Can You Keep Charcoal Outside?

Countless hours have been spent by backyard BBQ enthusiasts debating what’s the best way of storing charcoal. Some prefer to keep it outside, while others are adamant that it should only be stored indoors. So, which is the right way to go? Can you actually keep charcoal outside?

Yes, you can store charcoal outside, but you should try to protect it from the elements as much as possible. Rain is, of course, your number one enemy as it will make the charcoal wet and useless unless you leave it to dry before using it.

Read on to learn some tips and tricks about storing charcoal outside.

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Does Charcoal Have to Be Stored Inside?

There’s no rule or law commanding you to store your charcoal indoors. Is indoor storage the best option? Possibly. Is it the only option? Not really.

Many BBQ experts will tell you that it’s better to store your charcoal indoors because the moisture and humidity can cause it to go bad faster. However, if you live in a particularly dry climate, storing your charcoal outside is a perfectly viable option as well. If you live in Nevada, you could probably leave a bag of charcoal outside all year long and it would be just fine.

Even in wetter climates, taking simple precautions, such as using a weatherproof storage container, can help protect your charcoal from the elements and allow you to leave it outside.

If you know that the grilling season is over, I would recommend bringing your charcoal inside for the winter though just to make sure it stays dry and ready for the next season.

What Are the Dangers of Storing Charcoal Outside?

The main danger of keeping charcoal outside is that it can simply get wet. Charcoal most often gets wet when it’s left outside when it’s raining. If you know rain is coming, don’t leave that bag out in the open.

What about snow? Grilling in winter is fun, but snow is pretty much just frozen rain, so once the temperature rises and the snow melts, you might be left with a soggy mess of charcoal. Therefore, the same rule applies here as with rain – try not to let the charcoal get snowed on.

There have been some concerns about wet charcoal spontaneously combusting, but that is not possible with the sizes of commercially available bags of charcoal. According to the study, the ambient temperature would have to exceed 250 degrees Fahrenheit and that’s not gonna happen even in the Death Valley.

You can of course play it safe and not keep the charcoal bags in the sun.

Is Charcoal Still Good if It Gets Rained On?

It has happened to the best of us. You had an amazing cookout and you skimped on the cleanup and now there’s a half-used bag of charcoal sitting out in the rain. Is it still any good? Good question.

Wet charcoal is not necessarily ruined charcoal. Unless it has turned into wet mush which sometimes happens with charcoal briquettes, there’s a good chance you will be able to use the charcoal once it dries out.

It’s best to take the wet charcoal out of the bag or container so that it can dry out quicker.

Sometimes, mold may start growing on the wet charcoal briquettes. In that case, it’s best to just discard the moldy charcoal and get a new bag.

So, as you can see, getting the charcoal wet is more of a nuisance than a total disaster.

How Do You Keep Charcoal Dry When Storing It Outside?

Charcoal usually comes packaged in paper bags. These offer little to no protection from the elements and are not really suitable for storing charcoal outside. Yes, sure, if there’s no alternative, you can leave the charcoal in its original bag a place the bag somewhere where rain won’t reach it. That could be a covered porch, roof overhang, or carport.

Here are some examples of other outdoor storage options:

Deck boxes

Many people like to use deck boxes to protect the charcoal bags from the elements. Deck boxes come in various styles and sizes. Although they are usually not completely waterproof, they offer pretty good protection. You don’t have to care about waterproofness too much if you place the deck box so that it’s protected by the roof of a porch or similar. Thanks to the size of the boxes, you can often squeeze in a few bags of charcoal, which is handy if you like to have a supply on hand.

Waterproof storage containers

Another good option is to use a waterproof charcoal storage container. These can be anything from a plastic container with a lid to a metal garbage can. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you could even invest in a purpose-built charcoal storage bin.

Pet food containers

Yes, you read that right. Pet food containers make for great outdoor charcoal storage options because they are designed to keep the contents dry. A variety of sizes and shapes is available to choose from, so you should be able to find one that fits your needs. Large airtight dog food containers are the ones you should probably be checking out.

The containers are usually made of plastic but there are also metal options as well, although they are a bit more expensive.

Fuel storage bags

Another option for storing charcoal is to use specially designed fuel storage bags. These are made of heavy-duty material and often have a waterproof lining. The bags can be used for both charcoal and wood pellets. There’s often a handle that makes it easy to move the bags, even when they are full.

Some fuel storage bags also come with a spout which makes it easier to pour the contents into a grill or smoker.


Storing charcoal is not always as simple as just leaving it in the bag and putting it away somewhere. Depending on where you live and what type of storage options are available to you, there are a few different things to consider.

If you live in an area with rainy weather, it’s perhaps best to store the charcoal indoors. Otherwise, you can often keep it outside in a deck box or waterproof storage container.

In the end, if your charcoal gets wet, it’s not the end of the world. As long as it’s not turned into mush, you can usually still let it dry out and use it.


What's the cheapest way to store charcoal?

The cheapest way to store charcoal is probably just to leave it in its original paper bag and put it away somewhere where it won’t get rained on. Or you can at least cover the original bag with a plastic trash bag.

Can you store charcoal in a metal container?

Yes, you can store charcoal in whichever type of container you want. Metal containers work just as well as plastic ones.

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John Carder

John Carder is the founder of He loves to cook outdoors, especially over a campfire. John has a lovely wife and two cats who he loves dearly. In his spare time, he likes to play soccer and paint; he's not particularly good at either, but he enjoys the process nonetheless. He also has silly long hair which often gets in his way while cooking!