Charcoal grills

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Joined Sep 17, 2018
So the weather is finally starting to get a little better here so that means more outside cooking for me. I always seem to have the problem of charcoal left over in my Weber 18 inch even after cooking for my whole family. I've tried less charcoal, but with so much open area left my cook times are usually shortened a lot. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with either the Weber 14 inch or something like a Yakatori style grill.
 
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
When cooking small portions I often bank the coals to one side of an 18” Weber, but only cook on that side. Depending on how the coals are banked, the fire can be too hot and cooking can actually go too fast. But with the fire banked properly the only net effect is having a much smaller cooking surface.
 
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Joined Jan 8, 2010
Like Brian says....
But I also have a Webber 14 " smoker.
I often use the bottom part for grilling. Multi functional, but not cheap.
Back to the 18": after cooking, cover and close the vents at the bottom and top and you should be able to re-use your charcoal
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
Use as much coal as you need, kill the air and re use what's left next time along with additional coal. I'm in the habit of putting all extra coal or wood into a galvanized steel ash bucket like this (some of my smokers and lids don't have vents to close). Put the lid on and the fire goes out pretty fast. Really useful for saving fuel and closing up shop fast so you can leave events in a reasonable amount of time.

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521
186
Joined Sep 17, 2018
When cooking small portions I often bank the coals to one side of an 18” Weber, but only cook on that side. Depending on how the coals are banked, the fire can be too hot and cooking can actually go too fast. But with the fire banked properly the only net effect is having a much smaller cooking surface.
Do you use one of those coal holders or just dump them in the side? I have tried this method but I'm not quite sure how deep the coals should be when banked to a side.
 
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
Well, neither. I artfully arrange the coals (briquettes, most often) in a relatively even multi-layered area the size of the food I’m going to cook. I find 3 layers burns hot and long enough for most things that want a hot fire. If using lump charcoal I try to do the same but it’s often less orderly.

For low and slow indirect, like a slab of ribs, I dump a pile on one side, Mount the meat on the other, close down the vents to keep the temp low and let it go. Good for about 3 hours.
 
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
I meant that if I don't pile the coals and spread them evenly over the bottom I lose heat really fast even with vent control.
More surface area for oxygen so it will burn out fast and ash over if you're using briquettes. Once it's ashed over it's going to die out.
 
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Joined Mar 25, 2015
So the weather is finally starting to get a little better here so that means more outside cooking for me. I always seem to have the problem of charcoal left over in my Weber 18 inch even after cooking for my whole family. I've tried less charcoal, but with so much open area left my cook times are usually shortened a lot. I was wondering if anyone has had any experience with either the Weber 14 inch or something like a Yakatori style grill.
Less coals used in a concentrated area..... I use mesquite and other mediums at times. You have to bite it on cost for flavor sometimes or use the gas grill. But some container to suck out the oxygen out of the air will help save them for another round. Small metal garbage can with a lid will work.
From an era long ago.... my dad would drop the hot coals in water, drain and let dry for another day....or he'd cook on an open grill circa 1800's and put the coals in the newer weber and shut the vents....... of course he also served us powdered milk in regular reused milk cartons, and have us clean the spokes on our bikes with coke and tin foil. But when you're pinching pennies, you've got to experiment.
 
521
186
Joined Sep 17, 2018
Less coals used in a concentrated area..... I use mesquite and other mediums at times. You have to bite it on cost for flavor sometimes or use the gas grill. But some container to suck out the oxygen out of the air will help save them for another round. Small metal garbage can with a lid will work.
From an era long ago.... my dad would drop the hot coals in water, drain and let dry for another day....or he'd cook on an open grill circa 1800's and put the coals in the newer weber and shut the vents....... of course he also served us powdered milk in regular reused milk cartons, and have us clean the spokes on our bikes with coke and tin foil. But when you're pinching pennies, you've got to experiment.
So do you take the used coals and put them in a chimney starter or something? Do you also add fresh to that? Another issue I have is I always feel like I am dumping the coals at the wrong time. If I wait to have the top layer ash over the middle and lower ones burn out too fast, but I don't want to dump a bunch of half lit coals either. I haven't really had any problems in my smoker, just when I am doing some things like burgers or chicken on the 18 inch.
 
