How to Put Out a Charcoal Grill

by | Sep 30, 2022 | Grilling | 0 comments

It’s that time of year again! The weather is warming up, and you’re probably winding down from a fun summer party. 

But before we all go home, there are some things on our minds, and we need to put out the grill safely. 

So what do we do? Let’s find out the best way to safely put out a charcoal grill.  

There are two correct ways to put out a hot grill. The recommended method, but also the slowest, is to just close all the air vents and leave them for 48 hours. With the lack of oxygen, the fire will burn itself out. For a quicker result, you can individually remove (with tongs) each piece of charcoal and drop it in a bucket of water. 

What to do first with your grill

The first thing you need to do is have your grill somewhere safe while it is cooling down.  

You need to consider anything flammable, children, pets, and, if possible, move it off the decking or dry grassy areas.  

You have to remember that charcoal can be extremely hot. Once it is safe, you can start to prepare to shut the grill down. 

What do you need to put out on your grill?

You don’t need too many things to put out the grill, but to do it safely, it is best to be prepared. Make sure you have some of the following items:

How to close the air vents on the grill: Shut it down.

Make sure you have your heatproof gloves on for this part. There are a few types available; thick leather gloves, oven mitts, or my favorite, thick rubber gloves.  

Whichever method you decide to use, this step is required regardless; you have to shut down the grill. That means that you close off all the vents that allow air into the grill. Fires need oxygen to burn. Remove the oxygen and put out the fire.  

Look at your grill. There could be ventilation ports on the top, sides, and bottom. Close each one, but make sure you have your gloves on.  

grill vent

Now you wait. It can take up to 48 hours for the charcoal to extinguish. But once you have done it this way, you can resume the charcoal. More on this later. 

How to quickly put out your charcoal grill

You can put out the grill quickly and safely using this next method. Make sure you have a bucket of water, tongs, and a metal scooper on hand. 

Wearing the gloves, pick out each piece of charcoal and place it into the bucket. Once all the large pieces are extinguished, use the scoop to get the remaining embers from the grill and place them in the water.  

I like doing it his way if I know I am going out for a few days and won’t be able to check on the grill. I have peace of mind and know that I will not burn anything down.

It also makes the cleanup much easier. I can return to the grill next time knowing that it is empty and I can brush it down when cool to start up the next barbecue. The quicker we can get grilling, the better. 

How to save your charcoal for your next barbecue

If you choose to “shut it down” and leave the charcoal inside the grill, you can save the charcoal for your next barbecue feast.  

You can decide to leave the charcoal on the grill. Try to remove the ash, and you will have the perfect amount of charcoal available to start your next barbecue. 

To remove the charcoal and dispose of it safely, it is best to use an aluminium sheet. You can remove the charcoal with the tongs and scooper and place them on the aluminium sheet so you can fold it up and keep it in a safe, non-flammable container for another day. 

Pro tip: Before you start grilling, make sure you have a non-flammable trash can nearby. You can store used charcoal in this or bags of cold charcoal ready to take to the general trash can once it has cooled. 

Should you pour water over the charcoal?

I don’t advise pouring water all over the hot charcoal to put it out. Pouring water over hot charcoal can send pieces of charcoal flying if done too quickly.

It can also pose a risk to your beloved grill, especially to any ceramic parts.

Plus, it makes a hell of a mess and you will regret your life choices. 

Once the grill has cooled, clean it.

Keeping your grill clean is essential to producing the best-grilled food you can.  

Once you have removed the larger pieces and the ash, they can be safely disposed of or stored as described above. You can start to clean it, ready for the next cookout. 

Get your grill brush and water ready. Use the water to help the scrubbing action and remove the stuck-on food from the grill. Soap is not vital, but it can help if you have some difficult-to-move bits in the grill. 

Soap is not essential but it can help. Use it with warm water and the grill brush and you’ll be able to get any grill clean. 

I prefer to clean mine on a hot sunny day so I can position the newly cleaned grill toward the sun and let it dry. If you can’t allow it to dry outdoors, make sure you have some rags available to help with the cleanup. 

Pro tip: Pay special attention to cleaning the vents and drying them off. They are prone to rust.

Now you can put out a charcoal grill safely.

Barbecues are fun; it’s a way we can spend time with friends and family outdoors, sharing the experience of a good meal and good company. But you have to remember you are working with fire.  

Be careful. If you have an accident, call the appropriate services.  

Ensure that you are aware of the dangers in the area and educate your children and pets on safety measures. 




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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