Lighting The Fire Without Lighter Fluid
Now that the official start of spring has passed, I inevitably see more people grilling outdoors. While this should be a joyous occasion, there’s an evil that goes alongside the times that constantly irks me to no end: lighter fluid. Ever since I bought my first grill, invited some friends over, and started the fire with match light charcoal , the stuff has been my mortal enemy. On that fateful day, I followed protocol and let the coals burn until covered with gray ash before grilling, but even after that the first few rounds of food that came off the grill all had the horrible hint of chemical cooked in, not to mention the distinct lighter fluid odor that made its home in our clothes and hair for the rest of the day. It doesn’t take much to get a fire going without lighter fluid, so hopefully I can help make this stuff a thing of the past with a few helpful hints.
If you find yourself without a chimney starter, you can apply a similar method without the added equipment. Simply bunch up a couple pieces of newspaper and place them in the middle of the charcoal grate. Then build the coals up around the paper in a pyramid fashion, light the newspaper, and let it go. This will take longer to fully light than with a chimney, but the fire should still be ready in less time than it would take to burn off all traces of lighter fluid.
How To Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid
- Las Updated on
- May 3, 2021
At some point, clever marketing got in the way of common sense when it comes to charcoal grilling. Charcoal is notoriously hard to light, so, using the magic of modern science, lighter fluid was invented and sold to the masses.
But like Twinkies or TV dinners, what is convenient isnt always the best option.
In this guide, I will explain why you shouldnt use lighter fluid. I will also give you 5 convenient methods to light up your charcoal without sweating too much.
Reasons To Avoid Lighter Fluid
Despite being made to work for different purposes, most manufacturers rarely recommend using lighter fluid to ignite charcoal grilling. The reason is pretty simple.
Overall, the lighter fluid is manufactured with a certain amount of explosive substance. Therefore, when you use this combustible fluid to light the charcoal fire, it could impact the flavor of the food being cooked upon the fires lit with it.
Although the substance will soon disperse into the atmosphere when you are about to put the food on the charcoal grill, it still imparts a slightly unpleasant flavor. This is known to prevent you from attempting a perfectly grilled barbecue feast.
Grilling amateurs who attempt to build a long-lasting blaze would be keen on adding a generous amount of lighter fluid when starting the fire. But, of course, there is no significant difference in flavor until they have tried food being grilled over natural charcoal fires.;
Therefore, most people would rarely consider going back trying the food grilled upon fires lit up with lighter fluid due to its unpleasant flavor found in the food.
Don’t Miss: How To Grill Frozen Salmon
How To Light Charcoal With Lighter Fluid:
Step-1: The first step to light any kind of charcoal grill is cleaning ash from the coal box.
Step-2: Make a shape of coals. It is better to be a pyramid shape.
Step-3: Pour a decent amount of fluid on the coals. Let them soak the fluid for 5 minutes. Be cautious while pouring fluid not to get on your hands. Better to wear gloves.
Step-4: Light the coals with a match or lighter in 2-3 places of the shape carefully.
Step-5: Let them burn for 15 minutes until the coals get white.
Step-6: Spread the burning coals on the charcoal box.
Step-7: Put the foods on grilling grate and let them cooked.
Note: Dont pour lighter fluid on burning coals to heat up. It may be exposed.
Great Ideas For Charcoal Lighter Fluid Substitutes
- Darren Wayland
Lighter fluid is a quick and convenient way to get your coals ready for action. But did you know that its not strictly necessary? If youre out of lighter fluid or just dont want to add chemicals to your coals, you have other optionsand none of them involve match light briquettes, which are an abomination to true pitmasters. Take a look at our charcoal lighter fluid substitute suggestions before you strike that next match.
Recommended Reading: How To Grill Burgers Propane
Lighting Charcoal With Lighter Fluid
Ready to have your mind blown? You dont actually need lighter fluid to light your charcoal. And there are a couple of really good reasons to skip the lighter fluid. Chief among them are fire hazard and fumes.; Lighter fluid fumes can affect the smell and taste of your food. ;In addition, charcoal lighter fluid is made of either petroleum or alcohol which are regulated and even restricted in some areas because they have the potential of causing photochemical smog.
If it just doesnt seem right to light your grill without lighter fluid, all we ask is that you dont go crazy. The most you should use is 1/4 cup of fluid per pound of charcoal. Allow the lighter fluid to soak in for 30 seconds before lighting. And NEVER douse a burning fire with lighter fluid.
