Secrets on the Grill

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ending the Fire Safely and Efficiently

Imagine you’ve done all your cooking and grilling and now’s the time to wrap it up. Then you discover you have so much more fuel still in the grill. What do you do to put out the fire? Douse water on the still burning embers? No. no. no. The best cost-effective way is to save the burning coals. Here’s what you can do:

  1. With a pair of tongs, get the bigger chunks that you can easily pick up. Be careful here. You don’t want to drop the hot coals on your feet or on anything that may burn.
  2. Put the big chunks inside an open tin can. A tin can with a lid for powdered infant milk is good.
  3. Close the tin can with its lid CAREFULLY. You could use the pair of tongs for this.

  4. Keep the can loosely covered. Even with some smoke leaking out of the loose opening, the fire will die out.

Do NOT push down on the lid in an attempt to seal it to quickly extinguish the fire. Pushing down on the lid will put out the fire immediately but it could also result in a serious accident. If the lid is too tight, the glowing embers inside will quickly heat up the air inside the can. The air inside expands. But since the air is trapped, pressure builds up inside. When the pressure is strong enough, it may violently pop out the lid from the can.

I remember one time when I did the above. Done cooking, we were rushing for dinner. And so I was in a hurry to put out the remaining burning coals. I put on the lid loosely. But seeing the smoke leaking out, I reckoned pushing the lid down tighter will finish it. I did and said to myself, “that ought to do it”. Still standing over the can, I figured the embers were out when suddenly the tin can lid shot up like a rocket, almost grazing my face! The lid rose to about 7 feet in the air. And so that taught me a rather memorable lesson. Whew!