Charcoal Grill Smoking Too Much [11 Easy Solutions]

There can be many reasons contributing to your charcoal grill smoking too much. But the most possible causes are grease or food residue, damp coal, badly arranged charcoal, and a loose thermometer.

Besides the method of lighting charcoal, residue cleaning product, excessive food or fluid on the grill, burning quick start charcoal, grill element burning off, and lack of oxygen are also responsible for too much smoke with your charcoal grill. 

Keep reading our guide to learn how to slow smoke on a charcoal grill.

How Much Smoke Is Okay To Come From A Charcoal Grill?

Although there will be some smoke when the charcoal is first burnt, it should be easy to handle.

Within five minutes or so, the smoke should have calmed down. After 15 minutes, it should be barely smoking at all. Thin wisps of blue smoke coming out of your grill is good. 

However, if your charcoal is smoking excessively and the smoke is of a grayish hue, something else could be wrong. A charcoal smoker isn’t supposed to produce too much smoke.

Can Your Meat Be Over-Smoked When The Charcoal Grill Is Smoking Excessively?

It is entirely possible that your charcoal grill smoking too much causes your meat to over-smoke. If the meat absorbs excessive smoke it will lose its tenderness and juiciness. It’s rather simple to determine when your meat has been over-smoked. 

Take a piece of the meat you’ve worked so hard on and in case it tastes bitter, or the taste of smoke overpowers the taste of the real meat, you’ve probably over-smoked it.

So, it is pretty important to fix the issue of charcoal grill smoking too much or you will end up with inedible food. 

Charcoal Grill Smoking Too Much [11 Easy Solutions]

When your charcoal grill is smoking too much, there is something wrong with it that needs to be fixed. Here are some useful solutions on how to slow smoke on a charcoal grill.

1. Grease or Food Residue

You can have grease buildup or food residue from your last cook stuck on your grill grates.

These residues will start burning up and producing smoke when they get heat from the lit coal. That can be what is causing the extra smoke to come from your charcoal smoker.


You’ll need to clean your grill grates off the grime and grease stuck on them. Here’s how you can do that.

  • After you’ve finished cooking, shuffle the coals to burn off and remove any residual food or grease  Then, brush the grates clean with your grill brush after the grate has cooled off.
  • In addition, every month, scrub your barbecue grates with hot, soapy water. Scrub your grates lightly. Keep the grill soaked for an hour in soapy water before you rinse off. Replace the grates on the grill, close the cover, and preheat it. After it’s warmed up, scrape any remaining debris off the grates with your grill brush.

2. Dampness In Coal

When the coal has moisture seeping into it, it becomes much more difficult to light and keeps burning.

When wet charcoal tries to burn, it produces a lot more smoke than usual in an attempt to burn properly. The temperature may also be inconsistent, and the charcoal may even burn out completely.


The solution is simple and easy to follow- ONLY USE DRY CHARCOAL!

3. Badly Arranged Charcoal

If the charcoal is producing a lot of smoke while you’re cooking, make sure your food juices aren’t spilling onto the charcoal.

If you don’t use a drip pan or haven’t set up an indirect heat zone, this will happen more frequently.


Simply move the charcoal to one side of the grill and install a drip pan on the other side to capture any drippings from your meal to create an indirect heat zone.

You can better control the temperature of the food you’re cooking by setting up an indirect heat zone.

By not allowing the food to drip directly onto the coals, you will limit the quantity of steam and smoke produced by the charcoal.

4. Loose Thermometer

Whether your grill is brand new or has been used before, smoke might occasionally escape from the opening in your charcoal grill that is for the thermometer.


Ensure that the thermometer is tightly bound.

5. Method Of Lighting Charcoal

There are several ways to light the charcoal, each producing different amounts of smoke. Some generate smoke on their own, while others completely alter the way the charcoal burns.

