We are going to go over a few tips and tricks on how to light a charcoal grill. Some are faster than others as well as easier all depending on the method. Learning how to properly light a charcoal grill is not the tough of a process.
We will go over how to light charcoal with and without lighter fluid. Even though people are going away from the use of lighter fluid. A lot of us learned how to light charcoal with lighter fluid from our dads and grandpas. As other ways have been developed we have moved away from it to other methods.
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The great thing about charcoal grills is no matter what you are cooking from steaks to vegetables. They can give you that classic grilled flavor a lot of us grew up with and still crave. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a charcoal grill to get great tasting food.
Take a look at my review of the Weber Original kettle grill. For a great Grill that is affordable and very reliable.
Setting Up Your Charcoal Grill
What you are planning on cooking is a major factor in the position of your charcoal and the best method for lighting. How to set up your charcoal will depend on if you are cooking with direct or indirect heat
WARNING!!! Just a reminder when dealing with anything that produces heat and or flames take proper precautions and wear the proper clothing.
You also need to remember to have your vents wide open when starting up your charcoal. Once the bed of charcoal is going the way you need it you can adjust them back down to where you need them for cooking.
How To Use Charcoal Chimney
A Charcoal Chimney Starter is my preferred way to get my charcoal grill going. Over time it is fairly cheap cost wise. Is reliable and fast easy to do and chemical free.
A charcoal chimney is a simple concept a metal tube that you dump your charcoal into. It holds your charcoal in place while you ignite them from the bottom. The heat rises up the chimney, which sucks more air in from the bottom. As the coals light, and the air circulates they are basically self circulating as if being blown on all the time, it is very effective and fun to watch how something so simple can be so effective.
Start off you just dump your charcoal into the charcoal Chimney starter.
Then you can stuff a few pieces of newspaper or paper towels in the bottom.
make sure you have it set on a fire safe area and lit the paper towels
After 20-30 mins the coals should be ready you can tell by when the top charcoal has started turning white.
Dump your charcoal, place the cooking grate back in place. and give grill time to get up to temp
This method is one of the cheapest over time I have used and most consistent. It works every time as long as you light the bottom correctly. No chemicals or electricity is needed as well, can be used anywhere as well.
How To Light Up Charcoal With Lighter Fluid
Starting a Charcoal Grill with lighter fluid is the most common way. It has been around for years. It was how my dad started his charcoal grill. Heck, it was how my Grandpa started his charcoal grill. It was the way I did for years.
My biggest complaint with it was if you used too much your food always tasted like lighter fluid. adding too much is easy to do when first starting out until you get some practice. Too much and food gets an after taste from the lighter fluid. Not enough and the charcoal takes forever to get going.
The other complaint, in this day and age a lot of us are trying to watch what foods we eat and what chemicals are added. Lighter fluid is adding just that chemicals. Not saying not to use lighter fluid. Just no recommending it anymore.
You will want to stack the charcoal in a pyramid shape. The bottom layer being the largest getting smaller as you go up the layers
Carefully pour lighter fluid evenly over coals using the manufacturer’s directions. Try to get as an even of a coat as possible just make sure to not overdo it
Need to allow the coals to absorb the lighter fluid for 30-60 seconds before lighting. Follow manufacturers warnings. I normally wait 60 secs though
Using a long nosed lighter like these or long matches and light the charcoal in 3 or 4 different spots. Don’t add lighter fluid once you have started charcoal on fire
Once the coals have turned white they are ready to be used. Spread them into the cooking zone you will be using evenly, then replace the cooking grate and let the grill get up to temp.
Using Lighter fluid to light charcoal has been around for a long time, and I am sure it will be around for a lot longer. It is just not the only or best option, but it is an option. It does have a good success rate once you figure out how much to use it works every time as well.
How To Get Charcoal To Light With A Looft Lighter
Electric firestarters are another growing option for starting your charcoal grill. There are all kinds of electric firestarters you can pick up and use for your grill. These are basically super hair dryers that ignite and circulate the air around the charcoal so they ignite and the fire spreads faster.
Arrange your coals just like you would if you were setting them up for lighter fluid. Place them into a pyramid shape. The base will be the largest getting smaller each level as you build it
Once you are ready Plug your electric firestarter in, then place the nose directly in your coals. It will begin heating immediately. You will want the tip to actually be touching the charcoal.
Once the charcoal starts to sparking(you will see sparks start flying around off charcoal), pull the electric lighter back a few inches away from the charcoal. Depending on which model you have. Some electric charcoal starts will start blowing more air the hotter it gets. While some will just have a switch to turn up the airflow.
Keeping the firestarter a few inches away from the charcoal, keep moving it around, and heat the coals until the fire starts. once the charcoal is going well. Remove the starter.
Once the coals have got to temp and have started turning white. Replace the cooking grate and close the lid and let the charcoal grill get up to temp.
These are all great ways to light your charcoal. There are other methods that work too. A lot depends on how specific the cook is going to be. As long as you are safe there is no wrong method. A lot just depends on what you like.
As for I. I prefer the charcoal chimney out of the 3. It has low cost, easy to use, and is very reliable and consistent. There are more pluses to a chimney but that is for another time.
Do you have a preferred method to Light your charcoal grill? If so I would love to hear about it.
Any questions or comments? Would love to hear tham