HOWTO: Start A Charcoal Grill Fire

Starting Charcoal

Like riding a bicycle, starting a charcoal grill is a little tricky but easy once you figure out how.

1. Pile the charcoal briquettes in a pyramid in the middle of the grill. It should be enough charcoal to make a layer or two at the bottom of your grill but not much more.
2. Check the bag to see if the charcoal already contains lighter fluid. If it doesn’t, you will need to spray the charcoal with the lighter fluid and allow it a few minutes to soak into the briquette. If it already contains lighter fluid, you can splash a little on but it won’t be necessary. WARNING: Do not spray lighter fluid onto the charcoal briquettes because it can cause serious injury.
3. Light the charcoal and step back.
4. Now you wait, with the lid off, for the flames to begin consuming the charcoal. Eventually the flames should die down a little but the charcoal will remain hot. If the flames die down but the coals are cold then you didn’t let the lighter fluid soak in or you didn’t use enough fluid. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
5. Some of the charcoal will begin to have their edges turn ashy-white, this is good. This is when you can start spreading out the charcoal and add additional charcoal to the grill.
6. Put the lid on and allow the heat to build up.
7. Now you’re ready to grill!

Image provided by joshbousel

4 thoughts on “HOWTO: Start A Charcoal Grill Fire

  1. Pingback: » Carnival of the Vanities - Jan 25th 2006 Edition by Blueprint for Financial Prosperity

  2. Mike

    Much better is the no-fluid method. Get a “charcoal chimney”, a ventilated steel tube with a handle on the side, used to start your charcoal without benefit of petroleum products. Put about four pounds of charcoal in the tube, and wad up a single sheet of newspaper. Light the newspaper with a match and set the charcoal-filled chimney down over it.

    About 15 minutes later, your charcoal will be burning hotly, nicely ashed over, and ready to use. Dump it out in the grill and enjoy your food without that petroleum aftertaste.

    Charcoal chimneys are available widely in outdoor cooking departments of stores, and quickly pay for themselves in terms of money saved not buying charcoal lighter.

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