If you use lighter fluid to fire your charcoal, for example, the smoke will be dirtier and more unpleasant which isn’t recommended.


Use a charcoal chimney starter to light up your charcoal. A “chimney” starter is just a metal tube that holds charcoal in place while you light them from the bottom. The heat rises via the chimney, sucking in even more air from below.

As the coals fire, they effectively self-fan fire as if they were constantly blown on. You can expect the charcoal to ablaze and hot in a very short period.

As an alternative, you can also try an electric charcoal starter. They are even easier to use. 

6. Residue Cleaning Product

Another cause of the smoke is residual cleaning products on the grill. This smoke will really be more dangerous than regular smoke.


Make sure you also wipe away the cleaning product after cleaning the grill. Wipe the grill grates with a water-soaked cloth.

7. Excessive Food On The Grill

By cramming too many objects onto your grill grates at once, you’re overcrowding it and causing the grill to overheat, resulting in smoke.

It will also not be possible to set up an indirect heat zone for all the food, so fluids will drip onto the charcoal.


Don’t put too much on your grill at once. Be patient. 

8. High Amount Of Fluids On The Grill

As we’ve mentioned, fluids dripping onto the charcoal cause flare-ups and smoke. This is not good for the meat or your health as this may cause partially burnt meat.


Ensure that you’ve squeezed out excess fluids before placing food on the grill. 

9. Burning Quick Start Coal

Quick-start charcoal, such as briquettes, can be untidy and burn twice as fast as other coals. They also produce a huge amount of smoke. 


Using lump charcoal minimizes the smoke coming from the grill. Because only logs, chips, flakes, and other small pieces of coal are carbonized to form lump coal, it has been dubbed “more natural.”

We recommend you try Fogo All Natural Premium Hardwood Lump Charcoal.

10. Grill Element Burning Off

When it comes to grilling, the grill element is an important component that must function properly. This is because when the grill element burns off, the grill is very likely to smoke. 


Inspect the grill element to ensure it is still functional. If it appears to be overly chipped, it could be the source of the smoke. If this is the case, you should contact the grill manufacturer and request a replacement grill element.

11. Lack Of Oxygen

Lack of oxygen can cause an abnormal amount of smoke to come out of your grill. You should not close the lid too soon after lighting the charcoal. This will starve the flame of oxygen and draw out more smoke.


Ensure proper ventilation to the lit charcoal so that they get enough oxygen for combustion.


Can you use too much lighter fluid on charcoal?

Using more than 3 tablespoons of lighter fluid per pound of charcoal is too much. Flare-ups can occur if you use too much fuel. It is also harmful to your health as you would be ingesting the hydrocarbons with your food. 

Should charcoal be on fire when grilling?

No. You shouldn’t expect to see flames when grilling on charcoal. After lighting the charcoal, wait about 15-20 minutes. This way the charcoal will be burning hot but you won’t see fire.

How to get the charcoal grill hotter?

You may get more air and consequently a hotter fire by opening the vents wide. Use high-quality charcoal, make sure they are dry and your grill is clean. 

Why is my new grill smoking?

New grills smoke more because their coating burns off when you smoke them for the first time. It is a normal thing to happen. Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with your grill.

How long will charcoal burn on a grill?

Most lump charcoal products will burn for 2-3 hours in an open sort of BBQ application, whereas briquettes will burn for 4-5 hours. The brand of charcoal you use and its quality is an obvious factors as well.


Too much smoke doesn’t only ruin the taste of your food but is also worse for your health. If your charcoal grill is smoking too much, don’t take it lightly. Follow our instructions and fix the issue ASAP.

We love to answer questions from our readers and help them out. You can ask us any questions you have in the comment section.

About William

William is the founder of He has real life practical skills in fixing smoker & heating appliance issues. He loves to share his knowledge & helps others in fixing their appliances & saving their money. William firmly believes that anyone can repair his or her unit with the correct guidance & knowledge. See more at about us.

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