How to Ignite A Charcoal Grill?

19 minutes read

To ignite a charcoal grill, you will need the following steps:

  1. Choose the right location: Place your charcoal grill in a well-ventilated area, away from any flammable materials, and on a stable surface. Ensure there are no low-hanging branches or other overhead obstructions.
  2. Gather your supplies: Collect the necessary supplies including charcoal briquettes, lighter fluid, long matches or a lighter, and a chimney starter if desired.
  3. Prepare the grill: Open the vents on the bottom and top of the grill to allow for proper air circulation. Remove the cooking grate and ash catcher, if applicable, to expose the charcoal grate underneath.
  4. Arrange the charcoal: Place the desired amount of charcoal briquettes on the charcoal grate in a pyramid or mound shape. The number of briquettes will depend on the size of your grill and cooking needs. It is recommended to use a charcoal chimney starter filled with briquettes if you have one, as it provides a safer and more efficient way to light the charcoal.
  5. Add lighter fluid: Using an appropriate amount of lighter fluid, drizzle it evenly over the charcoal. Be cautious as lighter fluid is highly flammable, and excessive use can result in a dangerous flare-up.
  6. Let the fluid soak: Allow the lighter fluid to soak into the charcoal briquettes for a few minutes. This will help the fluid penetrate the briquettes, making them easier to light.
  7. Light the charcoal: Using long matches or a long-reach lighter, carefully ignite the charcoal in several spots around the mound or pyramid. Avoid standing directly over the grill while doing so to prevent the risk of burns.
  8. Monitor and adjust: Keep an eye on the charcoal as it starts to burn. Once the flames have died down and the briquettes have turned grayish-white and ashy, they are ready for cooking. If needed, you can add more briquettes to increase the heat.
  9. Replace the cooking grate: Once the charcoal is properly ignited, place the cooking grate back onto the grill, ensuring it is securely in place.
  10. Start grilling: With the charcoal grill now ignited and prepared, you can begin cooking your desired food items over the hot coals.


Remember to always exercise caution when igniting and using a charcoal grill. Follow the manufacturer's instructions and keep a fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby for safety purposes.

Best Charcoal Grills of May 2024

1
Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker with Cover, 811 Square Inches, Black, Outdoor Camping

Rating is 5 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CC1830SC Charcoal Grill Offset Smoker with Cover, 811 Square Inches, Black, Outdoor Camping

  • 811 Square Inches: Includes 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq. in. chrome-plated warming rack and 184 sq. in. offset smoker.
  • Tasty Smoke Flavors: The offset smoker is firmly attached to grill to ensure good circulation of heat and smoke. Easy to open side door to add charcoal and remove ashes; air vent stokes fire instantly.
  • Adjustable Pan: 2-level height-adjustable charcoal pan creates better heat control and holds up to 4.4 lbs. of coal.
  • Temperature Monitor: Lid-mounted thermometer gauge helps check and monitor the cooking temperature and you can cook with great confidence.
  • Grill Cover Included: Made of heavy-duty fabric, the cover protects your grill from elements and withstands the harshest weather.
  • Ample Space: Front and side tables offer workspace for seasonings and grilling tools. The bottom shelf provides extra storage space and holds up to only 20 lb. accessories when they are evenly distributed.
2
Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

Rating is 4.9 out of 5

Weber Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

  • Stay true to the modern version of the kettle that started it all—the Original Kettle, invented by Weber’s founder, and loved around the world. Its ultra-durable, porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat, while the damperseasily adjust for precise temperature control. With a One-Touch cleaning system for easy cleanup after a long day of grilling, the Original Kettle will always be the grill built for everyone
  • Holds up to 13 burgers made with a Weber burger press
  • One-Touch cleaning system provides hassle-free ash cleanup.Removable, aluminum ash catcher
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl Retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
  • Use the lid hook to avoid placing the lid on the ground while grilling
  • Dampers allow you to easily control the temperature inside your grill
  • 3D interactive assembly instructions for this product are available through the free BILT app.
3
Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black

Rating is 4.8 out of 5

Char-Griller E1515 Patio Pro Charcoal Grill, Black

  • CHARCOAL GRILL - Barrel style BBQ Grill with heavy duty steel construction and powder coating finish, the perfect grilling solution for small decks, backyards, and patios
  • LARGE COOKING AREA - 250 square inch total cooking area delivers exceptional taste and charcoal flavor
  • BARBECUE GRILL FEATURES - Thick Cast Iron Cooking Grates, Bottom Storage Rack, Heavy-Duty Steel Construction, Side Air Vent, Stay Cool Wood Handle, Wheels for Easy Mobility, and Side Shelf Workstation with Barbecue Tool Storage Hooks
  • EASY TO ASSEMBLE & CLEAN - Assembles easily and quickly cleans up after use with the Easy Dump Ash Pan
4
Royal Gourmet CC1830 30 Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Table, 627 Square Inches, Outdoor Backyard, Patio and Parties, Black

