Can you use Charcoal Indoors? You need to be careful, here’s why

                by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  July 5, 2021

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Charcoal is a lightweight but dark carbon buildup prepared by expelling water and other evaporation constituents from various animals and mostly plant materials, like wood.

It contains an amorphous or non-crystalline form of carbon when wood, bones, or any other organic material is heated in the absence of air and water.

That’s a nice thing to know about how charcoal is formed, but can you actually use charcoal indoors?

charcoal for indoors

You can safely use charcoal indoors, but you have to have a safe way of containing both the heat and the smoke you get from burning the charcoal. You can use it for heating and of course for cooking food indoors.

But I strongly advise to only use it in a way where you can remove the smoke directly through pipes that go outside. Just opening a window or two won’t be safe as you can read here below.

Let’s talk about burning charcoal indoors and I also have found a few other uses for charcoal to be used indoors as well.

Why should Charcoal be carefully used indoors?

Charcoal in almost all of its forms, when set on fire, produces deadly levels of toxins and carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a very toxic gas formed due to incomplete combustion of carbon in the air.

When using charcoal indoors, this gas accumulates in the air due to poor ventilation and circulation.

Even if the windows or doors are left open, they do not provide sufficient protection from the toxic gas produced.

This gas can spread quickly in the air and is also not easy to remove via exhaust fans or any such thing.

Since it’s odorless, colorless, and non-irritating, it can go unnoticed even when it is spread around in a closed space.

This gas is lighter than pure air and can replace oxygen easily, so when consumed in through breathing, it is easily absorbed by the lungs and the person affected may not even show any quick symptoms.

What is Charcoal Burning?

Charcoal is generally created by using moderate pyrolysis, which is the warming of wood or other natural materials without oxygen.

This procedure is called charcoal burning and the charcoal obtained as an end product mainly consists of carbon.

Types of Charcoal

the common uses of Charcoal

Charcoal has been a fuel of choice for hundreds of years for various purposes ranging from its use in medicine, art, and dyes.

Some of its major uses till date are:

How is Charcoal used as a Fuel Indoors?

Charcoal is a strong fuel utilized for heating and cooking that is made through the procedure of carbonization, which is where complex carbon substances i.e. wood or different biomass are separated through a moderate heating process into carbon and other volatile chemicals.

This form of fuel is better than wood because when a similar amount of charcoal and wood are burnt, charcoal creates double the heat than wood would have.

Charcoal delivers substantially less smoke than wood. It is a minimum fuel that is more advantageous to deal with than wood.

So in a way, it’s better to use charcoal indoors as it is wood itself.

Why should we use Charcoal?

The main advantage of burning charcoal is that it requires little or no air, less water, and certain other components, which allows it to burn at a high temperature and still give off little smoke.

As compared to Charcoal, burning wood creates dense smoke in large quantities which creates air pollutants and soot which is a collection of unburnt and impure carbon particles that cause various types of cancer and lung diseases.

the Indoor use of Charcoal

Charcoal has only a limited number of uses as an indoor item but they are very significant.

One major indoor use is the heat generation to be able to cook food. Its other use is in a heater where it can be burnt to keep the room nice and warm.

Favorite Asian Recipes x
Favorite Asian Recipes

It can be used in fireplaces or to produce heat anywhere else, even at a campsite.

Although it provides many advantages indoors, it has a lot of disadvantages as well so it should be used in careful consideration.

How can Charcoal be utilized for indoor cooking?

Charcoal grilling probably will not offer a similar degree of comfort and accommodation as gas, yet it boasts one advantage that stands out above all others which is its smoky barbeque flavor.

The dry, white-hot warmth of charcoal burns meat rapidly, making a crispy and smoky flavor.

Charcoal grilling requires additional time and consideration than gas, from building and lighting the briquettes to making sure the coals get hot to dealing with the actual flame.

Since you can’t dial down the warmth of white-hot coals, it’s a decent technique to leave void spaces on the lower part of the grill underneath the cooking surface.

These colder spaces give you better control, letting you burn your food on high heat at first, before moving it to cooler parts of the grill to finish the cooking.

Which One Is Better, Charcoal or Gas?


Charcoal grills are additionally more affordable than gas grills. However, the expense of charcoal will increase throughout the years.

Charcoal grills are also more compact than gas grills. You can very easily put a sack of charcoal along with your grill in your car and take it with you to a party or the beach.

Also check out these indoor yakitori grills as well if you don’t mind electric cooking

Tips and Techniques For Indoor Charcoal Grilling

What are some of the most beneficial uses of Charcoal?

Apart from all the health hazards and disadvantages of using charcoal, there are still some tips and tricks that can help use charcoal indoors in a good way.

Below are a few very useful and inspiring ways that can be utilized to take advantage of charcoal.

Boost your compost

Charcoal comprises of wood, which is for the most part carbon which is a fundamental component for making great fertilizer and compost.

Toss a couple of bits of the regular style coal into your container of food scraps and yard clippings to boost your compost.

Freshen your air

In spaces that need air circulation as in a closed storeroom or cellar, put out a few pieces of additive-free charcoal in a lidded plastic container and penetrate it with a couple of holes.

The dark pieces of charcoal will assimilate nasty scents and dampness, leaving the area smelling clean and the air fresh.

Clean your ornaments

Sprinkle a touch of charcoal at any place you store your tools and nails in. Because of its ability to dampness retention, charcoal will help keep your tools rust free.

You can also do this for your gardening tools. Each time you finish a sack of charcoal, pour the extra bits from the bottom of the pack into the pot where you stow your spades and weeding devices.

Because of charcoal, they’ll remain shinier and keener.

Create art

Charcoal sticks have filled in as tools for artists for quite a long time, and these drawing instruments are nothing more than trimmed down charcoal briquettes.

Indeed, even a standard charcoal piece can make a great drawing tool should you be feeling creative.

Grab a piece when you’re feeling without inspiration next time you are staring at your blank canvas, or even use it to write a great welcoming message for visitors arriving at your grill party!

Some of you that land on this page might just be looking for information about charcoal for your standard grill, but I write a lot about Japanese cuisine and I have this full article on Japanese Binchotan charcoal, which is just the best when preparing to grill on high heat.

Maybe you can take a look.

I also have an article dedicated to the use of Konro grills and binchotan indoors if you want to learn more about that.

Ever had trouble finding Japanese recipes that were easy to make?

We now have "cooking Japanese with ease", our full recipe book and video course with step-by-step tutorials on your favorite recipes.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.