Grilling using charcoal is not only fun but also produces food that tastes great. Whether you are just grilling at your backyard, tailgating or out camping, it is important to learn how to light a charcoal grill so that the event remains safe. Here are some steps that will help you generate some hot charcoal for evenly cooked food.

How to Light Charcoal with Lighter Fluid

Steps to Light Charcoal with Lighter Fluid

First off, make sure that the coal you are using is not the self-lighting type or that it has an additive that allows it to start burning without the need for lighter fluid. Additives can give the food bad taste. The charcoal you use should produce no smoke and should be clean. Read the instructions that come with the grill and make sure that you have understood them. 

  • Clean the grill thoroughly to remove any grease and ash.

  • Determine the amount of coal you will use. 

  • Open the grill’s vents at the bottom.

  • Pour the charcoal on the grill and arrange them in a pyramid shape.

  • Pour lighter fluid into your charcoal until the coal has become slightly shiny.

  • Let the fluid sit for about half an hour then take a long match then light the charcoal from the bottom.

  • Leave the coal to burn until their surface turns white. When using lighter fluid, you should ensure that you give it time to burn off completely before starting the grilling. 

  • Evenly spread the coal throughout the grate using an instrument that has long handles.

  • Close lid then begin cooking in five minutes. 

The following video provides clear instructions:

The Amount of Charcoal Depends on What You Are Grilling

  • If it is steaks and burgers, a layer of charcoal will do. If it is for chickens and roasts, then two layers will do.

  • If you are grilling thinner meat, the charcoal should be evenly spread at the grill’s bottom.

  • If you are grilling thicker meat, the charcoal should be higher on one side. Start cooking the meat at the higher side – this is the one that has more charcoal. Once the outside of the meat is cooked as you like it, start cooking the inside using the part that has less charcoal.

Tips and Precautions

  • You should clean the grill before using it so that bad smoke is removed and will thus not leave any bad taste to the food.

  • Before you light the grill, make sure that you have taken inventory. Know how much meat will be grilled, how hot the grill should be and how long the grill should burn. Also, remember to clean the grill before using it because it still has remnants of the last food you grilled it with. These remnants will affect the meat’s taste and also block airflow, which is needed by charcoal to burn well.

  •  The proper way to use lighter fluid is by ensuring that all charcoal is not scattered all over the grill, but instead it should be in a neat pile. Generously pour the fluid on the coal and make sure that each coal has some lighter fluid.

  • Never add lighter fluid to coal that is already burning even if the coal has not produced any flame. Heat vaporizes lighter fluid, and this can cause a flame up once the vapor encounters the flame.

  • When pouring the coal into the grill, use a kitchen towel (a dry one) or oven mitt because the handle can at times get really hot. If you want to make 2-zone fire, pile coal on one side when pouring because repositioning them when they are red hot is not easy.

How to Light Charcoal with Newspaper

​The better way to light the charcoal is by using some newspaper pieces. Look for a piece of old newspaper and use it to light the coal. Lots of flame helps the coal burn fast and completely.

Light charcoal using a coal chimney. Coal chimneys get enough charcoal burning without the need to add anything to the fire. A charcoal chimney lighter is a metallic tube, normally made of steel, which has a handle. Inside it is a grate that holds briquettes, which keeps them on top of a crumpled newspaper. The newspaper is what goes underneath the coal and lights the briquettes. This is how it works:

  • Take some newspaper sheets (about 1 or 2) then fold them up in a doughnut-ring shape. Take other newspaper sheets and do the same. Place the rings in the chimney’s circular bottom then pour the briquettes inside the chimney.

  • Use a lighter or match to light the papers from beneath. The starting coal’s heat enables a rise in the chimney air, and this pulls in more air via the bottom of the chimney.

  • When the briquettes have formed white ash, pour the coal that has lit into the grate then distribute the remaining briquettes wherever you need fire (use tongs).

The following video shows how to light charcoal with newspaper:

What About Electric Charcoal Chimney Lighter?

This looks like a ping-pong paddle’s elongated outline. The outline is the element loop that glows when it has been plugged it. Here are the steps for using it:

  • Take the charcoal and arrange them in a layer that is larger than the starter.

  • Place the lighter above the charcoal then arrange more charcoal in the shape of a pyramid over and on the loop. Plug the lighter in.

  • Wait for about 10 minutes, as it is when the coal will be glowing red, then remove the lighter and place it in a safe place to cool down.

Cooking Tips

  • Give your meat some flavor using a marinade or spice rub. Marinade are mostly wet, contain oil and acid like vinegar or lemon juice. It can also contain seasonings like ginger, garlic, herbs and pepper.

  • Rubs are made up of several spices, some salt and dry herbs, and are, therefore, dry. You can try different combinations of spices and herbs with seasoning and oil. Rub them into the meat then leave them for about half an hour or more. If you want to give the meat some more taste, you can skewer the meat with vegetables and make kebabs. If the skewer is wooden, soak them in cold water to keep them from burning fast.

  • When fat trickles from the meat to the coal, it can flare up creating flames. These flames char the meats outer part giving it a burnt taste. Therefore, keep a look out for dripping fat and move the food from flames if they appear.


Please Log In or add your name and email to post the comment.