Rating is 4.7 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CC1830 30 Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Table, 627 Square Inches, Outdoor Backyard, Patio and Parties, Black

  • 627 Smoking Space: 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates with 184 sq. in. chrome-plated steel wire warming rack offer enough space to cook.
  • Heat Control: Close the side air vent completely that cuts off the oxygen flow to help extinguish coals and adjust the smoke stack for extra heat control.
  • Adjustable Fire Grates: 2-level height-adjustable fire pan ensures more controlled cooking and holds up to 6 lbs. of coal.
  • Temperature Monitor: Lid-mounted thermometer gauge helps check heat fluctuations for confident grilling.
5
Royal Gourmet CD1824M 24-Inch Charcoal Grill, BBQ Smoker with Handle and Folding Table, Perfect for Outdoor Patio, Garden and Backyard Grilling, Black, Medium

Rating is 4.6 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CD1824M 24-Inch Charcoal Grill, BBQ Smoker with Handle and Folding Table, Perfect for Outdoor Patio, Garden and Backyard Grilling, Black, Medium

  • Spacious Cooking Area: 384 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates and 106 sq. in. stainless steel warming rack provide a total of 490 sq. in. cooking space respectively, serving up to 10 people.
  • Height-adjustable Charcoal Pan: The crank handle controls the distance between the charcoal pan and food for fine-tuning temperature and regulating heat. The charcoal pan holds charcoal up to 4.5 lb. for each use.
  • Convenient Access Door: Front charcoal access door with heat-resistant spring handle provides more convenience for adding charcoal and controls heat loss to a minimum during cooking.
  • Built-in Thermometer Gauge: The lid-mounted thermometer indicates the temperature changes precisely in real-time.
  • Air Flow: Two adjustable air vents control air circulation to enhance sufficient burning of charcoal for efficient smoking.
6
Royal Gourmet Barrel Charcoal Grill with Front Storage Basket, Backyard BBQ Party and Outdoor Cooking Grill on Clearance Prime with Wheels, Black, CC1830T

Rating is 4.5 out of 5

Royal Gourmet Barrel Charcoal Grill with Front Storage Basket, Backyard BBQ Party and Outdoor Cooking Grill on Clearance Prime with Wheels, Black, CC1830T

  • Additional Cooking Options: The charcoal grill can meet your versatile cooking demands by slow smoking or grilling ribs, veggies, lobster tails, or other preferred ingredients.
  • Ample Cooking Area: To accommodate 23 hamburgers at once, there are 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates and a 184 sq. in. chrome-plated steel wire warming rack as a secondary heating area.
  • Impressive Storage: Store seasonings in the front basket, hang some cooking utensils on the integrated hooks, place plates and other food on the side tables, and meanwhile put your charcoal on the bottom storage shelf.
  • Adjustable Charcoal Pan: Easily control the distance between food and fire with the lifting handle to regulate cooking temperature, which also saves fuel in the meantime.
  • Heat Control: Customize your desired temperature by twisting the air damper and smoke stack, thus getting the best cooking results.
7
Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black

Rating is 4.4 out of 5

Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill, 22-Inch, Black

  • Holds up to 13 burgers made with a Weber burger press; Built-in lid thermometer. Rust-resistant aluminum dampers
  • One-Touch cleaning system with high-capacity ash catcher provides hassle-free ash cleanup
  • Porcelain-enameled lid and bowl retain heat, and won’t rust or peel
  • Use the lid hook to avoid placing the lid on the ground while grilling
  • Cooking grate is hinged for easily adding charcoal while grilling
8
Royal Gourmet CC1830S 30" BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker | 811 Square Inch cooking surface, Outdoor for Camping | Black

Rating is 4.3 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CC1830S 30" BBQ Charcoal Grill and Offset Smoker | 811 Square Inch cooking surface, Outdoor for Camping | Black

  • 811 Square Inches: Includes 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq. in. chrome-plated warming rack and 184 sq. in. offset smoker.
  • Tasty Smoke Flavors: The offset smoker is firmly attached to grill to ensure good circulation of heat and smoke. Easy to open side door to add charcoal and remove ashes; air vent stokes fire instantly.
  • Adjustable Pan: 2-level height-adjustable charcoal pan creates better heat control and holds up to 4.4 lbs. of coal.
  • Temperature Monitor: Lid-mounted thermometer gauge helps check and monitor the cooking temperature and you can cook with great confidence.
9
Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D X-Large Premium Dual Chamber Charcoal Grill

Rating is 4.2 out of 5

Dyna-Glo DGN576SNC-D X-Large Premium Dual Chamber Charcoal Grill

  • Removable firebox divider for single or dual cooking zone
  • Primary cooking area is 576 square inches
  • Secondary cooking area is 240 square inches
10
Royal Gourmet CC1830W 30 Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Table, 627 Square Inches, Outdoor Backyard, Patio and Parties, Black

Rating is 4.1 out of 5

Royal Gourmet CC1830W 30 Barrel Charcoal Grill with Side Table, 627 Square Inches, Outdoor Backyard, Patio and Parties, Black

  • Spacious Cooking Area: Includes 443 sq. in. porcelain-enameled steel wire cooking grates, 184 sq. in. chrome-plated steel wire warming rack, and 184 sq. in. offset smoker.
  • Offset Smoker: Use the side fire box to get tasty and authentic smoky flavors in the main chamber. Smoking, grilling, or searing all will be your choices.
  • Adjustable Charcoal Pan: 2-level height-adjustable charcoal pan ensures better heat control and holds up to 4.4 lb. of coal.


