How to Start A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid?

20 minutes read

Starting a charcoal grill without lighter fluid is a great alternative method to avoid the chemicals and flavors imparted by lighter fluid. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Gather your supplies: Firstly, gather your supplies for starting the charcoal grill. You will need coals, a charcoal chimney starter, newspapers or other flammable materials, and long matches or a lighter.
  2. Prepare the charcoal chimney starter: Fill the charcoal chimney starter with the desired amount of charcoal. Avoid overfilling it, as proper airflow is necessary for efficient ignition.
  3. Place the starter on the grill grates: Position the filled chimney starter on the grill grates and ensure it is stable and won't tip over.
  4. Use newspapers for kindling: Roll up a few sheets of newspaper tightly and stuff them into the bottom of the chimney starter. Alternatively, you can use other flammable materials such as dry leaves or twigs.
  5. Light the newspaper: Use long matches or a long lighter to reach the newspapers from the bottom vents of the chimney starter. Ignite the newspapers and let the flames catch.
  6. Wait for the coals: Allow the coals to heat up and burn. This process usually takes around 15-20 minutes. Avoid moving the chimney starter during this time to ensure the coals ignite evenly.
  7. Check the coals: Once the coals have developed an ashen gray appearance with a red glow, they are ready to be placed in the grill.
  8. Transfer the coals to the grill: Using heat-resistant gloves or tongs, carefully pour the hot coals from the chimney starter onto the charcoal grate of your grill.
  9. Spread the coals: Use a grill tool or tongs to spread the coals evenly across the grill grates. Arrange them based on your grilling needs, such as creating direct or indirect heat zones.
  10. Let them settle: Allow the coals to cool down slightly and stabilize for a few minutes before placing your food on the grill.


Remember, safety is essential when starting a charcoal grill. Always follow proper precautions and handle hot materials with care to prevent any accidents or injuries.

Best Charcoal Grills of April 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.


Can I use a charcoal grill chimney to start my grill even if I have lighter fluid?

Yes, you can use a charcoal grill chimney to start your grill even if you have lighter fluid. In fact, using a chimney starter with charcoal can be an efficient and convenient way to start your grill without relying solely on lighter fluid. Using a chimney starter involves placing charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal inside the chimney, lighting a newspaper or fire starter underneath, and allowing the flames to ignite the charcoal. Once the charcoal is lit and has ashed over, you can pour it into your grill, creating a hot and even heat source for cooking. This method is preferred by many grill enthusiasts as it avoids the use of lighter fluid, which can sometimes leave an unpleasant taste or smell on the food.


What should I do if the charcoal doesn't catch fire using alternative lighting methods?

If charcoal is not catching fire using alternative lighting methods, here are some steps you can follow to troubleshoot the situation:

  1. Check the type of charcoal: Ensure that you are using charcoal specifically designed for grilling or barbecuing. Some types of charcoal, like briquettes, can contain additives that make them harder to light.
  2. Ensure the charcoal is dry: Make sure that the charcoal is completely dry before attempting to light it. Moisture can prevent it from catching fire. If the charcoal has been stored in a damp area, consider placing it in a dry and well-ventilated spot for a few days to ensure it's completely dry.
  3. Arrange the charcoal properly: Properly arrange the charcoal in a pyramid or mound shape to allow optimal airflow. This will help the fire spread evenly and promote better combustion.
  4. Use a chimney starter: Consider using a chimney starter, a device specifically designed to ignite charcoal. Fill the chimney with charcoal, place crumpled newspaper or fire starters in the bottom, and light the paper. This method creates a strong, centralized fire that quickly spreads to the charcoal.
  5. Try lighter fluid responsibly: If the charcoal still doesn't light, you may choose to use lighter fluid as a last resort. Please exercise extreme caution if using lighter fluid: follow the manufacturer's instructions, apply it sparingly, and let the fluid soak into the charcoal for a few minutes before attempting to light it. Keep in mind that lighter fluid can generate strong flames and should be handled with care.
  6. Consider alternative fire starters: If you prefer to avoid lighter fluid, alternative fire starters like paraffin starter cubes, electric charcoal starters, or natural fire starters made from sawdust or wood chips can help ignite the charcoal. Follow the instructions provided by the specific fire starter you are using.
  7. Use an additional heat source: In extreme cases, if the charcoal still doesn't catch fire, you may consider using an additional heat source like a blowtorch or butane torch to provide direct flames to the charcoal. Ensure safety precautions are followed while using these tools.


Remember, while trying these methods, always prioritize safety, and do not use highly flammable substances or methods that can potentially cause harm.


Are there any specific tips or tricks for starting a charcoal grill without lighter fluid?

Yes, there are several tips and tricks for starting a charcoal grill without lighter fluid. Here are a few methods you can try:

  1. Use a charcoal chimney starter: This is a popular and effective method. Fill the chimney starter with charcoal, place newspaper or fire starters in the bottom, and light them. The fire will ignite the charcoal from the bottom, and in about 10-15 minutes, the coals will be ready. Pour them into the grill and you're good to go.
  2. Use a natural fire starter: Instead of lighter fluid, use natural fire starters like paraffin cubes, waxed cardboard, or twisted newspaper knots. Place them underneath the charcoal and light them. As they burn, they will ignite the charcoal.
  3. Create a charcoal pyramid: Arrange the charcoal in a pyramid shape with a hole in the center. This allows airflow and maximizes heat distribution. Place crumpled newspaper or fire starters in the hole and light them. The fire will gradually spread to the charcoal.
  4. Use an electric starter: An electric starter, also known as an electric charcoal starter, can be inserted directly into the charcoal. It heats up and ignites the coals within a few minutes. It's a convenient and safe method.


Remember to always follow safety precautions while lighting your grill and handling hot coals.


Is it possible to start a charcoal grill using only natural materials found in nature?

Yes, it is possible to start a charcoal grill using only natural materials found in nature. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do so:

  1. Collect dry leaves, dead grass, small twigs, and other easily ignitable natural materials from your surroundings.
  2. Create a nest or a small pile using these materials in the center of your grill's charcoal area. Make sure to leave some space for airflow.
  3. Collect small sticks or larger twigs to generate heat and maintain the fire.
  4. Look for larger branches or logs to be used as fuel once the fire is established.
  5. If available, you can also gather some birch bark or dry moss, which are excellent fire starters due to their flammability.
  6. If you have access to natural tinder like dry cotton-like fibers from milkweed or cattail plants, gather some of it as it can help ignite the fire.
  7. Make sure your grill's vents or airflow holes are open to allow oxygen circulation.
  8. Use a fire striker, flint, or matches to ignite the dry leaves and grass in the center of the nest. You may also use a magnifying glass to focus sunlight and start a fire.
  9. Gradually add small twigs and sticks to build up the fire, allowing it to gain strength and heat.
  10. Once the fire is well-established, add larger branches or logs as fuel to produce a good amount of charcoal for cooking.
  11. Allow the wood to burn entirely until it turns into charcoal.
  12. Once the wood has turned into charcoal, spread it out in an even layer across the grill.
  13. Let the charcoal burn until it reaches the desired temperature for grilling.
  14. Once the coals are ready, you can start cooking on your charcoal grill.


Remember, when handling fire or starting a grill, always prioritize safety and make sure to follow any local regulations or guidelines regarding open fires.

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