does charcoal go bad

Does Charcoal Go Bad?

If you’ve ever mentioned that you want to buy a grill while sitting with your friends on the terrace for dinner, someone has definitely advised you to buy a charcoal one. So let’s figure out why this type of grill is good, and how to choose and store the best charcoal so that the taste of the cooked food is truly perfect. And finally, we will answer the important question “How long is charcoal good for?” Let’s see.

What is Charcoal?

When wood is heated at a high temperature without oxygen, that is, pyrolysis, the residual carbon product you get is called charcoal. While it burns at a high temperature of 1,100 degrees Celsius, its pores help control the heating temperature.

Charcoal grills are fuelled with char briquettes, which are charcoal for smoking food. When using it for grilling meat, it is advisable that you adhere to the guidelines set by the Minnesota Department of Health. For ground meat like beef and pork, the temperature should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit, for eggs, the ideal temperature is 160 degrees, while for poultry, it is 165 degrees.

How Many Types of Charcoal Are There?

As of now, 8 varieties of coal have been produced. These are as follows:

  • Lump Charcoal
  • Match Lighting 
  • Coconut Shell 
  • Binchotan or Japanese lump 
  • Charcoal briquettes compressed
  • Activated 
  • Industrial 
  • Extruded 

Among these, char briquettes and lump charcoal are used for barbecues while activated one is used as a purification agent.  Industrial char is used for fuelling furnaces and coconut coal is perfect for small grills. Binchotan, an expensive variety, does not let out any smoke or odour and is ignited with blowtorches or chimneys.

Can Charcoal Go Bad?

Does charcoal expire? Yes. While coal usually lasts long, chances are high that it will go bad if it comes in contact with moisture. The pores of it easily soak moisture and that can dampen the char, making it of no use as fuel. Hence, it is imperative to store it in a cool and dry place. 

It does not catch fire spontaneously, contrary to the popular belief. However, if the coal contains added chemicals or impurities, it has a higher expiry rate. Do charcoal briquettes go bad? Yes, if the chemical with which it is slathered dries off or evaporates. It might not be wet, but the chemical needs to be reapplied regularly to prevent the expiration of the briquettes. 

What can make Charcoal Go Bad?

  • Not storing the coal properly: As mentioned above, moistened charcoal loses its property to combust when stored in a damp or wet place. Exposure to acidic rain can also ruin it. 
  • Improper maintenance: Does charcoal go bad if not maintained? Since coal comes packed in paper bags, dampening is possible if you live in a humid zone or if there is a frequent occurrence of fog or dew. Torn paper bags or unsealed containers can also make char go bad. 

Tips to Prevent Charcoal From Going Bad:

  • If you stay in a damp or humid environment, it’s best to store coal in airtight containers.
  • Seal the container or the package you use to store coal. If you have more than you need, then put it in a zip-lock bag.
  • If the coal gets wet by any chance, it is better to burn it at a higher temperature than usual, like, 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • When putting the it in the package or container, make sure that it is completely dry.
  • Before buying coal from any brand, check the expiry date, that is, the duration of the shelf life.

How to Store Charcoal Properly?

Choose the Right Container

How long does charcoal last in storage?  It can last for at least a year if kept dry. No form of coal has an expiry date if properly stored. If you are wondering how long do charcoal briquettes last, rest assured that it can last for as long as 2 years, provided the container is sealed and vacuumed. Metal containers can be especially helpful in such cases, as metal does not have pores like char and won’t let water in. Bagged coal briquettes of all sizes from commercial sources do not self-ignite, hence you don’t have to worry about its storage. 

Choose the Perfect Location For Storage

Location is highly vital when it comes to storing coal. As emphasized above, a dry, cool place is the best storage location to keep it. Also, please ensure that the place is not exposed to glaring sunlight because it can also hinder the effectiveness. Hence, a basement or an outdoor shed is the best place to store charcoal.

A Final Word

We hope that from this article you have cleared all your doubts on “does charcoal go bad”? Just make sure that you buy the coal from a reputed brand, with a long shelf life. Moreover, when putting it to your barbeque grill, clean and dry the grill thoroughly. Since coal is a clean fuel, you can enjoy your cooked food without fear of pollution.

What place and method of coal storage do you choose? Share your tips in the comments!

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