How Long Does Charcoal Last? (Everything Explained)

When you’re considering buying charcoal, it’s essential to know how long it will last in your grill or smoker.

Charcoal lasts much longer than people think, but the lifespan depends on several factors, including the kind of charcoal and the conditions in which you use it.

It’s also essential to store charcoal correctly to get the most out of every bag or bucket.

How Long Does Charcoal Last

Here are some guidelines on how long does charcoal last and how to keep them long properly, so they last as long as possible when grilling or smoking your next meal.

What Is Charcoal?

Charcoal is a carbon (char) and hydrogen (coke) solid fuel. It occurs naturally, but it can also be created by burning wood or other organic materials. Making charcoal entails heating the material until it burns away.

Charcoal is used in various items, including toothpaste and soap, as well as for cooking, heating houses and buildings, and making chemicals.

What Are The Main Types Of Charcoal?

Lump Charcoal:

The most common type of charcoal is lump charcoal. It is created from split tree trunks or branches that have been dried and ground into little pieces. Lump charcoal burns extremely hot and has no flavor.

Charcoal Briquettes:

Charcoal briquettes are pressed briquettes created from pure anthracite coal for convenient storage and transportation. They offer a variety of flavors and burn at a moderate temperature.


Binchotan is similar to coconut shell charcoal in that it is formed from woody materials such as wood chips, tree trunks, and branches that have been burnt over open fires for hours until they have turned dark brown and aromatic. Binchotan is one of the oldest cooking fuels still in use today. However, it is also expensive and difficult to find outside of Japan.

Hardwood Briquettes:

Oak, hickory, pecan, and walnut are used to make hardwood pellets. These pellets are soaked in water to remove the bark, then baked until hard enough to keep their shape when pressed into briquettes. Hardwood pellets have a little smoke flavor and a strong woodsy fragrance.

Coconut Shell Charcoal:

Coconut shell charcoal is the most widely used charcoal in the world, as well as one of the most environmentally friendly. Coconut shell charcoal is created by burning coconut husks and shells in a pit oven.

The procedure yields a very pure form of carbon, which may be utilized in any type of cooking or as an ingredient in your favorite recipes. The charcoals are handcrafted from fresh coconuts harvested from sustainable farms, making them just as healthful as bamboo or sugar cane charcoals.

How Long Does Charcoal Last?

Charcoal lasts longer than you might think: it’s the perfect fuel for the ultimate outdoor barbecue experience. When you’re grilling, rotisserie cooking, or skewering meat with charcoal briquettes, you want to ensure that your product is as fresh as possible.

If you’re purchasing lump charcoal. In that instance, most will provide you with 2-3 hours of burn duration (however if you use direct heat, such as on a grill or over a direct flame, you will receive substantially less time). Buying briquettes instead of lump charcoal, on the other hand, will last 4-5 hours, depending on how long you use your grill.

How Long Can Charcoal Burn?

It’s a good question, and the answer is: it depends. Charcoal burns for 1 to 5 hours, with an average of 2 hours. The longer you leave a charcoal fire burning, the more intense it will be. So don’t let it go too long!

Tips To Keep Charcoal Burning Longer?

Charcoal is a great way to keep your home lit and warm and do other tasks like cooking, but it can’t last forever.

Here are some tips to help keep your charcoal burning longer:

  1. Make sure there are enough charcoals in the grill to last until they need to be replenished. This will keep them from going out, saving you money on gas and wood!
  2. If at all possible, avoid opening the grill cover while it is still hot! When removing food off the grill, you should use tongs or something similar.
  3. If one side of the charcoal starts to burn faster than the other, try moving it around so that both sides have equal time on the grill.

How Long Should Charcoal Burn Before Cooking?

How Long Should Charcoal Burn Before Cooking

Long Burning Charcoal:

Charcoal usually takes 5 to 10 minutes to heat up to high heat, but it can sometimes take up to 25 or 30 minutes to reach medium-high heat. You want to let your charcoal get hot enough to see some smoke but not so hot that it’s burning.

To figure out if your coals are ready for use, hold one in your hand and watch how long it takes for the coal to start glowing red. If you don’t see any smoke coming out of the coal or if it takes longer than 10 minutes, then you’re still going at too slow a pace—you’ll need to increase the temperature of your grill (or barbecue) by turning up the burner until you do see smoke coming out of your coal.

Does Charcoal Go Bad?

Like many other things, charcoal won’t “expire” or go bad per se. Still, its potency will gradually decrease until it is no longer effective. The charcoal in your grill and smoker will last indefinitely, but if you use it too much, it will lose effectiveness.

Charcoal is made from carbon burned at high temperatures in an oxygen-free environment. These conditions are infrequent on earth, so most carbon is formed from burning plant matter such as wood or charcoal briquettes.

Video Credit By Nine PBS YouTube Channel

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Charcoal After It Gets Wet?

Unfortunately, if you use cheap charcoal and it gets wet, you won’t be able to use it again. However, if you have high-quality charcoal, you can dry it and use it again.

How Long Do Coals Stay Hot?

The coals are hot enough to cook on for at least 4 to 8 hours. This depends on the size of the coal, the heat, and the overall quality of the coal. Medium-sized coals will give you the best results.

How Long Do Charcoal Briquettes Last?

When placed on a grill, a charcoal briquette will last for nearly 4-5 hours. During the first hour or so, the briquette will produce a burst of heat that will be highest in temperature, followed by a gradual decrease as the heat is dispersed in the air. 

How Long Does Lump Charcoal Burn?

Lump charcoal can burn for 6-8 hours, depending on the number of coals used. The amount of time they will burn depends on the coal’s quality, the brazier’s size, and the charcoal’s quality. 

The Verdict:

We hope this blog has clarified everything you wanted to know about charcoal. Many people often buy charcoal without knowing everything there is to know about it. With this blog, you will know just how long charcoal lasts, tips to keep it last long, and many other details crucial to your charcoal’s lifespan. If you have any other questions about charcoal, please feel free to comment. We’re glad we could help answer all your questions!


  • Troy Miller

    Hi! My name is Troy, and I'm the founder of Grill Taster. I have a lot of experience in grilling because I've been testing out products for over a decade. With almost ten years as a professional griller and help to thousands of aspiring BBQ masters, you can trust me to help you find the best grills and accessories on the market so that you don't have to waste time or money on junk. With my family enjoying some summertime fun just outside Carolina, we're all looking forward to your comments and questions!

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