How To Store Charcoal For Cooking Emergencies

How To Store Charcoal For Cooking Emergencies

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

You probably know by now I do everything colored coded. Storing charcoal is no different. My favorite way to store charcoal or briquettes is in five gallon buckets with Gamma Lids. My color choice for the Kingsford briquettes is blue buckets with blue Gamma Lids. I store my Ozark Hardwood lump charcoal in red buckets and red Gamma Lids. I like to keep them in different colored buckets for a reason. I store and use the Kingsford briquettes without the added “starter fluid” for my Dutch oven cooking. This way I can count the number of  briquettes I need for the top and the bottom of the Dutch ovens. I know instantly which buckets have my Ozark Lump or my briquettes.

You can see above my red buckets with Ozark Oak Lump charcoal and the blue buckets ready to fill with Kingford Original Briquettes. The briquettes and the lump charcoal will last indefinitely. They must be kept air tight and they must not be left out to get damp or wet since they more than likely will not burn properly afterward, even if they are dried out. I recommend buying the kind that is plain without the lighter fluid on them. The briquettes with the lighter fluid added have a shorter shelf life of one to two years.

Charcoal-My Favorite Way To Store It by
I did a YouTube to show you how I put the Gamma Lids on buckets with help of my husband. I rarely read instructions….I can usually figure how to do things without them. I use these Gamma Lids for my wheat, sugar, beans, pasta, etc. Years ago I had this deal called a “lid lifter”…it was so hard to open my five gallon buckets. These are so much easier to open.

Read More of My Articles  Emergency Survival Water Purifier

Charcoal-My Favorite Way To Store It by
Here is the Gamma Lid “ring” that you use a rubber mallet to carefully pound the ring onto the bucket. The “lid” then twists onto the ring. This makes an airtight seal to protect your charcoal. I quote from the “Emergency Essentials website I read that we need approximately fifteen-20 pound bags of charcoal in order to cook one hot meal a day for one year” .

Charcoal-My Favorite Way To Store It by

This blue bucket above has the Kingsford’s briquettes inside. The five gallon bucket will hold a 20 pound Kingsford’s charcoal briquettes bag.

Charcoal-My Favorite Way To Store It by

This is a view of my Ozark Oak Lump Charcoal. I really want to show you the difference between the two products. This is what I have learned about the two different charcoals.

What is briquette charcoal?

It’s charcoal that has been pressed into similar sizes with round uniform shapes

What is lump charcoal?

It’s generally charred wood fuel that is not formed into uniform shapes. It’s natural tree limbs that are charred in a kiln

Who has more ash: lump or briquettes?

Briquettes have more ash because they are pressed into forms and the lump charcoal is naturally charred tree limbs via a kiln

Which product has more consistent heat?

Briquettes because they are uniform in size…therefore heat more evenly

How does the price compare between the two?

This can vary widely because some lump charcoal can be made out of  pecan, oak, pine or whatever wood is natural for the area where  it is being sold. Some woods are more expensive depending on the location you purchase them. They are typically more expensive than briquettes. Note that the charcoal made from soft wood tends to burn faster and the harder woods tend to burn slower, so plan ahead based on what you will be cooking and the desired results.

Read More of My Articles  10 Pioneer Skills Every 12 Year Old Should Know

Charcoal-My Favorite Way To Store It by

I used crumpled newspaper underneath the lump charcoal and the briquettes to help get them started. These are both great fuels to store because they last forever if you store them correctly.  Note that you shouldn’t use the ashes from either the lump charcoal or the briquettes in your garden to help compost since they may have some chemicals that are undesirable for food production and they don’t aid in the breakdown of other organic matter.

Dutch Oven Stand by Linda


  1. We plan on using charcoal for most of our SHTF cooking needs. To make the charcoal go further we obtained a Volcano 3 Collapsible Cook Stove. I also experimented with used charcoal. A lot of times you meal is done and the charcoal is only partially burned. Instead of letting it burn the rest of the way down I put the still burning charcoal in a bucket of water to extinquish it. I then put the charcoal in the sun to dry out. I did that for 2 days to make sure it dried out. You can then use the remaining portion to cook again. A charcoal chimney works best for lighting charcoal without resorting to lighter fluid and other starting fluids. We put our charcoal in a industrial size 55 gallon plastic bag inside a 55 gallon drum and used caulking around the top before putting the lid back on.

    • Hi Dan, I am glad to hear you can dry out the unused charcoal. I will start doing what you recommend. I have the Volcano stove as well. Its a great item because you can use charcoal, wood and propane. I love the idea of the 55 gallon containers. I buy the samller containers so I can haul them myself. Great tip! Linda

  2. A simple yet great idea and more importantly an easier way to store, carry and protect this precious and useful commodity.

    I prefer to repackage things from the store and if it’s paper packaging, you can toss it into the recycling bin, or if you have the space and care to do a little extra work it can be a resource. Cutting, tearing or shredding it allows one to turn it into wood pulp, to make fire starters, paper logs or tinder. Then you can save the briquettes and charcoal fro cooking and forging metal.

  3. We have a barbeque at the garden and we buy charcoals which I don’t know how to store so they just stay outside next to the grill and sometimes the rain ruins them. Thanks a lot for the idea! I will buy such bucket for sure! Regards!

  4. Does anyone know if there is a source for gamma lids and pails that are smaller than 5 gallon buckets.

Share Your Thoughts