How To Add Charcoal To Grill

Should Charcoal Be On Fire When Grilling

How to Add Charcoal to a Grill : Patio Grilling

When grilling on high heat, create a two-fire zone: Stack more coals on one side of the grill for higher-temperature cooking, and the other side of the grill should have less charcoal for lower-temperature cooking. When grilling, sear foods on hot zone, then move over to cooler zone to cook through without burning.

How To Measure Charcoal To Grill

To measure how much charcoal you need to grill, you need to have a charcoal chimney. A charcoal chimney works for two purposes like measuring the charcoal and pouring the charcoal into the setup.

The volume of charcoal depends on your setup and the dish you are going to grill. Thats why I cannot tell you the exact quantity that you can use. You have to measure out the charcoal by following the instructions below.

For Tender Meat And Fish: Use lower heat to grill tender meat and whitefish. Get the chimney and pour 25% with charcoal.

For Sausages And Burgers: These types of food may need medium heat. Pour 50% of the chimney with charcoal. This volume of charcoal should be appropriate.

For Heavy Meat And Hot: If you are going to grill some heavy pieces of meat, then you may need a chimney full of charcoal. Moreover, you can try 75% of charcoal regarding the chimney. Remember, it will create extreme heat.

Do I Open The Vents Or Close Them When Lighting Charcoal

As we said above, fire needs oxygen to burn. So, open the lid, lid vent and vents on the bottom of the grill to let in air to fuel the flames. This will help oxygen reach the coals once theyre lit so they can burn hotter. Once theyre fully lit, you can adjust the vent opening to control the cooking temperature.

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Why You Should Use A Chimney Starter To Light Charcoal

Chimney starters, or charcoal chimneys are a great tool to help you easily light charcoal. They look like large steel mugs with a huge handle. Theres an open grate on the bottom, a fully open top, and strategically placed holes throughout to encourage airflow in the proper direction.

Heat from coals rise upward, and this contraption helps to concentrate all that heat in the metal cylinder which helps heat coals inside the chamber, instead of just escaping into the air.

You can score a chimney starter for around $15-25 dollars but they are durable and reusable.

How To Use A Charcoal Grill

How to Add Charcoal to a Grill : Patio Grilling

This article was co-authored by Fabricio Ferraz. Fabricio Ferraz is the Co-Owner and Operator of Hire a Cleaning. Hire a Cleaning is a family owned and operated business that has been serving San Francisco, California homes for over 10 years.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 67,440 times.

Grilling is a fun, tasty way to prepare a meal year round. Charcoal grills arent as easy to use as gas grills, but they give food even more flavor. Make things easier by starting with a charcoal chimney, then lay your prepared coals in your grill. Quick-cooking foods like hot dogs, hamburgers, and many vegetables can be cooked over an open grill. If youre working with slower-cooking foods like bone-in chicken or roasts, cover them up and check on them from time to time.

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How Many Times Can You Use Charcoal In A Grill

But instead of tossing every piece of that barely-used charcoal every time you start the grill again, Cooks Illustrated suggests using those coals one more time. Even though theyve been burned once, theyll reignite a second time. So its a big waste of money if youre throwing them away after one use.

Add Paper And Fill With Coals

  • Remove the grate at the bottom of your charcoal chimney. Place two sheets of wadded up newspaper in the bottom and put the grate back in place. Do not put too much paper inside or it will block the air flow needed for the paper to ignite.
  • From the bottom, pull a few pieces of paper out of the grate for easier lighting.
  • Fill the chimney starter to the top with charcoal. While you can use less charcoal, youll typically get better results if you fill the entire chimney to the top. Almost all grills can easily handle that much charcoal.

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How To Start A Charcoal Grill Fast & Keep The Charcoal Hot

Our guide to starting your charcoal grill will give you a couple different techniques for lighting your charcoal fast. Youll learn what it takes to keep your charcoal hot for searing, how to maintain low temps for slow cooking and keep the fire burning for hours. Well answer your most frequently asked questions and link you to the products that make charcoal grilling a whole lot easier.

How Do You Light Charcoal Fast

Adding more charcoal to your BBQ

The key to lighting charcoal fast is arranging the charcoal close enough together to spread the fire to adjacent coals and leave enough space between coals for air flow to feed the fire with oxygen. Another factor that affects fast lighting is using old charcoal or charcoal thats been exposed to wet weather always use fresh charcoal.

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How To Add More Charcoal To The Fire

If you’re still in a grilling frenzy but the briquettes are losing steam, don’t add unlit charcoal to the grill. This can produce a lot of acrid-tasting smoke and a quick rise in temperature, which may burn the food already on the grill. Instead, light a few more briquettes in your chimney and add them to the direct heat side of the grill to keep you going.

