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.
How To Start A Charcoal Grill A Complete Step
Charcoal grilling is different than gas and electric grilling. On a gas or electric grill, you can turn the fire on/off by simply pressing a button. With charcoal, it requires time and patience to get the fire going as well as to snuff it out.
Because of that, Ill show you how to start a charcoal grill properly in this article. First, well walk through different types of charcoal grill and the accessories we need. Next is the 5 effective methods to light your charcoal, followed by what to do after it is lit. Then, well end the article with extinguishing the fire after youre done cooking.
If you just got a brand new charcoal grill, this article will help you avoid some rookie mistakes and speed up the learning process. If you already had some charcoal cooks under your belt, you might pick up a few useful tips or two.
Lets get the fire started.
Lighting Charcoal With Lighter Fluid
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Fire Lighter Or Fire Starter Method
I think this is the best and most cost-effective method for kamado-style grills.
Fire lighters or starters use paraffin wax, compressed cardboard or wax coated wood shavings to ignite the charcoal. They also work well to start your chimney and dont leave ash as a newspaper will. Also, paraffin wax is non-toxic and doesnt leave any odor or residue.
You will find a variety of brands, in cubes, strips or loosely packed in a box or bag.
You can also make firestarters yourself. Here is a video demonstrating the technique using paper egg cartons and shortening instead of wax. They have a phenomenal 8-minute burn time.
Personally though, I would just buy some in, as thats too much faffing around for me.
Step 1 Place the fire starter under the chimney or directly on the pile of charcoal
Step 2 Light it.
Thats all there is to using these to light the coals.
- If the flammable agent is chemical, it can affect the taste of your food, so make sure they are labelled natural.
These starters will work in any grill or campfire. Avoid fire starters that use other chemicals besides paraffin wax or vegetable oil. These can taint your cooking with chemical taste if not completely burned.
How To Light A Gas Bbq
Gas BBQs are super easy to start up
Not everyone owns a charcoal-fuelled barbecue. Some opt for one of the best gas BBQs instead. As the experts at Weber say, these don’t require any additional lighting materials except for their gas fuel. However, there’s still some useful tips you should know to get the temperatures optimum for cooking:
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Learn The Benefits Of A Charcoal Chimney Starter
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.
- 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.
How To Clean A Charcoal Grill
Clean the grill right after cooking, while its still hot, using a stiff-wire grill brush. Use it every time you grill to remove food particles from the cooking surface.
If you’re looking for an alternative to using wire brushes , rub your grill grates with a peeled half onion,” pitmaster Megan Day told TODAY Food. “Allow the grill to heat up to a high temperature. Pierce the half onion with a fork and rub the cut-side down along the grill grates. The onion’s juices will release and produce steam to remove the bits and charred on debris.”
This post was originally published on May 25, 2016. Related:
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What Type Of Charcoal Is Best
When it comes to charcoal, there are two main type: briquettes and lump. The one you choose really depends on what you’re making and your overall preference. Briquettes are engineered from compressed wood and other additives — they burn longer with a steady temperature. This makes them ideal for long, slow cooking, like smoking a brisket or making pulled pork.
Lump charcoal is made from whole pieces of hardwood. It lights quickly and burns hotter and fasterperfect for burgers, steaks and chops. Because lump charcoal allows you to easily control the heat and cooks food faster, it is considered superior by most grill mastersbut try both to see which one you prefer.
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.
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How To Light A Charcoal Grill With A Coal Chimney
Charcoal chimneys are a useful way to light coals because they allow for adequate ventilation while heating, and you can move them around easily as need be.
Hereâs how to use a charcoal chimney:
1. Purchase a charcoal chimney. The Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter is a really popular option.
2. Fill your chimney according to the instructions. Youâll usually fill the chimney nearly to the top with charcoal, but donât let it overflow.
3. Add starters below the chimney. You can use newspaper or old paper, but these burn quickly. For a slower and more even burn, use things like wood chips or dryer lint . You can also drizzle cooking oil on newspaper for a longer burn. Some purchasable charcoal starters have a scent and flavor if you want to add a little gusto to your cook.
4. Light the starters under the chimney using a grill lighter or blowtorch. Watch the coals for about 10 minutes, or until you see flames coming through. If the coals arenât burning, you may need to add more starter underneath.
5. Once you see flames, youâll need to flip the chimney. Follow the instructions to do this safely. Grab the handle and carefully pour out the coals.
6. Let the coals finish burning and turn a grayish-white color. Using heat resistant gloves and grill tongs, spread the coals in an even layer in your Kick Ash Basket, put your grill grates on, and start cooking.
Paper Kindling Charcoal Method
With this method, you build a fire to light your charcoal.
