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Hot Coals Receptacles

Updated by: Martha "Marty" Willbee, Outdoor Recreation Planner

July 31, 2012 (updated 7/23/2013)


Disposing of hot coals from barbecue grills and hibachis can be a major fire hazard in Forest Service recreation sites. In addition to the obvious fire hazard, unburned charcoal remnants increase maintenance and degrade the aesthetic character of a clean site.


Without providing a proper place to dispose of hot coals, they are often dispensed in and around recreation facilities (under picnic tables, next to trash cans, in dumpsters, near water edges, etc.).  Disposing of hot coals can result in damage to both the site and facilities. 


Possible Solutions

A possible solution to this problem is to use hot coal and ash disposal receptacles.  Selecting hot barbeque coal and ash disposal receptacles in Forest Service campgrounds require the following key features:

  • Receptacle must be made of nonflammable material and stay cool enough on the outside to allow a person to touch the exterior without causing heat discomfort. 
  • If the receptacle is equipped with an iron grill, the grill must be recessed into the receptacle a minimum of 3 inches to help diminish the chances of touching the hot iron grill.
  • The receptacle must allow the hot coals and ash to drop inside the receptacle and not remain on the surface.
  • Receptacles manufactured with steel materials must have a removable steel liner inside to dispose of the ash and to keep the outside receptacle skin cool.
  • The receptacle must have provisions to drain in case of rain and have an opening for easy cleaning.

Following is a list of receptacles to remedy this situation.  The solutions from different manufacturers are different in their approach but solve the same problem.  The prices range from approximately $300-900, and materials range from precast concrete to galvanized steel. This list is not exhaustive and other receptacles may be available from other manufacturers. The products discussed here meet the minimum requirements: they have an open grate design that allows hot coals to fall through a grate, collect in a container, safely finish burning, and then easily disposed of and they are fully self-contained units that don’t require any additional parts such as collection bins.


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