Hey there, BBQ enthusiasts!
It’s Ryan here, owner of this website and self-proclaimed grill enthusiast. I’m excited to share this post with y’all today because it tackles one of the most commonly asked questions I get: Can you grill with wet charcoal?
Now, before we dive into this topic, I want to make it clear that I’m not here to tell you what to do. Grilling is all about experimentation and finding what works best for you and your taste buds.
That being said, it’s always good to have a little knowledge under your belt before you start firing up the grill. And that’s exactly what I’m here to do – give you the lowdown on grilling with wet charcoal so you can decide for yourself if it’s something you want to try.
So, let’s get started.
Is it possible to grill with wet charcoal? Cheap briquettes may not work well when wet and should be replaced with a new bag of dry coals. However, wet lump charcoal can be dried out in the sun and used for grilling.
What exactly is Wet Charcoal?
First and foremost, let us define wet charcoal. Wet charcoal is simply charcoal that has been soaked in water (or another liquid) before being used to grill. This procedure is intended to slow the rate at which the charcoal burns, which may have some advantages (more on that later).
Wet charcoal, as opposed to dry charcoal, takes longer to light and reach a high temperature. Wet charcoal also makes it more difficult to control the temperature of the grill because it burns at a slower and more consistent rate.
Is it Safe to Grill With Wet Charcoal?
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: Is it safe to grill with wet charcoal?
The short answer is, yes, it is generally safe to grill with wet charcoal. However, there are a few precautions you should take to ensure a safe grilling experience:
- Use a charcoal chimney starter: A charcoal chimney starter is a simple and effective way to light wet (and dry) charcoal. It helps to evenly distribute the heat and gets the coals burning faster.
- Don’t use any accelerants: It’s never a good idea to use accelerants, such as lighter fluid, on wet charcoal. These chemicals can react with the water in the charcoal and create dangerous fumes. Stick to using a charcoal chimney starter or a natural fire starter (like newspaper or dry wood chips) to get the coals going.
- Monitor the temperature: As mentioned earlier, it can be more difficult to control the temperature of the grill when using wet charcoal. Make sure to keep an eye on the thermometer and adjust the vents as needed to maintain a consistent temperature.
Pros of Using Wet Charcoal for Grilling
Now that we’ve cleared up the safety concerns, let’s talk about the pros of using wet charcoal for grilling.
- Wet charcoal lights faster than dry charcoal: Because wet charcoal burns at a lower and more consistent rate, it can actually light faster than dry charcoal. This can be a big advantage for those who are short on time or just want to get grilling as soon as possible.
- It produces less smoke: Another benefit of wet charcoal is that it produces less smoke than dry charcoal. This can be particularly appealing for those who are sensitive to smoke or live in areas with strict outdoor cooking regulations.
- It can be more flavorful: Some people argue that wet charcoal can add a subtle, smoky flavor to the food that dry charcoal just can’t match. This is due to the moisture in the charcoal, which can give off steam as it cooks and infuse the food with a smoky taste.
Tips for Maximizing the Pros of Wet Charcoal
If you’re convinced by the pros of wet charcoal and want to give it a try, here are a few tips for maximizing its benefits:
- Use a charcoal chimney starter: As mentioned earlier, a charcoal chimney starter is a great way to get wet (and dry) charcoal burning quickly and evenly. Just fill the chimney with the wet charcoal, stuff some newspaper or dry wood chips in the bottom, and light it up.
- Experiment with different liquids: While water is the most common liquid used to soak charcoal, you can also try using other liquids to add different flavors to your food. Some ideas include apple cider vinegar, beer, or even fruit juice. Just be sure to use a food-safe liquid and not something like gasoline (yes, I’ve heard of people trying this – don’t do it!).
- Keep an eye on the grill temperature: As mentioned earlier, it can be more difficult to control the temperature of the grill when using wet charcoal. Make sure to keep an eye on the thermometer and adjust the vents as needed to maintain the desired temperature.
Cons of Using Wet Charcoal for Grilling
Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to grilling with wet charcoal. Here are a few potential downsides to consider:
- Wet charcoal takes longer to heat up: Because it burns at a lower and more consistent rate, wet charcoal takes longer to heat up than dry charcoal. This can be frustrating for those who are in a rush or just want to get grilling as soon as possible.
- It may not reach as high of a temperature as dry charcoal: Another potential drawback of wet charcoal is that it may not reach as high of a temperature as dry charcoal. This can be a problem for certain types of grilling, such as searing steak or cooking thicker cuts of meat.
- It can be more difficult to control the temperature of the grill: As mentioned earlier, wet charcoal burns at a lower and more consistent rate, which can make it more difficult to control the temperature of the grill. This can be frustrating for those who are used to the precise temperature control of dry charcoal.
Overcoming the Cons of Wet Charcoal
If you’re not deterred by the cons of wet charcoal and still want to give it a try, here are a few tips for overcoming some of these challenges:
- As previously stated, a charcoal chimney starter can help to speed up the heating process of wet charcoal. Simply fill the chimney with wet charcoal, stuff it with newspaper or dry wood chips, and light it. In about 15-20 minutes, the coals should be ready to use.
- Preheat the grill: Preheating the grill is another way to speed up the heating process of wet charcoal. This contributes to the formation of a hot bed of coals on which the wet charcoal can be built. Simply open the grill vents, place the wet charcoal in the centre, and let it sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking.
- Experiment with different grilling techniques: If you’re having trouble getting the grill temperature up when using wet charcoal, try experimenting with different grilling techniques. For example, to create a more versatile cooking environment, try a two-zone setup (a hot zone and a cooler zone). Alternatively, a sear burner or cast iron griddle can be used to generate high heat for searing meats.
Well, there you have it – a comprehensive guide to grilling with wet charcoal. As you can see, there are both pros and cons to using wet charcoal for grilling, and it ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you’re interested in giving it a try, we recommend starting with small amounts and closely monitoring the temperature of the grill to ensure that you get the desired results. Happy grilling!