How Long Does Charcoal Burn in a Smoker?[Complete Guide]

Do you enjoy meals prepared using a charcoal smoker? So, to prepare your meal with Charcoal, you must learn “How long does charcoal burn in a smoker.”

Mostly, charcoal products last about 2 to 3 hours. And, if you buy briquettes, it’s 4-5 hours depending on the quality. If you’re barbecuing low and slow in an offset smoker, your time doubles

In this article, we will also discuss the burning time of Charcoal in a smoker. If you are smoking meat over Charcoal, your temperature must be steady at low heat for an extended period.

How Long Should Charcoal Burn before Cooking?

How Long Should Charcoal Burn before Cooking

We are discussing an important topic: “How long does charcoal burn in a smoker.”

Charcoal cooking is one of the essential mediums used in cooking, and it is easily one of the best cooking styles passed from generation to generation.

Charcoal cooking has been used to celebrate outdoor cooking and a sense of uniting people together. Its filling taste and its smoky pleasurable aroma, complemented by people, make for an excellent way to celebrate summer.

Charcoal is naturally made from hardwood, although there are compounds of compressed coals, hardwood char, or starch called “briquettes,” which are used as fuel for charcoal grills.

Some chefs prefer briquettes because of their several components, while some prefer natural hardwood. Cooking with gas is quick but provides less flavorful food compared to the strong taste cooking with Charcoal provides.


How Long Does Charcoal Burn in a Smoker

Charcoal is wood with a porous black solid. Charcoal is usually obtained from burning wood, peat, cellulose, or other carbonaceous substances with insufficient air.

It is an amorphous carbon in the form of porous microcrystalline graphite. When Charcoal is used as a compile to clay, it can help save energy in brick production. The usage of Charcoal is increasing day by day.

Good Charcoal for smoking lasts a long time and produces a steady, very high heat. Most people use Charcoal to give food its smoky flavor. Commonly, not all charcoals are created equal. Conversion of wood into Charcoal requires much time.

Conversion of Wood into Charcoal

Conversion of Wood into Charcoal

Charcoal is wood that has been burned without oxygen, either by being heated but sealed away from oxygen or, more commonly, by setting it on fire and then cutting it off from the air, keeping the wood from burning entirely into ash.

The average conversion ratio is that 3 kg of air-dried fuel wood is burnt to produce 1 kg of Charcoal.

Types of Charcoal

There are many different types of Charcoal used to burn smokers. Some of them are mentioned below,

1: Lump Charcoal

Lump Charcoal

Lump charcoal is often considered superior to briquettes, but since it’s difficult to package and hard to control the outcome of the lump shapes, it’s not the most sought after. Lump charcoal is also called Charnwood.

These burn quicker and at a higher temperature than briquettes, but you can control them by controlling the vents in the cooker, and they may also burn out faster. Its carbonization process is often so competent that, in the end, all you have left is carbon.

1- Your food could get burnt faster.

2- Your Charcoal will burn out pretty quickly.

2: Charcoal Briquettes

 Charcoal Briquettes

This type of Charcoal is much older than you think. Like gold, it reaches its best state after passing through fire. Like other forms of Charcoal, it usually needs to burn in low-oxygen areas for several days before it comes out just right.

This type of Charcoal is usually relatively cheap. They can be purchased in huge quantities. Unlike lump charcoal, they tend to burn pretty slowly. For this reason, they’re perfect for your slow-roasting, making your food delicious.

3: Hardwood Briquettes

Hardwood Briquettes

Hardwood Briquettes are made up of hardwood. However, customers don’t often leave it to take whatever form possible. They take proper care to ensure they come out in the same shape and consistency.

This type of Charcoal is often very hard. As such, heat passes through them much slower, and they don’t burn very quickly.

4: Coconut Shell Charcoal

Coconut Shell Charcoal

If there were any material not to be used for charcoals, it would be coconut shells. These things are often considered useless because Coconut shells don’t have much use once you get the coconut out from the middle and extract the coconut water.