Its more labor intensive and not always reliable. But, if you can do it with one match you might get a merit badge from the Boy Scouts for fire building.
Step 1 Make a base for your fire by putting down a layer of charcoal or briquettes.
Step 2 Wad up 2 to 4 sheets of newspaper and place them in the center.
Step 3 Add thin, dry sticks in a criss-cross pattern over the paper. Press down to make a level surface.
Step 4 Add some charcoal on top and light the paper.
Step 5 Once some of the charcoal lights and starts to ash over, add more to build up your fire.
- You need fire building skills, dry kindling wood and patience
- Youre making a fire to start a fire
- Hard to do in wet conditions
This method takes the longest. But youll get the satisfaction knowing you can build a fire and that you didnt use any lighter fluid or starters.
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Extinguish The Fire After Cooking
Once youre done with the cooking, quickly scrub your grate. Then close the lid and all the vents to snuff out the fire. Avoid using water to choke a charcoal fire. The hot steam can burn you and damage the internal wall of your grill.
Wait a few days before you clean out the ash. You can reuse the leftover charcoal depending on what type. Lump is reusable while briquettes tend to fall apart after the first use.
Remember to cover the grill and keep it dry and ready for the next cook.
Safely Extinguishing A Charcoal Fire
Charcoal stays hot and can hide embers strong enough to start a fire for up to 24 hours after cooking, so it is really important to carefully close out a fire. When youre done cooking, close all the vents lower and upper on the grill. Then spray the charcoal with water and use long tongs to stir and extinguish the fire. Cover the grill tightly with the lid and let it cool for several hours before moving or storing.
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Choosing A Charcoal Grill
If youre looking to buy a grill or just upgrade the one you have, there are a few criteria to keep in mind.
- Shape: Youll find charcoal grills in many shapes and sizes. Round kettle shapes are very common, though you can also find barrel-style, rectangular and square grills. Any shape will work, but you may prefer one based on what suits your yard, storage space and cooking style.
- Surface area: Grills come in all sizes. Make sure youre buying one with enough space for your needs.
- Ease of cleaning: Charcoal grilling is a messy business. Look for models that give easy options for cleanup including ash containers.
- Price: Charcoal grills vary greatly in price. The classic Weber kettle grill starts at around $100 and is a great option for amateur and pro grillers alike. Youll also find some pretty fancy charcoal grills out there nearing the $1,000 mark. Its all up to you and your budget.
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.
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Is Lump Charcoal Hard To Light
Lump charcoal is a natural fuel source of choice to grill and makes an outside barbecue party. Whether any dish you are cooking, you will need hot coals to cook the food. The charcoal will heat enough to cook your food and provide you a unique smoky flavor.
However, in some cases, when you light up the charcoal by using fire or fluid, the charcoal may ignite, but it will not keep burning for a long time. So, is lump charcoal hard to light? In my opinion, the lump charcoal is not hard to light and also not difficult to keep lit too.
If the charcoal no longer stays lit, you can refer to some of the causes below:
- Hardwood Charcoal
If you buy some charcoal from the store, it may have many fillers, binders, and chemicals in those lumps. So, the next time you buy, remember to check the ingredients if it contains something to make your charcoal hard to light.
Check the quantity needed from you.
Before lighting your grill, you should check how much charcoal you need, how hot the grill requires, and how long the grill will last. It would be best if you prepared all to make sure the lump charcoal will light constantly.
- Check the grill condition
You also clean the grill to ensure open airflow for the charcoal burn for a long time. If the leftover ash and food of the last grill are still there, they will block the air that charcoal needs to burn intensely.
Types Of Charcoal Grill
There are many types of charcoal grill. On one end, you have the most basic brazier grill, which only includes a cooking grate and charcoal pan. Similar to the Japanese hibachi, the brazier grill is known for cooking over direct high heat and its portability.
On the other end, youve got the monstrous horizontal barrel grill . This bad boy leans toward smoking rather than grilling. A commercial unit costs around a few hundred dollars while a custom-built one is more expensive. Despite that, once you master the offset smoker, it will earn you respect as a serious pitmaster.
Close to the center is the ceramic kamado grill. This grill is known for the heat and moisture retention. Big name brands include Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe to name a few. You can grill and smoke with a kamado. Its chosen charcoal is lump rather than briquettes.
Right at the center is the classic Weber Kettle. As an American icon, the Kettle sets the standards for charcoal grilling. Pretty much everybody starts out with a Kettle before moving on to other charcoal grills. From searing steaks to slow n low, you can do anything with a Weber Kettle.
Now, there are many more types of charcoal grills and they all share similar features like cooking grid, charcoal grate/chamber, and vents system. Lets understand each component a bit better by using the Kettle as an example.
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