How to Fire Charcoal for Barbecue?

Traditional briquettes are inexpensive, easy to light, and burn for an extended period. If you want a more substantial, smoky flavor, use hardwood charcoal (lump charcoal). These are extremely hot, but they burn out much faster.

Grilling is a great way to prepare summer staples, whether you prefer roasted vegetables or the seared flavor of the steak. Understanding how to use a charcoal grill is a must-have skill for the summer. Charcoal grills are arguably the best way to achieve that classic “grilled” flavor, but if you’ve never used one, you may be wondering how to start a charcoal grill.

Required Tools

We recommend these three alternatives because a charcoal fire started with lighter fluid tends to impart a chemical flavor to grilled foods. Here are some specifics about the tools needed:


A grate is required to separate it. The deep upper section is for coals, and the shallow lower area is for the newspaper. When lit, the tall, narrow shape directs heats up through the coals while keeping out any wind that could blow out the flame. The coals take approximately 30 minutes to heat up and are ready for grilling.

Looft Lighter 

A Looftlighter forces superheated air (about 1250°F) onto the charcoal to ignite the charcoal. Plugin the Looftlighter and aim it at the bottom of the coals to use it. Press and hold the tool’s button for about a minute until flames appear. At this point, the coals take about 20 minutes to burn down, but you can speed up the Process by blasting the coals for another 5 to 6 minutes until they are ashed over.

So, what are the tools required to light a Charcoal? Stick around because we’ll go over all of the tools you’ll need in the next section.

A Chimney Starter

You should consider getting a chimney starter if you still light your charcoal the old-fashioned way (dumping charcoal in the grill, dousing in lighter fluid, and lighting). It makes lighting charcoal much easier and faster. Place some newspaper or other fire-starting material at the bottom of the container, fill with charcoal, and light your material. Every time, you’ll have perfectly-lit charcoal in 10-15 minutes. When it’s ready, dump the charcoal into your grill, and you’re ready to go.

For Controlled Heat: A Charcoal Rake

After you’ve dumped your charcoal into the grill, you’ll need to wrangle it and organize it properly, especially if you want to use the two-zone method. You’ll need some charcoal rake for this.

Welding Gloves

Charcoal grills can get extremely hot dangerous when moving charcoal around. You could get a specialized pair of grilling gloves, but welding gloves do the same thing and are much less expensive. They even allow you to pick up scalding-hot grates or lids safely. Furthermore, welding gloves have a long gauntlet that can sometimes reach your elbows, making them the best thing to wear for general heat protection.

Bench Brush

Cleaning ashes from a charcoal grill can be a chore, one of the main reasons gas grills are so popular. Most charcoal grills have a mechanism at the bottom that allows you to dump the ashes into a bin easily, but a lot of it remains trapped inside the grill. A quick wipe down with a brush can speed up the process significantly.

The Process of Lighting up a Charcoal

There are a few different ways to lit up a charcoal fire. We will go over all of the methods here so that you can

  1. Use lighter fluid,
  2. Use a chimney, and
  3. Use an electric starter.

How to Lit up a Charcoal Grill using Lighter Fluid?

  • Step 1: Layout the coals. Make a pyramid out of your charcoal. First, make a large base, then stack the coals in smaller and smaller layers.
  • Step 2: Carefully pour lighter fluid over coals in an even layer. Use your lighter fluid according to the package directions, but generally, coat your coals evenly with the liquid.
  • Step 3: Hold your breath for 30 seconds. Allow the lighter fluid to absorb the coals for 30 seconds before lighting.
  • Step 4: Start the fire. Light the coals in several places with a grill lighter or a match with a long nose. Once your coals are lit, do not add any other lighter fluid.
  • Step 5: When the coals turn white, cover with a grate. When the coals are ready to use, they will catch fire and turn white. Spread them evenly, then place your grate on top and begin the grill.

How to Lit up a Charcoal Grill using a Chimney?

Follow these steps to use a charcoal chimney:

  • Step 1: Fill the chimney with charcoal.

Fill your chimney with the manufacturer’s recommended amount of charcoal. You want your charcoal to reach the container’s top but not overflow.

  • Step 2: Insert the starters into the chimney.

You can use any item that catches quickly because the starters will be lit on fire. Many people burn newspaper or old paper, but Josh suggests using household items that burn slower than paper, such as paper cups, wood chips, dryer lint, or wax.

  • Step 3: Light the fireplace.

Set the starters on fire beneath the chimney. For the next 10 mins, keep an eye on the coals.

  • Step 4: When you see flames, add coals to the grill.

Flipping the chimney over once you see flames poking through the coals is time. Grab the handle gently and pour the coals out.

  • Step 5: When the coals turn white, cover with a grate.

After a few minutes, when the coals have turned white, spread them out and cover them with a grate before you begin grilling.

Starting Charcoal Grill with an Electric Starter

  • Step 1: Layout your coals

Spread the coals out on the grill and arrange them in a pyramid shape.

  • Step 2: Position the starter’s nose in the center of your coals.

Plugin your electric firestarter, then insert the nose directly into the coals. It will immediately begin heating.

  • Step 3: Pull the lighter away from you when you see sparks.

Pull the lighter away from the pyramid once the sparks start.

  • Step 4: Continue lighting until the fire begins.

Move the Firestarter around and heat the coals until the fire starts, keeping it a few inches away from the stack. Take out the starter.

  • Step 5: When the coals turn white, cover with a grate.

When the coals are completely white, spread them out and add the grate.

Bottom Line

Although starting a charcoal grill takes some practice, you’ll be one step closer to that perfect hamburger once you’ve mastered it. Even better, you’ll be able to brag about it at your next backyard barbecue.