How To Light A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

How To Light A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Grilling, the cooking style of kings. While lighter fluid makes for a good last resort for your grill, there are so many better ways to get that fire flaming hot.

When you are grilling over a nice hot charcoal fire, the last thing you want to do is have chemicals all mixed up in there. No one wants their burgers tasting of chemicals! You want to make sure that your charcoal fire is as chemical free as it can possibly be.

Thankfully there are so many ways that you can go about doing so, and some of them are nearly as simple. Let’s take a look at the best ways to get your fire flaming and your food fabulous, without using lighter fluid. 

Pre-grilling thoughts

About to start up your grill? Hold on a second! Let’s think about what we are cooking first, and also how hot your grill needs to be. Will those coals need to be burning for a while, and do you have enough charcoal to begin with. 

You also need that grill to be squeaky clean, so give it a wash if it isn’t, you don’t want leftover ash and burned up food from last time to be blocking the airflow in your grill, that just makes it harder to get your fire burning hot. 

Make sure your grill is clean, with no old ash in there, before you start adding more charcoal in, this way you ensure that whatever method you use, your charcoal ignites fast. 

Now that you have made sure it’s all clean, let’s have a look at those alternative methods. 

A safer alternative to using lighter fluid 

Lighter fluid is one of the less favorable parts to outdoor grilling, it can leave a chemical taste behind on your food, as your food will absorb some chemical taste while it is cooking.

If you are very gentle you may not notice it, but most people will agree that using more natural methods of lighting your charcoal grill will have a much better impact on the taste of the food. 

People who have just started up with their grilling may put too much lighter fluid on there, and this results in that god awful chemical smell. Luckily there are so many ways to light it, so put that lighter fluid out of sight, we don’t need it. 

There are many ways you can go about lighting your grill, but there are two we really want to focus on here. 

  • Fire starter briquettes. 
  • Electric Starters.

Think about fire starter briquettes

Once you have tried out fire starter briquettes, there is no going back. It is just so easy to do. 

Fire starter briquettes are widely available, they are combustible briquettes, they are available at a majority of hardware stores, home improvement stores, and even some grocery stores will stock them too.

What’s even better is they don’t leave behind any residual odors, or unpleasant flavors in your food. It is just as it should be.

So, once you have gone down to the store and picked up some of these briquettes, add your fresh charcoal to the cooking chamber and open the vents up.

Now, bury the fire starter in at the top of the pile, and ensure it is completely covered. This might seem silly, but there is a very good reason for this, and once you have your grill going, you will see why. 

You need to use a lighter or a long match (whichever you have on hand, it doesn’t really matter) to light the fire starter, following the instructions on the package it came in.

Now, replace the grill lid and sit back, crack open a beer, and let the fire starter do its thing. 

After around 10 minutes or so, go and check how it’s doing. The briquette should be totally burned away, leaving behind only the lit coals on top of it (this is why we bury and cover it).

Crack open the lid and allow the smoke to escape, then remove it entirely. Don’t just swing it open, no one wants a face full of smoke. Rearrange the coats if necessary, use some of your grilling tools and some heat proof gloves to do so, it will be hot. 

Once you have replaced the grates, give your grill another five minutes or so, then apply a thin coating of oil and cook away. It really is just that simple, and you avoid all the chemical nonsense that comes with lighter fluid. 

Consider electric starters

Now we have looked at a more natural way, we want to introduce you to an electric way. Electric starters are wand-style devices that are equipped with a heating element on one end, this is usually curved into a loop.

They are convenient and energy efficient, however, they do require outside power sources, so while they are great for pool party grilling, they’re not the most suitable for camping or tailgating. 

To use these, assemble your charcoal in the cooking chamber as usual and then place the starter across the pile so that the heating element touches the coals. Pop in some briquettes or pieces of lump charcoal on top of the element and plug it in.

You may need a power extension cord, depending on where your grill is. When it is working it should glow red, which lets you know not to touch it. 

After some time the coals should be hot and smoking, once this happens you can remove the starter very carefully, do not touch the heating element for a while, even if it is not red anymore.

Store it somewhere safe, it is best to give it a designated home away from people and flammable materials. 

About 10 minutes after you have removed the starter from the coals they should be coated in a layer of silver ashes, and this is when you can start up your cooking. So simple, and so easy, with no chemical flavors!

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