Inexperienced charcoal grillers will frequently lay up the charcoal, speay the lighter fluid, and start the fire right away. Aside from lighter fluid, there are various ways to start a charcoal grill. Learn about the various methods and how to utilize them correctly.

A few points to consider before you begin

There are a few things to bear in mind if you’re dealing with a charcoal barbecue for the first time. They aren’t as simple to use as gas or electric grills, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less effective (or fun).

Clean your grill before using it, even if it’s brand new and never been used before.

When cooking, you don’t want any sludge or slime on your barbecue grates. “Grate dirt” can ruin the flavor of your meal by imparting a burnt, aged flavor, and it can even cause fires to flare up. As a result, before using your grill, ensure sure it is well cleaned. Use a grill brush to remove grease and caked-on food before and after each cook. We also recommend deep cleaning your grill once a season (at the very least) to keep it in pristine condition. Learn how to clean a charcoal barbecue in a safe and effective manner.

Understand how to prepare a grill for lighting.

Before you begin adding—or even purchasing—charcoal, you should thoroughly clean your grill for the most successful barbecue. You can skip this step if you’re working with a brand-new grill. However, if you’re using a secondhand or previously used charcoal grill, it must be somewhat clean before you relight it. Get rid of all the dirt and debris before you start working.

Select the best charcoal

Charcoal is classified into two types: lump and briquettes.

  • Lump charcoal is made from basic hardwoods such as cherry, mesquite, maple, and oak. Because it is not compressed, it burns hotter, faster, and produces less ash. Lump charcoal is ideal for low- and slow-smoking barbecue.
  • Briquettes are formed of sawdust and binding agents to provide a homogeneous shape that is easier to layer and regulate. They burn hotter, so they’re a fantastic choice for direct heat and foods with shorter cooking times, such as fish and burgers.

Pro tip: The type of charcoal recommended for your grill will most likely be specified in the manual.

There are several varieties of charcoal to choose from. We like Royal Oak Lump Charcoal above other brands. It has a mildly smokey aroma and burns hot and clean. Another excellent option is Rockwood All-Natural Hardwood Lump Charcoal, which is made from a combination of oak, hickory, maple, and pecan wood. Don’t scrimp on this step—a poor quality charcoal brand will be more difficult to light, resulting in more frustration and fewer tasty burgers.

Discover how to organize the charcoal.

You can’t just put your charcoal onto your grill and hope for the best, though it would be much easier. You must organize your charcoal pieces for the finest effects. Again, depending on your preferred method—if you utilize a chimney, you’ll arrange differently than if you use lighter fluid.

Before Lighting a Charcoal Grill

The grill should be clean of ash from previous BBQs before igniting the charcoal. Remove the cover as well as the grate on which the food is cooked. The amount of briquettes used should be sufficient to cover the grill in a single layer.

Lighting a Charcoal Grill with Lighter Fluid

  1. Make a pile of charcoal briquettes in the middle of the grill.
  2. Thoroughly soak the briquettes with lighter fluid but don’t over do it. Let the briquettes soak for at least five minutes. This helps to insure that the taste of the fluid isn’t transferred to the food and that the briquettes will ignite without adding more fluid. Carefully light the briquettes using long stick matches or a fireplace lighter.
  3. Allow the briquettes to turn white.
  4. Carefully spread out the charcoal evenly across the grate for direct cooking. For indirect cooking, place two piles on either side with a space in the middle.

Lighting a Charcoal Grill with a Chimney Charcoal Starter

The chimney starter is a metal cylinder with vent holes.

  1. Tightly stuff a good paper ignition source like newspaper into the bottom of the chimney cylinder.
  2. Add the charcoal to the top of the cylinder.
  3. Carefully light the paper using long stick matches or a fireplace lighter.
  4. Allow the briquettes to turn white, usually about 20 minutes.
  5. Carefully spread out the charcoal evenly across the grate for direct cooking. For indirect cooking, place two piles on either side with a space in the middle.

Lighting a Charcoal Grill with an Electric Starter

The electric charcoal starter is a device that has a handle with a long circular rod that heats the coals.

  1. Make a flat pile of charcoal briquettes using two-thirds of the briquettes in the middle of the grill.
  2. Place the electric starter on top of the briquettes making sure the handle is not touching the briquettes.
  3. Pile the remainder of the briquettes on top of the electric starter so that most of the rod is hidden by the charcoal
  4. Carefully unplug and remove the electric starter when the briquettes around the starter turn white.
  5. Allow the charcoal to burn a few minutes after the starter is removed
  6. Carefully spread out the charcoal evenly across the grate for direct cooking. For indirect cooking, place two piles on either side with a space in the middle.

While using lighter fluid is the quickest way to start a charcoal grill, there is a risk that the food will take on a bad flavor. The chimney, too, takes some getting used to and can be aggravating if the paper continues to fall out. The only disadvantage of using an electric starter is the time it takes to get the charcoal burning.

Mistakes people make when lighting a charcoal grill

Charcoal made from hardwood? Briquettes may be simpler to light and burn longer than hardwood, but they contain a slew of fillers, binders, and chemicals. However, real hardwood charcoal—charcoal manufactured entirely of wood and burned until it’s almost entirely pure carbon—burns hotter and produces a truly smoky flavor. There are no chemicals present.

Only a squirt of lighter fluid

More often than not, lighter fluid will lend an unpleasant, chemical flavor to whatever you throw on the grate. It will completely defeat the purpose of using hardwood. You can fire your charcoal with nothing more than a newspaper, a match, and one very important item.

Take the following items into consideration before firing up the grill

  • How much time will you spend grilling?
  • How hot should your grill be?
  • How much time does it have to burn?

You might require two chimneys’ worth of charcoal, which means two chimney starters. Also, make sure to clear out the grill! The ash and leftovers of last week’s grilling operations may obstruct the airflow required by charcoal to thrive.

Dumping the coals wherever

Grab an oven mitt or a dry kitchen towel before pouring the charcoal into your grill—the handle can get quite hot. When you pour, put the coals to one side if you’re constructing a two-zone fire. When they’re scorching hot, it’s difficult to move them.