Don’t want to throw away your favorite gas grill? Read this article to know how to turn a gas grill into a charcoal grill in a few easy steps.
If your old gas grill is not functioning anymore but is still in good condition, converting it into a charcoal grill is a great idea.
Every product is independently reviewed and selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
In this article, I will discuss how to convert a gas grill into a functional charcoal grill. If you are puzzled how practical it would be or which one is better between a gas grill and a charcoal grill, scroll to the end.
5 Simple Steps on How to Turn a Gas Grill Into a Charcoal Grill
Along with your old gas grill get these things ready to convert it into a charcoal grill.
- A metal sheet/grill grate
- Pliers (If needed)
- Drill for making holes for vents
Step 1-Disassemble The Gas Parts: Take apart the gas parts of the old grill because they will not be used in charcoal grilling. You will only want to keep the grill grates if they are yet usable.
Remove the gas cylinder from the grill and disconnect the hose. Remove the grill racks, unscrewing and remove the burners, venturi tubes, and pipes.
Step 2-Create Holes for Vents: You won’t be able to cook with a charcoal grill without the vents. Create two holes in the grill lid and two in the bottom of the grill.
The lid vents will work as the exhaust vents, and the bottom vents will work as the intake vents. If you want to smoke meat in your charcoal grill, you must cover the holes with aluminum foils or bolts.
Step 3-Clean The Gas Grill: As it is an old grill, you have to clean it first before converting it into a charcoal grill. Only the grill’s interior will matter in charcoal grilling to maintain a consistent temperature.
Clean the grill grates if they are still in good condition. And if they are in poor condition, bring new racks.
Note: If the outside of your grill has badly rusted and damaged and you can see holes, that grill cannot be used for charcoal grilling.
Step 4-Add a Sheet Steel: Once you remove the burner, you will need a thick metal sheet or grill grate to cover the bottom of your grill.
If you pick a metal sheet, the dimensions of the sheet have to fit the old gas grill base.
Cut it with a jigsaw so that it covers the base. Now attach it to the bottom of the grill, securing it with screws to cover the burner hole. This metal sheet will work as the chamber for putting charcoal.
Step 5-Add Charcoal: Once you cover the base, you can now add charcoal to start cooking in your converted charcoal grill. Fill the chamber with charcoal lumps or briquettes and replace the grill rack in its place.
Make sure the gas tank and gas lines are removed before starting charcoal firing. If there is remaining gas, it may create a serious explosion.
Make sure that the exterior of your gas grill does not have any severe damages or holes.
It is recommended that you create properly-sized vents. Too small vents won’t allow enough air to come in and escape. Therefore you will not be able to control the right temperature.
Need more? Watch this YouTube Video
Care And Maintenance of This Converted Charcoal Grill
Now that you have converted the gas grill into a charcoal grill, you have to take good care of this newly converted charcoal grill. Here is how you should maintain the converted charcoal grill.
- Clean The Grate
If your old grille grate is in poor condition and you’ve bought a new one for charcoal grilling, season the grill grate first.
It is not a big deal. Light a fire and preheat the grill grate for half an hour. Then rub it with a wire grill brush to get rid of any leftover.
If you have no grill brush, you can manage with a ball of aluminum foil. In both cases, wear a pair of long-handled tongs. And you should season your grill grates regularly, not just before the first use.
After every grilling session, let the grill cool down. With a grill brush, scrape any burnt food or other residues off the grates.
- Wash Regularly
With warm and soapy water, wash the outside of the lid and the exterior of the grill. The interior gets stained and greased easily. With a steel-wool soap pad, rub the stains, wipe them with wet clothes, and let them dry.
- Oil The Grate
Oiling the grates will not allow the food to stick to the grill grate. Soak a folded paper towel in olive oil or vegetable oil and scrape the grill grate with it. Don’t let the oil ooze on the coals.
Do it before and after the grilling session. Oiling before the grilling session will provide your grilled meats an extra flavor, and oiling after cooking will prevent rusting on the grate bars.
- Remove The Ashes
If you are done with grilling for this season, allow the ashes to cool and unload them in a non-flammable drum.
- Cover The Grill
You can leave the grill and grate till the beginning of the next season without washing them. When you let the grease on them, it will prevent rust build-up on the metal.
Is It More Reliable Than Buying a New Charcoal Grill
A brand new charcoal grill is always more reliable than a converted charcoal grill. But, you may have to spend a fortune on that. Depending on the durability and quality of a charcoal grill.
When you have an existing old gas grill in good shape, but the burners and related other mechanisms are heavily damaged, you might not invest in buying the individual parts.
If the repair cost seems much to you, converting this old gas grill to a charcoal grill will be a feasible idea without having any significant cost on your part.
