Exchange Bar and Grill is reader-supported. When you buy through a link on this page, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

How to Light a Charcoal Grill

Those who own more expensive grill models with a gas ignition system have nothing to worry about here. For those who have to set the charcoals on fire, on the other hand, I have several methods.

I know how frustrating and time-consuming this activity can be. That’s why you should learn one of the below methods so that in the future you can avoid unnecessary stress and save some time.

Lighting a charcoal grill isn’t something particularly difficult as long as you know how to do it.

The methods below work great regardless of what type of charcoal you want to use, briquettes or lump charcoal ( check out comparison )

Remember to thoroughly clean the grill every time before you set the charcoal on fire, remove all the ash and grease ( see how to clean a charcoal grill guide ).

How to start a Charcoal Grill - 2 Ways


Method 1#  Charcoal Chimney Starter

This is the best way to start a charcoal grill, quick and simple. The greatest upside is that you only need paper to start the fire, preferably a newspaper. 

There are no chemicals here like with the lighter fluid.

How does it work? All you have to do is pour lump charcoal or briquettes into the chimney, then add some paper on the bottom ( newspapers are the best ) and set it alight.

The flames from the burning newspaper will quickly get your charcoal burning, it takes about 10-15 minutes.

The Briquettes or the Lump Charcoal will be ready once they get covered with a layer of ash.

weber charcoal chimney starter

The hot charcoal has to be moved to the lower grates of the grill – remember about protective bbq gloves!

See a step-by-step of How to Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter.

The main advantage of this method is the speed and the fact that the charcoal will be burning evenly.


Method 2# Lighter Fluid

Another proven and equally easy method of starting a charcoal grill.

Stack the charcoal in a shape of a pyramid or a cone. That way the fire will spread and you’ll get the charcoal burning faster.

Then pour the lighter fluid on the charcoal, wait for a moment ( up to one minute ) and set it ablaze in several places.

charcoal lighter fluid

Wait for about 15 minutes until the charcoal gets covered with ash. Then use a right tool to spread the charcoal over the entire surface of the grill.

Remember!  Never add lighter fluid to hot charcoal.


Final Words

These are the two simplest methods to lighting charcoal grill.

Of course I recommend the charcoal chimney starters. Why? Because that’s the easiest and fastest method. It allows to get the charcoal burning evenly and only requires paper to work.

Considering the price, it’s a very cheap solution.

shares