How Long Does A Charcoal Grill Stay Hot?



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If you have a charcoal grill and want to know how long it will stay hot, then you’ve come to the right place. Knowing how long you can leave your grill going and how to keep it burning longer is an important part of the grilling process, and we are here to help give you all the information you need to know.

So, how long does a charcoal grill stay hot? Well, a charcoal grill will stay hot if you keep it burning, so it will last until you stop adding coal or lighter fluid. However, if you let your grill burn out, then the heat will be gone within fifteen minutes and begin cooling off.

If you’re not done grilling, then there are some things that you can do to keep the heat last longer. Read ahead and learn all the ways to keep your charcoal grill fire going for the longest-lasting heat.

How Long Will The Heat Last?

Charcoal grills, just like in the name, need charcoal to work. To use these grills, you place charcoal in the bottom of the grill and add lighter fluid. Then, you use a lighter or toss in a lit match, to fire up the grill. This heat is not sustained the same way as a gas grill, because you are simply burning materials, so to keep the fire going you need to add more charcoal or lighter fluid. With this, it could burn for a few hours if kept up.

However, unlike gas grills, if you don’t keep up the fire yourself the coal will burn out fairly quickly. So, even doing things like moving the coal around with a grilling tool can help stoke the fire so that it doesn’t lose heat. Without doing something to fuel the flames, you will not be able to grill your food properly and you could risk the fire burning out. This will cause you to have to restart the fire and wait for it to heat up.

The more times that you have to start your grill, the more the charcoal will burn. This will likely make restarting the fire tougher and tougher as you go, and it could end up burning the coal out so that it won’t get to the grilling heat that you need for proper cooking.

So, the heat will last as long as you are keeping the fire going and sustaining the heat of the grill. If not, then the fire will die within half an hour or so and you will need to relight it.

burning charcoal

How To Keep The Heat Going?

If you have a charcoal grill and want to keep the heat up to cook your meats on it, then you should know a few ways that will help keep your fire burning nice and hot. These habits are great to get into so that you continually do them as you grill. These tips will keep your fire lasting longer so that you get the perfectly grilled, or seared, meat that you were hoping for.

Stoking The Fire

As mentioned before, you should not let your fire burn out by leaving the charcoal as it is. In fact, you should be moving the coal around to stoke the fire throughout your entire time using the grill. If you let the coals stay in one place, the burn will be uneven and it could cause your flames to lessen, and eventually go out. If this happens you will have to restart the process of lighting the grill over again.

Because a charcoal grill takes about 25 to 30 minutes to be at full heat enough for cooking food, you could end up waiting for a while for it to heat up again if the fire goes out. This can be frustrating and it can be a pain if you are cooking for others who are waiting on you. So, get into the habit of moving the coals around the get a more even burn as you grill so that your grill’s heat will last as long as possible.

Adding More Lighter Fluid

If stoking your grill’s fire isn’t doing the job, then you may need to add some more lighter fluid to help the flames get going again. The best way to do this is to pour some liquid into 2 or 3 different places around the grill, this will allow the heat to be more even, and heat up all around the grill at the same time. Then, you will use a long match or lighter to ignite the flames in each of those areas.

Although the lighter fluid is not meant to flare up, it is still recommended to take the proper precautions and not pour too much at a time or stand too close to the open flame. The flames may be larger at first because of the fluid burning, but after it settles down and the fluid burns up, the charcoal will be burning at a steady pace and keeping its heat for grilling your meat.

Add Pieces Of Newspaper

If the fire is dying down a little and you want to keep it going, then adding a few small pieces of paper, most commonly newspaper, around the grill can help you a lot. Scatter multiple pieces around the whole space of the grill so that when you light the paper, the charcoal will catch on some of the flames. This will keep the heat from dying down too much and not cooking the meat all the way through.

This also allows you to add heat to areas where the fire is not as high, and it needs to be evened out. It also keeps you from having one area with food that is not as well cooked as other pieces that are on other areas of the grill with a higher flame beneath it. The meat will have an even flame and grill evenly for all pieces so that you don’t have to leave some pieces on longer to cook thoroughly.

Add More Charcoal

Sometimes, in order to keep the heat consistent enough to grill, you will need to add more charcoal to the grill. Adding more in intervals will keep the heat of the grill at a more consistent temperature for better grilling results. After you add the extra charcoal, you will want to open the vents on the side of the grill to allow the air to circulate and feed oxygen to the fire.

Doing this every 30 minutes will keep the fire burning hot, and it will allow you to have the most thoroughly cooked meat. The heat will stay consistent if you do this so that the inside of the food never gets below a certain temperature. This keeps the food tasting its best.


If your grill doesn’t have sufficient airflow while you are cooking, then the fire will burn out much quicker. Allowing for proper airflow will give oxygen to the fire and feed the flames enough to keep the heat at a consistent temperature.

Every time you stoke the fire, you should adjust the grill so that the charcoal has enough airflow to help catch the flames. If there isn’t enough air coming through, then the fire may burn out before the charcoal has a chance to catch the flame.

Removing Ashes

When you use your grill, you will have ashes left over from the burnt charcoal that you used previously. This can add up and cause the flames to burn out more quickly. So, it is also important to remove some of the ashes from the grill before trying to start it up. The ashes will smother the charcoal so that it can’t get the airflow it needs to feed the fire.

Q: Will old charcoal burn enough to grill with?

A: In short, no. Older charcoal can have reduced grilling properties that keep it from lighting easily, and from staying hot for a longer time. If you want your heat to be long-lasting enough for decent grilling times, then you want to use newer charcoal so that you won’t have any problems with its lighting, or retaining heat.

Q: Can I use charcoal that has gotten damp?

A: It is not recommended to use charcoal that has gotten damp even when it has dried out a bit because the result is not as good as dry charcoal. Damp charcoal can be frustrating to light, and it will likely not hold the flame well enough to grill properly.

Q: Can I grill frozen food if my flame is strong enough?

A: It is not recommended to grill frozen food, so you should always allow the meat to defrost to room temperature before you put it on the grill. However, if cooking frozen food is unavoidable, then you will need to extend the total grilling time. You will also need to add more charcoal to allow for the longer grilling time needed.

See Also:
Why Don’t Gas Grills Use Lava Rocks Anymore
Charcoal Grill Vs Gas Grill : Pros And Cons
10 Tips for Grilling at Night ( in the Dark)

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One response to “How Long Does A Charcoal Grill Stay Hot?”

  1. altcoin Avatar

    Good post! We will be linking to this particularly great post on our site. Keep up the great writing

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