Leave Top Vent Open During Preheating And Cooking:

Like mentioned before, leaving the top vent open when youre cooking will maintain your desired temperature. However, when youre preheating is not when you should be closing this lid! Closing that top vent will decrease the heat being produced. Leave it open during both steps in order to have enough heat flowing throughout your charcoal grill.

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How Much Wood Will I Need

If youre using a low-and-slow cooking application, you should add a fresh handful of chips every half hour or so to maintain the best flavor. If youre just grilling a batch of chicken wings or sausages, a few handfuls should be all youll need. These should keep the smoke flavor going for about an hour.

How To Prep The Grill

Just like you spend time preparing your meat with marinades and rubs, take the time to get the grill ready. If your grates are dirty from the last cookout, it’s more likely that your food will stick and have “off” flavors. The best way to prep your grill before cooking is to clean it really well after cooking or just before cooking, when the grates are hot. If you grill regularly, give it a good scrub with those long handled brushes and some elbow grease before it has a chance to cool down. Not grilling that often? Give it a good scrub once the grill has fully preheated and remnants from the last grill session should scrape right off.

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Lighting Charcoal On Fire

The first method is placing newspapers under your charcoal and lighting them on fire. This creates an even layer of charcoal and paper that can be used as kindling once theyve burned out . You can then place these coals and ashes onto the rest of your lit charcoal in order to get the grill started.

My Process For Hitting The Right Temperature On Charcoal Grills

This is my process for hitting and maintaining low to medium temps of 225 375 °F

  • Top vent half-open.
  • Bottom vent half-open.
  • Place 1/2 to 1 full chimney of unlit coals onto your charcoal grate.
  • Fully light 1/4 chimney of coals, and when glowing red-hot place onto the unlit coals on the charcoal grate.
  • Close the lid, and allow the grill to come up to temp.
  • Use a digital BBQ thermometer to measure the internal temp of the grill.
  • If the grill begins to settle at a temperature that is below your target temp, open the bottom vent further.
  • If it begins to creep past your target temp, close the bottom vent a little.
  • Adjust in small increments until your target temp is hit.
  • Always adjust by small amounts and wait for a good 10 to 15 minutes to see the actual effects after any vent change.
  • During the cook, monitor things, and make adjustments as necessary.
  • If it gets too hot, close the bottom vent 1/8th
  • If it gets too low, open the bottom vent 1/8th
  • For hitting med to high temps of 375 °F and above:

  • Top vent FULLY open.
  • Bottom vent half open
  • Place 1/2 to 1 full chimney of unlit coals onto your charcoal grate
  • Fully light 1/2 to 3/4 chimney of coals, and when glowing red-hot place onto the unlit coals on the charcoal grate.
  • Follow from step 5 above for hitting lower temps.
  • As general rules of thumb, depending on your particular grill and how many coals are currently lit:

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    Can I Pour Water On My Charcoal Grill

    No matter what you do, never pour water directly on hot charcoal. Yes it will definitely put out the fire but that doesnt mean its a good idea.

    The thermal shock of drastic temperature change can cause your grill to crack. This is not a joke when grills are so expensive to begin with!

    Another issue with pouring water over hot charcoal is the sudden cloud of steam. It can be hazardous and cause your eyes to water severely.

    Then after all this imagine the cleanup youll have to do. Youll have to remove all the charcoal from the grill, clean the bottom of the grill very thoroughly to remove the ash and water. It can get very messy. So why bother?

    Build A Two Zone Fire

    How To Set Up A Charcoal Grill For ANY Cook

    Charcoal grills, unlike smokers, require a separate setup to lower cooking temperatures. Its simple to set up a two-zone grill. Stack lit coals on one side of the grill only when moving them into the grill. Convection cooking will be used to cook food in the indirect cooking zone, which means heated air will circulate around the food. It will ensure that the meat is cooked evenly throughout, not just on the top. Searing takes place in the hot zone, whereas indirect cooking takes place in the cooler zone.

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    Fastest Way To Keep Your Charcoal Grill Hot

    Add coals regularly to keep your grill burning hot. Don’t wait until you’re almost out of briquettes to add more. Instead, add 5-10 pieces of charcoal when you have roughly half of your charcoals remaining, usually every 30 minutes or so.

    HOT TIP: Wearing gloves while lighting charcoal will help protect your hands from the intense heat.

    Arranging Your Coals From Direct And Indirect Heat

    While you might think that you want to cook everything from hot dogs to kabobs right over the coals, thats not always the case.

