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MrMike 03-11-2007 03:55 PM

Putting the fire out...
Now that I've started using wood and charcoal, I'm reminded of my father's grilling practices. He was a chimney man - he had fashioned a chimney charcoal starter before they were commercially available. His was about 3 feet high, which he stuffed with newspaper, blow down twigs, used charcoal (more on this..), and 'new' charcoal. He'd light it, much to the consternation of the neighbors, because it made a hell of a lot of smoke. But it would be ready in 20 minutes and we'd grill. soon as the food was off the grill, he'd grab the watering can and extinguish the fire. We all thought this was the height of stupidity, as a) we were dining not 10 feet from said grill and airborne ash really flies and b) why not just let it burn itself out? It's Kingsford, for Chrissakes. We can afford it. His rationale was that the used charcoal had value. My dad is, and still is, a cheapskate (it must be genetic...I'm pretty cheap myself, as are my brothers...). He said that 'used' charcoal started faster, and helped the new stuff go up. Even at our tender young ages, we could see that reasoning (must have been the genes kicking in..). But, we pointed out, he'd even made whole new fires out of used charcoal (we saved it in a large bucket..). Then he discovered propane, bought a series of cheap gas grills and never looked back. I, after years of gas grilling (and a couple of gas smoking), have returned to my wood/charcoal roots. The chimney turned out to be totally correct. But putting the fire out instead of letting it burn itself out? Dopey or what?

Ron_L 03-11-2007 04:04 PM

I will usually let the fire burn itself out, but if I'm concerned about a fire hazard I will close down all of the vents to starve the fire. Used charcoal just isn't worth messing with to me, especially if its been extinguished with water.

Wine & Swine 03-11-2007 04:07 PM

Hey Mike, so what's cooking? I have never had much luck lighting (or relighting for that matter) charcoal that has gotten wet, so I would let it burn out.

tjus77 03-11-2007 05:52 PM

let it burn out. I open everything wide open when finished, then go out when I think the firebox is cool enough to spray some pam on to SEASON it again. Looks brand new all the time. Haven't lost any paint so far.

Arlin_MacRae 03-12-2007 06:16 AM

I shut 'er down and close 'er up and use the unburned wood in my chimney next time.

backyardchef 03-12-2007 06:28 AM

I shut it all down, too and if there are big chunks of wood and/or charcoal left, I will start the next fire using that, but the rest of the little pebbles of coals and ash will all just go in the trash.

DaChief 03-12-2007 06:34 AM

Can't say as i ever tried water...that would make a mess! I shut the vents and if enough is left, use it on the grill or to start the next chimney.

CarbonToe 03-12-2007 07:26 AM

I've always just shut the vents and snuff the fire out.

Smokin Gator 03-12-2007 07:31 AM

I too shut all the vents and then reuse the leftovers. I don't put them in the chimney though... just have on the grate and put new stuff over whatever is there.

Puppyboy 03-12-2007 07:37 AM

When I first started I poured water on the coals ONCE. While cleaning now a bigger mess, it was then I decided to just shut it down and allow it to burn it self out.

SmokeyBear 03-12-2007 07:55 AM

I use a BGE; so, water would be a big negative.

I have been shutting down all of the vents and letting the fire choke out. I'm using the ash and what coals don't look like they have any goody left in them as filler material in a bare spot in my back yard.

VGuilford 03-12-2007 08:00 AM

I do same as everyone else. Shut down all vents and reuse whatever is worth using the next time.

willkat98 03-12-2007 08:07 AM


Originally Posted by Arlin_MacRae
I shut 'er down and close 'er up and use the unburned wood in my chimney next time.

These things can actually go out pretty quickly.

I opened up the Weber kettle last night to see really nice sized briquettes in there from the last time (I close all vents immediately after cooking).

Got a good half chimney of used K out of it, and only needed a bit of new.

3/4 of a chimney held at 400* for one hour.

Closed it down and it probably will be enough for one more cook.

backyardchef 03-12-2007 08:50 AM

The only time I use water is when I have to clean out the coals immediately and don't have something firesafe with a lid to dump it all into. I'm pretty strict about making sure all the coals are extinguished before I walk away-- as anyone who was with me after the Paul Kirk class will tell you....I've heard to many bad stories. At the class someone left a mountain of smoldering coals on the pavement-- next to a huge stack of picnic benches. Yikes!

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