Moreover, the expected lifespan of an average grill is 5-15 years. In the cases of lower-end grills, it is usually not more than three years.
So after this period, converting it to a charcoal grill can be the most practical recycling of your gas grill.
Grilling Process After Converting It Into A Charcoal Grill
Open The Vents: Before lighting your converted charcoal grill, open the top and bottom vents. The fire needs oxygen to keep blazing. When you add lit charcoal, you’ve to control the grill’s internal temperature by regulating the vents.
If you keep the vents wide open, your charcoal will get more oxygen and produce hotter flames.
Similarly, when you keep the vents partially closed, your charcoal will get less oxygen and produce less heat. Don’t close the vents completely; otherwise, the flames will die out.
Light The Charcoal: Stash some newspaper in the bottom of the chimney starter. Now fill it with charcoal. Lift the top grill grate and place the chimney starter inside your grill.
Light the newspaper and allow the charcoals to burn until you notice them covered with white-gray ash. If the heat is high enough, it may take 5-10 minutes. Otherwise, it’ll take 25-30 minutes in medium heat.
Pour The Lit Charcoal: Make sure you wear protective gloves and hold the chimney by its handles. Now pour the lit charcoal into the grill grate and spread the coals in the grate using long tongs.
With a paper towel (soaked in vegetable or olive oil), rub the grate. It will keep the foods from sticking to the grate.
The coals will provide high heat within 10 minutes. You’ve to control the intake and exhaust vent to maintain the temperature you want.
Create a Two-Zone: When you are grilling on high heat, you can spread more coals on one side of the grill and less charcoal on the other side.
While doing so, sear the foods on the hotter( more coals) zone, then transfer them over to a less hot zone to be cooked inside. If you cook at medium heat, it may take about 25-30 minutes.
Arranging The Coals: To ensure even heat to the whole cooking surface, You can spread the hot coals evenly on the grate.
When you provide such direct heat, the inner temperature reaches very high, up to 450ºF to 650ºF. Foods that you cook in thin pieces (that means grilled quickly) can be cooked with direct heat.
You can divide the coals in half, putting half of the coals on one side and the other half on the opposite side, leaving an area in the middle.
Put the drip pan in that place and place your food over the pan. You can also arrange the coals in a ring and place the drip pan in the middle. Place your foods over the dripping pan.
Difference Between a Gas Grill and Charcoal Grill-Which One Is Better
Gas grill and charcoal grill- both have their benefits and disadvantages. But you cannot say in a word which one is better.
For weekends and holidays, you might like the flavored and smoky grilled barbeque on your charcoal grill. But on the busy weekdays, you may not have that energy to spend time to light up and preheat your charcoal grill.
On your busy workdays, the gas grill comes as a blessing. You have to just turn it on, and you are good to go. Instantly! With the flaring charcoal chimney, the charcoal grill will take 15–20 minutes to reach the optimum temperature.
Like the gas grill, charcoal grills don’t have many controlling systems. You have to start, stop and control the temperature using the lids and the vents.
Gas grills are heavy with the gas cylinder. So you cannot move it freely. Again, if you connect the gas grill with the gas line, it limits its portability even more.
Charcoal grills are more portable than gas grills, and you can take them along for camping and outing. Charcoal produces a hotter temperature than gas. But gas grill cooking produces steam which adds moisture to the meat.
While cooking with a charcoal grill, you can try 2 zone cooking to sear the foods in a hotter zone and cook the inside in a no-charcoal zone.
As long as you turn the regulator of the gas grill off after cooking, it is completely safe. But if there is an uncontrolled explosion from cylinder or gas line leakage, it can lead to a fire hazard.
On the other hand, while cooking with a charcoal grill, you need to be extremely careful so that you won’t burn your hands or body parts while handling hot coals. Gasoline, kerosene, etc., can lead to an explosion in your charcoal grill.
While it comes to fuel, gas is cheaper than charcoal. You can connect your gas grill to the gas line for endless cooking time. Charcoal grilling will need a lot of fuel if you want to extend the cooking time.
After a grill session, it is much easier to clean up the gas grill where charcoal gets messy, and you have to take much hassle to clean it.
Last but not the least, you will get the smokey wood flavor only in charcoal grilling. Some gas grills will allow you to use charcoal in a smoker box, but they cannot give you the same smokey taste as the charcoal grill.
If you have both a gas grill and a charcoal grill, it will be great to use them according to the situation. But, if you want to pick up just one, consider the above-mentioned facts which grill will be best for you.
Therefore, if you don’t want to throw your expensive good shaped gas grill in the trash, recycling it into a charcoal grill is the most practical decision. If the cons of a charcoal grill don’t matter to you, get the things ready and convert your old gas grill into a functional charcoal grill.