Saturday, June 3, 2023


Don’t let charcoal go to waste. Use it around your RV!

It almost never fails. At the end of a camping trip, we have just a few pieces of charcoal left in the bottom of the bag. In the past, I’ve moved these leftover pieces into a non-combustible container. If I remember to pack the container along on our next trip, we’ll use it to BBQ. But that’s a big “if”! I never seem to remember to grab the leftover charcoal container. So, I found these tips and tricks for reusing charcoal briquettes and they all work well in and around my RV. I hope you like (and use) them, too!

Note: We use natural charcoal because it works for us. 

Charcoal saver

When my husband grills, he always uses more charcoal than he needs. He explained to me that it makes the fire hotter and that’s what he needs to sear juices into meats. As soon as the food is removed from the fire, my husband pops the lid back on the grill and immediately closes the air vents. This quickly smothers the fire and saves charcoal for future use.

To make these pieces reusable, we use a Kick Ash Basket. It fits right inside our grill and helps us save a lot of charcoal. We let hot coals cool down overnight or until completely cold. Then we shake the basket to remove any burned ash. Afterwards, only black, or unburned pieces remain. These coals can be used again because they are still combustible. If we’re planning to grill again, we put the basket of coals back into the grill. If it’s time to hit the road, I’ll use the leftover coals in one or more of the following tips.

  • Remove humidity. Charcoal can absorb excess moisture in the air. I place a few pieces inside an upcycled can (like the ones that contain canned tuna). Then I put the can into the areas in the RV that seem to have the highest humidity: under the kitchen sink, inside the bathroom, in our laundry closet. So far, the charcoal has worked well!
  • Alleviate odors. Along with dehumidifying specific areas in our RV, charcoal is also good at absorbing unpleasant odors. I put a piece or two of charcoal inside a cloth bag. Then the bag goes into the following potentially stinky RV places: the refrigerator, RV pantry where we keep onions, inside our hiking boots.
  • Speed composting. We save food scraps (except meat) and put them into a compost container. If we have leftover charcoal, I crush it into small pieces and add it to the compost. The charcoal absorbs excess moisture from the food scraps. It also adds carbon to the compost, which can help speed up the composting process.
  • Plant fertilizer. Crushed charcoal can also be used as a plant fertilizer. My ferns and orchids especially seem to do better when I add a bit of it to their soil. Charcoal absorbs any stagnant water and increases the oxygen in the soil. A win-win!
  • Messy fun and games. Sometimes I’ll use a piece of charcoal to draw a tic tac toe grid on a paved area in the campground. We then use sticks and rocks as markers to play the game.

Do you upcycle leftover charcoal? Share your tips with us in the comments below.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


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1 month ago

These are good suggestions. Thanks!

Neal Davis
1 month ago

We grill with propane, but may try charcoal to reduce humidity and improve odors in our RV. Thank you, Gail!

2 months ago

We don’t use a lot of charcoal but I never thought of some of these uses. Thanks

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