Storing charcoal in a cool, dry place is so important because direct sunlight is another enemy. Charcoal is created from wood chunks or particles that have been super-heated to leech all the moisture and hydrogen out of them.
The shelf life of good charcoal is indefinite if it’s stored in a way that avoids moisture or a lot of sunlight. Charcoal of a lesser quality can even be stored up to two years.
If you buy a bag of charcoal and don’t open it, then you’re most likely good. Just follow the rule of thumb when you store the charcoal: keep it in a garage or another climate-controlled environment, and make sure the bag doesn’t get wet.
Let’s say you use some charcoal, whether B&B Charcoal or the homemade variety. When the seasons change and fall or winter descends upon you suddenly, making grilling a less-than-optimal option, what should you do when storing charcoal?
You need to hold on to your charcoal — possibly for months.
This is an especially important consideration for people who buy in bulk. What do you do with excess charcoal, so it doesn’t go bad when you store it?
If you have excess charcoal you want to hold on to, the best option is to buy some five-gallon buckets, or another plastic or metal container.
Use Metal When Storing Charcoal
Metal containers such as old trash cans are a great vessel for storing charcoal because metal isn’t porous.
If you live in an environment where your garage isn’t subject to a lot of water, your metal garbage pail won’t rust and your charcoal will be free of water.
Plastic, sealable containers are good in all environments. Put your charcoal into those buckets, place them in a corner of the garage and seal them up. You’ll have fresh charcoal for next summer’s backyard BBQ party.
While wet or damaged charcoal is a bummer, it isn’t a danger to you despite what you may have heard. A popular old wives’ tale says that wet charcoal can spontaneously combust under the right circumstances. This has been thoroughly debunked.
Such a scenario is theoretically possible if you store your charcoal next to a radiator or another heat source, however, which is why you’ll want to keep it in a cool, dry place.