How to Light Charcoal

Barbecuing is a popular cooking method all over the world. It’s a great way to cook meats and other food items, and it’s also a lot of fun. If you’re new to barbecuing, one of the most important things you need to know is how to light charcoal.

Lighting charcoal is actually quite simple, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of lighting charcoal, so you can get started on your barbecue journey.

Method 1: How to light a charcoal grill with lighter fluid

This tried-and-true method works well to get your charcoal started if you don’t have a chimney. Here are some tips to use lighter fluid safely.

 

  1. ARRANGE THE CHARCOAL INTO A NEAT MOUND
    Piling the charcoal into a mound or pyramid will increase contact and help the fire spread.
  2. ADD LIGHTER FLUID TO THE PILE OF UNLIT CHARCOAL AND LIGHT IMMEDIATELY
    Carefully squirt lighter fluid on the top and sides of the charcoal mound, following lighter fluid directions. Light immediately after applying the fluid. Never squirt lighter fluid onto flaming or hot coals — we can’t stress that enough.
  3. COALS ARE READY WHEN COVERED WITH GRAY ASH
    After the fluid burns off, the edges of the coals will turn gray. As the coals continue to burn, the ash spreads to cover each briquet. Once mostly covered in ash, the coals are ready to spread out and use. The entire process takes about 15 minutes.

Method 2: How to light a charcoal grill with a chimney starter

This simple device uses paper — most commonly newspaper — to light the charcoal. The charcoal is held within the chimney above the flames, so the edges light quickly and help ignite neighboring charcoal.

 

  1. FILL THE CHIMNEY WITH CHARCOAL
    Fully fill the chimney with charcoal. A standard chimney holds about 4 pounds of Kingsford® Charcoal.

  2. ADD KINDLING AND LIGHT IT
    For kindling you can use old newspaper, used paper bags or your choice of purpose-made chimney starters.
    To light with newspaper, loosely crinkle one or two sheets so that they’ll fill the bottom of the chimney. Place the newspaper on the grill grate and fully cover with the chimney. Light the newspaper in several spots.
    Pro Tip: ​​Place three charcoal briquets directly on the grill grate, squirt with lighter fluid and light. Then put a full chimney on top — the chimney will then light without kindling.
    As the newspaper burns in the chamber below, the flames light the edges of the charcoal above. Peek through the vents of the chimney to check if the coals have started and the edges of the coals have turned gray.

  3. WHEN ALL COALS ARE ASHED OVER, POUR OUT THE CHIMNEY
    After about 15 to 20 minutes, you’ll see the coals starting to glow through the vents and flames starting to flicker over the top layer. Pour when all the coals in the chimney are ashed over. Then spread the coals out.

Method 3: How to light a charcoal grill without lighter fluid

Easy-to-light Kingsford® Match Light® Charcoal has just the right amount of lighter fluid added to the briquets, so all you do is light it with a match. This method is perfect for tailgating and on-the-go grilling.

 

  1. ARRANGE THE CHARCOAL INTO A NEAT MOUND
    It’s important not to skip this step. Piling the coals into a mound or pyramid will help increase the charcoal contact area and help the fire spread so you’re ready to cook faster.

  2. LIGHT THE CHARCOAL
    Using a match, light the edge of a few of the Match Light® briquets. The flame will spread to the other briquets in the pile.

  3. COALS ARE READY WHEN COVERED WITH GRAY ASH
    After lighting, the flames will subside, and you’ll see the edges of the coals turn gray. Eventually the ash will spread to each briquet. The charcoal is now ready to spread out and use. The entire process takes about 10 minutes.

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