Not Sure How To Start A Charcoal Grill Here Are Three Easy Ways To Light Up The Coals
Whether you love the taste of roasted vegetables or the seared flavor of steak, theres no denying that grilling is one of the best ways to prepare summer staples.;Knowing how to use a charcoal grill is an essential summer skill. Charcoal grills are arguably the perfect way to get that classic grilled flavor, but if youve never used one before, youre probably wondering how to start a charcoal grill.
Thankfully, its not that hardstarting a charcoal grill definitely takes getting used to, but once youve mastered the process, youll be one step closer to that perfect hamburger. And even better, youll be able to show off at the next backyard barbecue.
Also Check: Pork Chop Temp On Grill
Two: Crumple Your Paper
Make four or five crumpled balls of newspaper, then arrange them in a pile in the center of your charcoal grate use more if you have a larger grill, but you need to leave room on the top.
Struggling to light your fire with paper alone?
You could take the time to soak half of each sheet in some vegetable, canola or olive oil to slow the burning process, before crumpling it up this might prolong your fire in general, too!
Coals Are Ready When Covered With Gray Ash
After lighting, the flames will subside, and you will see the edges of the coals turn gray. Eventually the ash will spread to each briquet. The coals are now ready to spread out and use. The entire process takes 10 minutes.
A drizzle of cooking oil on the newspaper makes it burn longermuch the same way the wick of a candle burns for a long time.
Each Kingsford briquet features Sure Fire Grooves® to help them catch fire faster.
Read Also: Do Weber Grills Come Assembled
Caveat To Outdoor Grilling
There is a negative to grilling outdoors. You may;ask what could be a;drawback;to outdoor cooking?
Why do we;think its negative? Because;it gives your food a chemical taste, which means the food absorbs that hint of the chemical,;not to mention the odor that your clothes and hair absorb.
Preparing the charcoal for indirect heat.
It isnt difficult to start a fire without lighter fluid. All you need is:
- Crumpled paper towels
- Vegetable oil
- A chimney starter
- Matches or a lighter.
The chimney starter is easy to find,;and youll quickly pay for the chimney starter by what you save in not purchasing lighter fluid.
Lighting Charcoal without Lighter Fluid
Why Wouldnt You Use Lighter Fluid
Well, for some, it could be as simple as not having any lighter fluid on hand. After all, we run out of supplies from time to time so that is more than plausible. But another reason for not using lighter fluid is that it can be a real negative while grilling.
You May Like: How To Clean Stainless Steel Bbq Grill
How To Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid Using These 7 Things
As Amazon Associates, I earn from Qualifying Purchases
There are several ways on how to light charcoal without lighter fluid. Even though the fluid is more quick and convenient, it is not a must to use it.
On the other hand, lighter fluid can be harmful, messy, and chemicals can get absorbed by food changing its taste.
Another drawback is that after lighting the charcoal you are left with the odor on your clothes or even hair.
Want to light charcoal in the backyard and you have no lighter fluid? .
Here are the different lighter fluid alternatives. Lets get started;
What Can Be Used As A Substitute For Lighter Fluid
If you prefer to use other alternatives or if you run out of lighter fluid, here are some of the best alternatives:
Using lighter fluid to heat up charcoal grills is faster and more efficient. It works by dousing the charcoal with fluid, which you will then light up with a match. But the problem with heating up the charcoal with lighter fluid is that it tends to produce a somewhat explosive flame, which could be potentially dangerous.
You May Like: How To Cook Pork Chops On Charcoal Grill
How To Light The Charcoal Using Newspaper
Why Avoid Lighter Fluid
No one wants a burger that tastes like lighter fluid, but many people still use the stuff because they believe charcoals need it to light. The truth is, there are many ways to get a charcoal fire roaring without resorting to lighter fluid.
Lighter fluid should be the last resort. Its a petroleum product, similar to kerosene, and its vapors and chemicals do not break down easily.
Before the vapors have burned off, the chemicals soak into your briquettes or hardwoods, and that funk just wont go away. No matter what you do, some of those chemicals wind up in your food.
In addition, its not uncommon to use a bit too much of the fluid which results in a flare-up that might burn your face and eybrows.
