lighting a charcoal grill

The Best Techniques for Lighting a Charcoal Grill

A charcoal grill is a great way to be able to grill and cook your favorite meats. It’s a cheaper alternative to more expensive grills that use propane and can ignite themselves. Although charcoal grills are cheaper than propane grills, they’re still really good at grilling meat, and some people prefer the taste of the meat when a charcoal grill is used. Charcoal gives more of a smoky taste to the meat. The trouble with charcoal grills is that you need to know how to light them properly, and that can be a little difficult. Have no fear! It’s easy to learn and you’ll be a pro in no time. Here are the best techniques for lighting a charcoal grill. 

Different Lighting Techniques

It’s important to note that lighting a charcoal grill can be done many different ways. There is not one right way to do it. Most people will find what they have the most success with and stick to that. Other people might do it completely different. It’s all up to you. There are 3 main techniques for lighting a charcoal grill that will be discussed in this article; the lighter fluid method, the charcoal chimney starter method, and the match light charcoal method.

The Lighter Fluid Method

lighting a charcoal grill

Image Source: Kingsford

Charcoal will not light with a match directly, so it’s important that you find another way to light the charcoal. Lighter fluid is a good way to go. It’s very simple and easy to use. However, lighter fluid can be dangerous so extreme precautions should be taken.

Step 1

Put a large mound of charcoal on top of your charcoal grill. Put the charcoal as close together as you can, this will help the other charcoal to light quickly. Charcoal that is spread out will not stay lit. Charcoal that is close together holds onto heat making certain that the charcoal stays lit.

Step 2

Put lighter fluid on top of the mound of charcoal. Do this very carefully. Make sure that none of the lighter fluid gets on your clothing because it is extremely flammable. Follow the directions on the lighter fluid bottle. Lighter fluid is only for the use of lighting unlit charcoal. Never squirt lighter fluid on charcoal that is already lit, the fire could injure someone.

Step 3

Light the charcoal with a match right after you squirt them with the lighter fluid. The charcoal will catch on fire and begin to burn. Charcoal turns gray when they become hot, this is when they are ready to use. Spread the charcoal out evenly once they turn gray so that meat will cook evenly all around.

The Charcoal Chimney Starter Method

lighting a charcoal grill

Image Source: Pixabay

A charcoal chimney starter is a large metal cylinder that resembles a chimney on a house. The chimney has two separate compartments, or chambers, one for the charcoal and one for newspaper. 

Step 1

Put charcoal in the top compartment of the chimney. Usually, a charcoal chimney can hold around 100 pieces of charcoal, or briquettes as they are often called.

Step 2

Light the newspaper and put it in the compartment beneath the charcoal. The newspaper will burn and the charcoal will start to catch fire as they sit above the flames of the newspaper. Keep checking the charcoal to see if they are starting to smoke and turn gray. Sometimes the newspaper’s flame goes out and needs to be relit.

Step 3

Remove the chimney and spread out the burning charcoal once the briquettes are gray and you see flames on them. This process doesn’t take very long, but is a little longer than using lighter fluid. It should only take about 15 minutes to get really good, hot charcoal.

The Match Light Charcoal Method

lighting a charcoal grill

Image Source: Kingsford

This method is by far the easiest, but it is a little more expensive to do. There are special kinds of charcoal that can be purchased that makes lighting really easy. Match light charcoal has lighter fluid actually inside the charcoal itself. This makes this type of charcoal a little more expensive than traditional charcoal. 

Step 1

Put the charcoal in a mound so that the briquettes will help light each other. Remember, briquettes that are spread out will not stay lit until they have been burning for a long time. Make sure that the pile isn’t too big either, you want it to be just right so that your meat cooks evenly.

Step 2

Light the briquettes with a match. It’s that easy. The briquettes will light right away because they have lighter fluid inside them. This makes lighting a charcoal grill super easy. You should see flames coming off of your charcoal, if not there might be something wrong with it.

Step 3

Spread out the charcoal when they’re gray and have flames on them. Gray charcoal means it will stay lit when it gets spread out. Don’t keep the charcoal in a mound once you start cooking, your meat will not cook evenly.

Why Does the Technique Matter?

These Techniques Work

These are tried and true ways to light a charcoal grill. Lighting a charcoal grill isn’t always as simple as using a match. Although, it can be if you want it to be. The match light briquettes make lighting a charcoal grill super easy, but you’re going to have to spend more money on those. However, if you’d rather have convenience and you’re willing to pay for it then this might not be a problem for you.

Better Meat

Using proper techniques will also help you to have the best tasting meat possible. Your meat will also be more evenly cooked when you use proper techniques.

Safety

The proper techniques for lighting a charcoal grill also matter because it can be dangerous if you don’t do it correctly. Don’t just dump a bunch of lighter fluid on a pile of charcoal and see what happens. That could end badly. Any lighter fluid that gets on your clothes could catch on fire if you’re too close to the fire.

Summing Up

Charcoal grills are great and lighting them doesn’t need to be difficult. Lighting a charcoal grill can be as simple as lighting a match, depending on the type of charcoal you buy. Charcoal grills give meat a great flavor, and they are less expensive than a propane grill with an igniter. This is a great grill for people that want to grill their meat, but are on a tighter budget. Summer is almost over so it’s time to use that charcoal grill as many times as you can before the weather starts getting colder. The grilling season is coming to an end. Lighting a charcoal grill is simple and it will work whether you want to cook steaks, pork chops, or chicken. Go get grilling before it’s too late! 

Image Source: Pixabay

Denali Gillen

I am a farmer’s wife living a farmer’s life. I love having wide open spaces and plenty of space to raise a family. Making the most out of outdoor spaces is something I never get tired of!

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