However, it is an excellent material for making charcoals. Instead of the standard burning process, coconut shell is made by the process called distillation, which makes it more robust and burns longer than standard Charcoal.

5: Binchotan Coals

Binchotan Coals

Binchotan coals are natural, dense, and relaxed burning. If you like the taste of Charcoal in your food, this product is not for you. These are not only traditionally used in Japanese cooking, but also High-end restaurants use them for grilling.

There are many benefits of using Binchotan for grilling. Binchotan burns cleanly with steady high heat, and the alkalized ashes are said to neutralize protein acids and other useless acidic products during cooking.

6: Storing Charcoal

Storing Charcoal

You can also store the Charcoal, but how long can you store it? The biggest issue in storing Charcoal is water because Charcoal and water don’t have a friendly relationship. Rain can affect your stored Charcoal.

The solution to this problem is that you store it in a cool and dry place.

The containers are also suitable for lump charcoal which is considered the best fuel for cooking. A moisture-free environment is mandatory for storing all types of coals because all coals are vulnerable to moisture.


For how long does charcoal burn in a smoker, binding agents are the main source used in charcoal for heat. Most brands of Charcoal have additives which are given below.

Binding Agents

For maintaining the form of Briquettes, binding agents are needed. Two main binding agents are mentioned below.

1. Starch

2. Molasses

Below additives mentioned are inorganic fillers that delay the heat release of the burning briquette and ignition enhancers to make them “easy-lighting.”


Borax is used in a small amount to help briquettes release from the manufacturing presses. Borax makes the briquettes easier to get out of their mold at the end of the assembly. In this way, borax plays its role in additive elements of Charcoal.

Limestone Ash- Whitening Agent

Limestone ash acts as a colorant in some of the briquettes. This is because colorant is a substance that is applied to change the color of a material or substance. Limestone is sufficient to make the ashes turn white. It will make the briquettes burn longer.

Sodium Nitrate

Sodium nitrate is used to provide oxygen. Oxygen is essential for the burning process. The more the presence of oxygen, there will be more the rate of burning of coal.

How Long Does Charcoal Burn in a Grill?

How Long Does Charcoal Burn in a Grill

In any grill, most lump charcoal products will give you 2-3 hours of burn time, whereas briquettes will push out to 4-5 hours because this depends on the fuel quality.

The more binders and additives in a product, the less of the raw material in the briquette, so burn time could be lower. So, if you experience a strong chemical smell when you burn your fuel, it most likely has a higher quantity of binders.

For those who like to mix briquette and lump, assuming the mix is half-half, you should expect burn time somewhere in the middle, approximately 3.5 to 4 hours.

In a low and slow or oxygen-restricted environment, for example, bullet and offset smokers or Weber kettle, you can expect double the lasting time on average compared to the open grilling applications.

So lump charcoal should burn for 4 to 6 hours versus your briquettes, giving you a good 8-10 hours. More oxygen equals higher heat. Less oxygen means lower overall temperature and, therefore, prolonged burn time.

Although no oxygen can mean your Charcoal can fizzle out and lose heat altogether.

FAQS- How Long Does Charcoal Burn in a Smoker?

In most cases, the coals should only take as little as 15 to 30 minutes before they mostly burn out on their own. You should know it can take up to two to three days for your charcoal grill to cool down.


We have discussed “How long does charcoal burn in a smoker.” The article is about the time taken for Charcoal to burn in a smoker.

Using Charcoal to cook your favorite dishes and food has a way of making your meal taste pleasurably nice with a flavorful aroma to go with it. Charcoal cooking is as old as humanity and has been used for generations.

When cooking with Charcoal, always take precautions and prevent accidents because you are dealing with fire. Always ensure your coals burn correctly until it is ashy and of even heat.

We hope you understand that Charcoal can burn for around 4 to 5 hours in a smoker.