How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid

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Last updatedLast updated: August 03, 2021
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The grilling season is fast approaching, and you’d want to have a lovely time with your friends and family. So, you’re getting together your ingredients, charcoal grill, charcoal starter and other gear.

Maybe this time you want to try out new methods like lighting your charcoal without lighter fluid, and you’re wondering if it is possible?

Of course, it is. And you should try it out.

Remember, there are some embarrassments that come with using lighter fluids to spark your charcoal. And in case you don’t know, its smell is awful and leaves a nasty chemical taste. It can ruin your food’s taste and, even worse, the chemicals can cause food poisoning.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can light your charcoal without using lighter fluid, and in this guide, we will discuss them all.

Why is it a bad idea to light a charcoal grill with lighter fluid?

How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid

There are several cons of using lighter fluid.

First, it is flammable. It can flare up, and the fire can get out of hand sometimes, and you may have to use a fire extinguisher to put it out.

It’s costly compared to several alternatives you can use to light up your grill quickly.

Like we mentioned earlier, lighter fluids have a chemical smell behind which alters your food’s taste. Your visitors and friends may end up not enjoying your meals as you expected.

If they ingest the toxic chemicals in large amounts, they might get stomach upsets due to ingesting hydrocarbons that don’t break down fast.

We also feel that lighter fluids are not eco-friendly. They’re made up of toxic chemical compounds like alcohol and mineral spirits. Trusted Source Charcoal lighter fluid - Wikipedia Charcoal lighter fluid is a flammable fluid used to accelerate the ignition of charcoal in a barbecue grill. It can either be petroleum based (e.g., mineral spirits) or alcohol based (usually methanol or ethanol). It can be used both with lump charcoal and briquettes. Lighter-fluid infused briquettes, that eliminate the need for separate application of lighter fluid, are available. The use of lighter fluid is somewhat controversial as the substance is combustible, harmful or fatal if swallowed, and may impart an unpleasant flavor to food cooked upon fires lit with it. en.wikipedia.org

How to start a charcoal grill without lighter fluid

You’ve seen the effects of using lighter fluid to light your charcoal, so now you want the alternatives.

Well, there are several ways to start a charcoal grill without using lighter fluid. And they’re much easier than they seem.

However, if you’re a complete beginner, you should prepare to invest time to master some techniques as you go.

It’s also worth experimenting with how the different methods work to get the right you’ll use over the long-term. Experts add that some methods are simple, but you may have to invest in a good charcoal grill and extra accessories to streamline the processes. And they recommend the Char-Griller 2137 due to its cast iron grates that provide even heat transmission.

So, in this section, we will look at the common methods like how to start a charcoal grill with a chimney starter, electric charcoal starter, and a Firestarter briquette, among others.

With a chimney starter

A chimney starter is a popular fluid-free method of lighting charcoal.

It’s simple and the materials you’ll need include newspaper rings, and firelighters like paraffin, tumbleweed etc.

This method relies on a simple mechanism provided your grill is well-ventilated. The papers spark the charcoal, as the heat rises and introduces oxygen for the charcoal to burn well.

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 you’ll 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, it’s expensive in the long-run.

With an electric charcoal starter

Electric starters are a good substitute for fluid lighters.

They have a handle on one end and a heating element on the other meaning you won’t have to invest in extra accessories like papers, lighters etc.

The main thing you’ll need here is a power supply which can increase your electricity bills.

You’ll be able to light up your charcoal in ten minutes or less.

Overall, electric starters are not expensive.

So, here are the steps:

  • Add your charcoal in the BBQ grill
  • Position your electric starter flat across your charcoal layers
  • Connect it to a power supply. You may have to use a cord if necessary.
  • Be sure to read through the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, you’ll leave the device connected for 10 to 15 minutes to see a red glow.
  • You can introduce air for the charcoal to burn properly.
  • After the charcoal burns well, remove the device carefully and place it somewhere out of children’s reach.

With the Looftlighter

A looftlighter is a compact gun engineered to light charcoal though it’s relatively more expensive than most heat guns in the market.

It uses zero gas, chemicals but superheated air. Experts say it comes with a long handle and a safety casing for lighting up your charcoal from a safe distance. This gun is designed for all kinds of smokers, fire pits and grills.

How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid

The flame offers up to 1250 degrees F that lights up your grill in a minute or less.

And unlike lighter fluids, looftlighters are eco-friendly as you’ll be relying on super-heated air. You won’t have to deal with CO2 emissions and other toxic gases.

Here are the steps for using this machine.

  • Assuming you’ve arranged your charcoal, connect your looftlighter to a power supply.
  • Point the gun’s tip at the charcoal’s base
  • The charcoal will start glowing up, so you can pull away from the gun from the charcoal
  • Leave the charcoal to self-ignite.

Overall, looftlighter is a versatile machine you can use both indoors and outdoors.

With Firestarter briquettes

Firestarters burn up well compared to lighter fluids.

You’ll find them in lots of places like your local hardware store.

The good thing with firestarters is they undergo full combustions, so little to no residue is left.

They’re easy to use, and here are the steps:

  • Remove your grate
  • Introduce charcoal
  • Open up all vents for good air circulation
  • Remember, for your charcoal to light, you should bury the Firestarter in the top coal layer.
  • With the ventilators open, light up the Firestarter and allow it to burn for 8 to 10 minutes.

With newspaper

How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid

This process is simple. You only need dry twigs and papers.

The only shortcoming is it can be time-consuming and messy.

Here are the steps:

  • Get up to 6 pieces of paper and roll them up to build a pile at grill’s center
  • Introduce a kindle to your paper. It can be a twig or a small piece of wood
  • Add charcoal and light up the newspaper
  • Spread the charcoal so that they light up evenly

Using charcoal infused with lighter fluid

If you don’t prefer using lighter fluid, you can use charcoal infused with fluid to get similar results.

The only difference here is you won’t have to add the fluid as it’s already in your charcoal. All you have to do is light it up and wait for several minutes to start making your meals.

Normally, though charcoal infused with fluids is efficient, it costs a lot more than the ordinary charcoal.

These charcoal light up well when monitored. If you leave them out for long, they risk drying up.

Final thoughts

We’ve walked you through how to light up your charcoal without using lighter fluid.

And you’ve seen how the methods are different.

If you’re avoiding lighter fluids as much as possible, go back to the list and pick the method that will work best for you.

You may master the process slowly, but everything will become smoother with time.

Some of the methods like looftlighters may be costly in terms of buying the guns and paying electricity bills, but the good thing is you’ll be cooking meals with zero chemicals.

References

1.
Charcoal lighter fluid - Wikipedia
Charcoal lighter fluid is a flammable fluid used to accelerate the ignition of charcoal in a barbecue grill. It can either be petroleum based (e.g., mineral spirits) or alcohol based (usually methanol or ethanol). It can be used both with lump charcoal and briquettes. Lighter-fluid infused briquettes, that eliminate the need for separate application of lighter fluid, are available. The use of lighter fluid is somewhat controversial as the substance is combustible, harmful or fatal if swallowed, and may impart an unpleasant flavor to food cooked upon fires lit with it.
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