The downsides are obvious, and once you taste food made over high-quality coals with no lighter fluid, youre likely never to go back. If youre putting time and money into getting the best tasting food off of your charcoal grill, the lighter fluid has got to be the first thing to go.
Read Also: Grilled Pork Chop Temperature
With A Chimney Starter
A chimney starter is a popular fluid-free method of lighting charcoal.
Its simple and the materials youll need include newspaper rings, and firelighters like paraffin, tumbleweed etc.
First, get some papers and roll them to create a ring but as you do so, be careful to leave adequate space for the papers to light up nicely. Use the lighters we mentioned earlier to spark off the papers.
Next, fill your grill with a reasonable charcoal amount youll use during your grilling sessions.
You may start with little amounts and add more when your charcoal lights up. Expect to see a huge cloud of smoke for a while before the charcoal starts turning red. You can arrange them and add more if you prefer.
You can check out the BBQ Dragon Chimney Starter which is a fast and easy way to light your coal. It has unique side holes and you can combine it with a BBQ dragon fan for the best results.
Overall, though using a charcoal chimney is chemical-free, its expensive in the long-run.
You Can Use An Electric Charcoal Starter:
There is another name for electrical charcoal is Charcoal Iron, it considered a great piece of attachment to light up your charcoal in small time. There are both pros and cons for this type of chimney starter as it doesnt need any twigs, or newspaper balls, or any lighter or matchstick, but you need to find a switch or power socket nearby you.;
There are few steps to follow to start up an electric charcoal starter, initially, you need to gather some charcoal pieces inside the cavity present in the grill. Next, you need to assemble the electric starter and put some more charcoal on top of the iron rod. All the process of heating will only take 8 to 10 minutes.
You May Like: Cod Loins On The Grill
Using The Turbo Flame
Step 1: Pour The Charcoal Into The Grill
Apart from the chimney, you can have another option which is the turbo flame. It is kind of either an extended lighter or a small torch to get your charcoal going.
As always, the first thing to do is take the charcoal and pour it into the grill. Then, you need to make a mound out of it so as to get some air inside.
Step 2: Extend The Lighter Past The Turbo Flame
After that, you can get your turbo flame product together with the lighter. Extend the lighter past the nozzle of the turbo flame, and you can get it on.
As the flame gets going, it is going to spark again. However, you can see that it is a little more accelerated this time.
As a result, do not forget to stand back from the flame. The great thing about the turbo flame is that you can get 10 or 15 minutes before the can runs dry.
Before ending my sharing, I still have a fantastic tip regarding the used charcoal. Since it is a natural product, you can add the ashes to the soil amendment.
;And then, you can put this mixture right back into your garden. It will provide great nutrients for your plants.
Arrange Fuel And Coals
For best results, use a slightly twisted piece of newspaper. You can also use some of the brown paper from the charcoal bag. After youve twisted the paper, make it into a circle, and pour a little bit of cooking oil on it to help it burn longer. Place the paper on your charcoal grate and light it.
Once the paper starts burning steadily, place a few coals on top of it and watch for ash developing on them. When ash forms on the bottom of the coals, you can flip them over to heat the other side. Once those coals have ignited, you can place others on top of and around them and close the lid. The burning coals will ignite the other ones. This usually takes about 30 minutes.
Tip: If youre having trouble getting the coals to ignite with paper alone, you can get a small fire going by adding twigs to the burning paper. Once the twigs are burning well, then you can add a few pieces of coal. Once those pieces of charcoal are burning, you can add more, close the lid, and wait for them to develop gray ash.
Also Check: Grilled Pork Chop Temperatures
Why Is It A Bad Idea To Use Lighter Fluid To Start A Charcoal Grill
Lighter fluid creates smell chemical smells and dirty smoke when you start a fire. If too much fluid is used and left unburned during the charcoal lighting process, the remaining liquid in your grill will generate dirty smells and smoke, which will ruin the flavor of your food.
Lastly, lighter fluid cannot be safely used in certain charcoal grills. For example, if you own a Kamado charcoal grill, using lighter fluid can be dangerous as kamado grills are built using materials that can absorb the liquid, which can keep igniting during the cook and contaminate your food.
Also, due to their shape, Kamado grills can help create a fumes fire. In fact, you can damage your kamado grill using lighter fluid. It will take a while for the excess fluid to be burned.;
Most experienced cooks and pitmasters will never use chemicals to start their fires as the goal is to have the cleanest fire and smoke possible to cook the food.