How to Safely Dispose of Charcoal and Ash

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How to Safely Dispose of Charcoal and Ash

Follow these tips to help prevent fires in waste containers

Grilling season is just right around the corner and many of us will be firing up the grill for our backyard BBQs. Whether you use charcoal or propane to cook up a delicious meal, there are special disposal guidelines to consider.

When cooking with charcoal, here’s how you can safely dispose of coals and wood ash:


Close the grill lid and vents to cut off oxygen and allow the coals and ash to cool for at least 48 hours before handling. To speed up the process, pour water over them and stir carefully. Do not prepare for disposal until the coals have fully cooled.


Once the coals and ash have completely cooled, wrap in aluminum foil or place it inside a noncombustible metal container (i.e. a coffee can). Wrapping cooled coals and ash in foil can help avoid potential trash fires or explosions.


Place the foil wrapped coals and ash in your outdoor trash container.

*Dispose of the charcoal packaging, which is usually a paper bag lined with plastic, in the trash container as well.


When cooking with propane, remember to never dispose of propane tanks in any waste container. Although made of metal, pressurized tanks are not accepted in the recycling container and require special disposal.


Most retailers that sell propane tanks allow you to exchange an empty tank for a full tank of equivalent size.


Empty or damaged propane tanks must be disposed of at a hazardous waste facility. LA County residents can drop-off propane tanks at a S.A.F.E. Collection Center (visit for the nearest location).

Whether you are lighting a grill for the first time or are a seasoned BBQ pitmaster, remember to always follow proper waste disposal practices. To learn more about what is and is not acceptable in your waste containers, visit

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