBQ. While barbecue enthusiasts have moved on to modern grill types like electric and gas-powered, the unique smoky flavor of the charcoal grill is something that cannot be easily replicated.

One of the peculiarities of charcoal grills is that they don’t come with a simple on/off switch, and as such, they require quite a bit of effort to get them going, put them out and clean them up after each use. It is important that a charcoal grill be put out after use for safety and fuel conservation reasons. In this article, we’ll show you how to put out a charcoal grill effectively so you can have a cleaner and more enjoyable grilling experience overall.

Why do You need to Put Out Your Charcoal Grill?

More often than not, you’ll have some lumps of charcoal still burning when you’ve finished grilling your food. Some might argue that a charcoal grill can be left out until all the charcoal is completely burnt and extinguished, but is that really the best practice?

It would be best if you put out a charcoal grill because it could pose a serious hazard to other people and animals, especially when you leave it unattended. It would be easy for people to assume that it’s been put out and not hot. Also, an animal can wander over, crash into it or even knock it over. And a burn from a charcoal grill can be pretty serious.

Furthermore, you could conserve fuel and save some charcoal for reuse by putting them out, thereby saving yourself some money.

How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill – 3 Different Methods

The exciting thing is that there are quite a number of ways to put out a charcoal grill. Note that you will need to have some equipment and supplies at arm’s length.

Put Out a Charcoal Grill

1. Method 1

What you need?

  • Aluminum foil
  • Bucket of water
  • Ash scoop
  • Heat resistant gloves
  • Grill tongs
  • Grill brush


Step 1: Cut off oxygen flow

The first step involves cutting off the oxygen supply to the coals so that the fire dies. Charcoal grills feature vents through which oxygen gets into the inner chamber to support the coal burning. Typically, you’ll have a vent on the top and bottom of the cooking chamber. Start by closing these vents to cut off oxygen inflow. It can take a very long time for burning charcoal to get extinguished, so you should check on the coal at regular intervals.

Step 2: Clean out briquettes and ash

When you notice that the burning coal has been extinguished, the next thing to do is remove the briquettes and clean out the ash. Remove whatever briquettes are left with the grill tong, but be careful when handling the briquettes, as some could still be running hot even if they look cold. If the briquettes are still hot, you can dip them in a bucket of water to cool them down as you pick them. Separate the coal that could be reused from the ones to be thrown out. With your ash scoop or any other suitable material, scoop out all ash. Don’t dispose of the ash just anywhere but pour them on an aluminum foil sheet.

Step 3: Dispose

Once you’ve scooped all the waste briquettes and ash onto an aluminum foil, wrap it up carefully and dispose of it into the trash. Ensure that there is no hot or warm coal left before you dispose of it.

Step 4: Clean the grill

After cleaning out the briquettes and the ash, you should clean up the grill in preparation for subsequent use. Clean the vents and other pats with a grill brush, clean the grates, and clean the cooking chamber thoroughly. Pay attention to the vents to ensure they are clean and ready for the next time you’ll need to use the grill.

2. Method 2

What you need?

  • Aluminum foil
  • Grill tongs
  • Heat resistant gloves
  • Ash Scoop
  • Bucket of water
  • Grill brush


Step 1: Cut off oxygen flow

Just like with the first method, the first thing you’ll have to do is cut off the flow of oxygen into the grill by closing off all the vents through which air may get in and leave for an hour. Also, close the lid of the grill.

Step 2: Dip the briquettes in water

Instead of waiting for the burning coals to get extinguished entirely, you can speed up the process by dipping them in water. With the grill tong, grab the briquettes one by one and dip them in the bucket of water until they are fully extinguished. Place the briquettes on aluminum foil afterward. Once they dry completely, you can reuse them for grilling at a later time.

Step 3: Clean out the ash

Scoop all the ash into an aluminum foil, wrap up properly and dispose of. Next, clean your grates, vents, and cooking chamber to prepare the grill for the next cookout.

3. Method 3

While we advise that you never dump water on your charcoal grill to put it out because of the potentially adverse effects. However, if you’re using open-pit charcoal fire to grill,  you are allowed to put the coals out by pouring water on them.,

You could be camping outdoors or on a trip where you’re required to grill some food over open-pit charcoal. When you’re done, carefully pour water over the coals, making sure that the water is evenly distributed over the bed of coals.

Can I Pour Water on the Charcoal to Put It Out?

Can I Pour Water on the Charcoal to Put It Out

Everyone knows that water puts the fire out, and while pouring some over burning charcoal will surely put it off, you shouldn’t do it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you’ll quickly make a mess on your grill when you pour water on it. When the water mixes with the ash in your ash pan, what you get is caked ash that’ll be harder to clean out.

The other reason why you shouldn’t put the charcoal out by pouring water on it is to preserve the integrity of your grill. Generally, grills are not designed to go through sudden and drastic temperature changes. When you pour water on charcoal burning at high temperatures, thermal shock can cause some significant damage to the grill.


If you’ve been wondering how to put out your charcoal grill when you’re done cooking, we hope you’ve learned how to go about the process and do it effectively. The process is not in any way complicated, you only have to know the right steps to follow.

Hempen Hill BBQ recommends that you never throw water over the charcoal grill to put it out, as this can cause damage to the grill and cause a burst of hot steam that could burn you. The first thing you should always do is cut off the oxygen flow by shutting off the vents.

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