How long should you let the charcoal burn before placing food on the grill?

The recommended time to let charcoal burn before placing food on the grill varies depending on the type of charcoal being used. Typically, it takes around 20-30 minutes for the charcoal to reach the optimal cooking temperature. During this time, the charcoal should be fully ignited and covered in a layer of grayish-white ash. This indicates that the coals are evenly heated and ready to cook food. It's important to note that different types of charcoal, weather conditions, and personal preferences can affect the duration, so it's best to monitor the charcoal closely and use a chimney starter or charcoal grill with adjustable vents to control the burning process.


Can you use a hairdryer or fan to assist in igniting charcoal?

Using a hairdryer or fan to assist in igniting charcoal is a common technique known as 'charcoal chimneys' or 'charcoal starters'. It involves increasing the airflow to the charcoal to facilitate a more rapid and efficient ignition process. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Prepare your charcoal: Arrange the charcoal in a pyramid or stack in your grill or charcoal chimney.
  2. Place the hairdryer/fan: Position your hairdryer or fan near the base of the charcoal.
  3. Turn it on: Start the hairdryer or fan and direct the airflow towards the base of the charcoal stack.
  4. Monitor the process: The increased airflow will help the charcoal heat up faster and ignite. You can visually observe the charcoal turning red and beginning to ash over. This usually takes around 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove the hairdryer/fan: Once the charcoal is fully ignited, carefully remove the hairdryer or fan and turn it off.
  6. Spread the charcoal: Using tongs or a suitable tool, carefully spread out the ignited charcoal evenly throughout your grill.


It's important to note that when using a hairdryer or fan, you should be cautious of sparks or embers that may be blown around. Ensure the safety of yourself and the surrounding areas by practicing caution and keeping flammable items away.


Can you use lighter fluid to start a charcoal grill?

Yes, lighter fluid can be used to start a charcoal grill. It is a common and convenient method for igniting the charcoal. Here's how to use it:

  1. Arrange the charcoal in a pile or pyramid shape in the center of the grill.
  2. Drizzle or squirt lighter fluid over the charcoal, saturating it evenly. Be cautious not to use too much, as excessive lighter fluid can create an unsafe flame.
  3. Allow the lighter fluid to soak into the charcoal for a few minutes, allowing it to penetrate.
  4. Using a long-handled lighter or a match, ignite the charcoal in several spots.
  5. Leave the grill uncovered and allow the flames to spread and the charcoal to turn ash-gray. This usually takes around 10-15 minutes.
  6. Once the flames have subsided and the charcoal is glowing and covered in a layer of ash, it is ready for cooking. Spread the charcoal evenly across the grill and start grilling!


How long does it usually take for charcoal to ignite?

The time it takes for charcoal to ignite can vary depending on various factors such as the type of charcoal, the lighting method, and environmental conditions. Generally, it can take around 10-20 minutes for charcoal to fully ignite and be ready for cooking. However, this can be shorter or longer depending on the specific circumstances.


Can you use newspaper to ignite charcoal?

Yes, newspaper can be used to ignite charcoal. One common method is to crumple up several sheets of newspaper and place them in the bottom of your charcoal grill or barbecue. Then, pile the charcoal on top of the newspaper and light it with a match or lighter. The newspaper acts as a fuel source and helps start the charcoal burning. However, it's important to note that this method works best with natural lump charcoal rather than briquettes, as briquettes may contain additional chemicals that can affect the burning properties of the newspaper. Additionally, make sure to remove any glossy or colored sections of the newspaper as they may release harmful fumes when burned.


Why does the charcoal need to turn white before cooking?

Charcoal needs to turn white or ash-gray before cooking for a few reasons:

  1. Heat distribution: White or gray charcoal indicates that it is fully lit and burning evenly. It provides a consistent, intense heat that ensures even cooking throughout the grilling surface.
  2. Reduced smoke and impurities: The white ash on charcoal indicates that most of the volatile compounds, such as smoke and impurities, have burned off. This helps to minimize unwanted flavors or chemicals that could affect the taste of the food.
  3. Safety: Fully lit white charcoal is safer to cook with than partially burned or black charcoal. It indicates that all the lighter fluid or other flammable materials used to ignite it have burned off, reducing the risk of flare-ups or sudden bursts of flames.


Overall, waiting until the charcoal turns white ensures optimal cooking conditions, even heat distribution, enhanced flavor, and safer grilling experience.

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