    Inside your grill, youll want to push your charcoal to one side. This area will be hotter and is where youll do all your direct heat grilling. Foods that should be grilled with direct heat are sausages, kabobs, shrimp and any food that you want to be seared like steaks.

    The side without the coals will still be hot, just not scorching. This is the indirect heat area. Use indirect heat to grill foods that take 20 minutes or longer to cook like larger or tough cuts of meat. You can also use the indirect heat area of your grill to keep foods warm.

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    How To Start A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

    Did you know its possible to start a charcoal grill without lighter fluid? While nothing besides lighter fluid will provide the necessary heat, this method of starting your charcoal does not include any chemicals or odors.

    There are three main methods that people use to start charcoal grills without lighter fluids. The first two involve creating fires or embers before adding them to the grill as Blackstone Grill, while the third replaces the need for fire.

    Does Charcoal Need To Be Grey Before Cooking


    Wait until your charcoal has burned to an even temperature before placing any meat on the grill grates. When the charcoal firsts turns white, it is hot on the outside, but still cool on the inside. You want to wait until at least 2/3rds of the charcoal have turned white and the charcoal has stopped smoking.

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    Why Is My Bbq Not Hot Enough

    There are many areas of concern that can cause low flames, such as a faulty regulator, a leaking propane tank, a tripped OPD device and blocked orifices. If rotating the knobs clockwise on your gas grill doesnt increase the size of the flame, troubleshoot some of these areas that can cause a low flame.

    When Should I Add More Charcoal To My Grill

  • Can I pour water on my charcoal grill?
  • Once the first run is cooking well, I gradually add unlit charcoal into the pan with the burning charcoal, usually 34 briquettes every 15 minutes. This keeps fresh fuel in and also helps me control the smoking temperature. The door also allows for replenishing the wood chips, which also help control the heat.

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    Grill Over The Right Temperature

    Charcoal grills take 20 to 30 minutes to properly warm up. Once you distribute your coals, cover the grill and let the grates heat up. But without those fancy knobs on a gas grill, how will you know what temperature you’re working with? Hold your hand about six inches above the grate. If you can leave it there for six or seven seconds, it’s medium heat. Four to five seconds is medium-high. And if you can only keep it there for one or two seconds? You’ve reached high heat, baby!

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    Why Wont My Grill Get Hot Enough

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    Problems with gas flow can keep a gas grill from getting hot enough. First, make sure theres plenty of gas in the tank-the diminished gas flow from a nearly empty tank wont supply the burners with enough gas to heat properly. Clean the burner tubes so the burners heat properly and replace any damaged burner tubes.

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    How To Use Wood Chips On A Charcoal Grill

    You can use wood chips on a charcoal grill even if your unit doesnt come with a smoker box. Wrap handfuls of wood chips in a double layer of aluminum foil and seal the packets tightly, then poke holes in the foil. Once the coals have ashed over, add the packets to the fire and proceed with your chosen recipe.

    How Many Times Can You Reuse Lump Charcoal

    You usually put in 2 to 3 times as much as you need. Much of the charcoal is either partially charred or unburnt altogether. Some of us will either just let it burn out all the way, while others will just close the lid and discard them before the next grill.

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    Douse Coals With Water

    Step 2. Dispose of old charcoal and ash

    Once your used charcoal and ash is completely cold, you can throw it away. We recommend wrapping completely in aluminum foil before tossing into a non-combustible outdoor trash receptacle.

    Step 3: Re-use partially burned coals

    If youd like to re-use partially burned coals to fuel your next grilling session, dont extinguish them by submerging in water. Instead, carefully spray down your coals with water to prevent further burning. Once completely cooled, partially used coals should be allowed to dry and kept in the grill for later use.

    Learn The Benefits Of A Charcoal Chimney Starter

    How To Use Charcoal on the Grill

    A tool designed to help you get your charcoal ready for cooking before it goes into the bottom of your grill, charcoal starters are typically ignited with newspaper or some other type of easily flammable material. The goal is to get your charcoal burning evenly so you dont have hot-spots or dead zones once your food hits the grates.

    Here are a few reasons a charcoal chimney should be included with your other grilling accessories:

    • Eliminates the need for lighter fluid on your charcoal, so you can buy natural briquettes that dont pose any health risks for cooking over an open flame.
    • Ensures that youre working with an even heat source, eliminating hot zones and dead areas on charcoal grills to cook consistently every time.
    • Makes your coals less susceptible to wind and weather changes. Charcoal briquettes that come out of a chimney will be heated thoroughly, making them less likely to extinguish in the middle of grilling.

    Tip: Not quite sure how to use your grill yet? Check out our guide on how to use a charcoal grill before you get started. After youre done grilling, take a few minutes to learn how to clean a grill properly.

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