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Joined Mar 25, 2015
So do you take the used coals and put them in a chimney starter or something? Do you also add fresh to that? Another issue I have is I always feel like I am dumping the coals at the wrong time. If I wait to have the top layer ash over the middle and lower ones burn out too fast, but I don't want to dump a bunch of half lit coals either. I haven't really had any problems in my smoker, just when I am doing some things like burgers or chicken on the 18 inch.
As soon as your done cooking. Waiting for ash is just burning coals. Airtight can you will need. Fire needs oxygen. Mix old coals with some fresh coals then.
 
521
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
As soon as your done cooking. Waiting for ash is just burning coals. Airtight can you will need. Fire needs oxygen. Mix old coals with some fresh coals then.
Yeah I usually close all my vents after cooking to stop the burning, but I usually just leave them in the grate after removing any ashes from the bottom and just dumping a new chimney of coals on top of the old coals. Not sure if that's the right way to do it.
 
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
Although I do the same, I find that recycled charcoal burns a lot differently. Like it’s more porous, perhaps, and needs a lot of help from new charcoal. So much more help that I often don’t know why I waste my time being so thrifty. But that’s me and I probably couldn’t live with myself any other way. :)
 
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Joined Mar 25, 2015
Yeah I usually close all my vents after cooking to stop the burning, but I usually just leave them in the grate after removing any ashes from the bottom and just dumping a new chimney of coals on top of the old coals. Not sure if that's the right way to do it.
That works, they just burn till they choke from lack of oxygen no matter how you do it.
I was a youngster when my dad use to drop the hot coals in water. Personally never tried it myself. I just saw the post about saving charcoal and it tickled the old memory.. Sometimes I have par cooked another item on the coals for the next day or two. I just consider the coals are part of cost of the meal truly.
 
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
I'm embarrassed to say I have never used anything but Kingsford. I thought about getting real hard wood charcoal but don't know if I'm experienced enough to deal with the burn variables.
Forget the burn variables. Its great information academically, but, these details matter to those who are deep into smoking and grilling. If you're a weekend warrior who just likes to grill during the grilling season, just about anything will do just fine. The only real information that you should concern yourself with is the difference in characteristics between briquettes, lump charcoal and various wood species. Think of their differences in terms of the types of stoves - gas, electric and induction and use them according to what you're goals are.

For example, if you're looking to slow cook or smoke some proteins, lump charcoal and hardwoods such as nut and fruit woods are good choices because they're generally slow burning and produce a smoke that has good flavor (not forgetting the legendary characteristics of mesquite).

If you're looking to just grill up some meat for dinner, choose your fuel source the same way you would choose your heat source in the kitchen. If you want high heat for searing, choose a fuel that burns hot such as briquettes. The trade off is that fuels that burn the hottest tend to burn the fastest so, you're ideal temperature window is shorter. On the other hand, if you want to sear a protein and then finish it with indirect heat, a cooler burning fuel such as lump charcoal or wood or a combination of the two would be good choices. Then again, you can accomplish this with briquettes, too. However, if Im going to sear and then use indirect heat, I tend to favor hard woods.

To answer your original post, the only time I save the coals is when I use mostly wood and I want to save the left over charcoal made from the wood for one reason or another. Admittedly, I rarely do this with the exception of the times I can get my hands on some hard to get wood like Pecan, Hickory, Mesquite, Apple, Peach etc. :) Otherwise, bring out the Shop Vac, get rid of the leftovers and start with fresh fuel.

By the way, none of this applies to instant light charcoal. ;-)

Cheers. :)
 

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