At the moment I am personally smoking the shit out of a box of coals I purchased 7 months ago. It feels no different than a new box, note, I'm smoking coconara brand, the kind you warm up on a burner.. I've had experiences with the ring brand, instant light, where moisture exposure took place, and encountered issues with trying to light the coals, had a hard time. But, as long as you are patient with instant light and keep the fire on it until fully lit, you should have no problems. Enjoy your smoke, that's all that matters!