How to Start a Charcoal Grill

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Learn how to start your charcoal grill and which tools make it easier. Let Lou Manfredini walk you through the safest and most effective ways to light your grill.

Electric Starter

The electric starter may be considered the 'old school' way, but it is still very effective.
  1. Take your unplugged electric lighter and sandwich it in between your coals
  2. Cover the electric coil completely
  3. Plug it in
  4. Leave the electric starter in the coals until they are heated up
    • This method takes 8-10 minutes
  5. Then, unplug and remove the electric starter from the coals

Chimney Starter

The chimney starter is an easy way to ignite your coals quickly.
  1. Take a bundle of bunched up news paper or fire starter cubes and place them in the bottom of the chimney
  2. Add charcoal through the top of the chimney
  3. Light fire starter through the bottom slots of the chimney and let the coals heat up
    • This method takes 8-10 minutes
  4. Grab handle with heat resistant glove and dump coal onto the grill, then remove the chimney starter from the grill

 Lighter Fluid

This is the old-school way of lighting charcoal. When using lighter fluid, be sure to be extra cautious when working with others around you. You can use lump charcoal which lights easily, holds heat longer, and contains no fillers. If using pre-soaked charcoal, note, you can use this charcoal for all methods EXCEPT in a chimney starter.
  1. Stack charcoal in a pyramid
  2.  Squeeze lighter fluid onto the coals, just until the coals look glossy
  3. Immediately light coals - do not allow time for coals to soak up lighter fluid
  4. Allow coal to get white hot to ensure all fluid has burnt off
    • Do this before cooking, to avoid an odd taste in your food
  5. Once they are white and ashy, spread the charcoal lumps out from the pyramid, close the grill and allow it to pre heat for another 20 minutes or so.

Heating Up

  1. Let a nice white ash cover the coals
  2. Spread out the coals around the grill
  3. Place top on grill and allow to pre-heat for 20 minutes
  4. It is time to grill

Cooling Down

  1. Close bottom vents
  2. Place top on
  3. Allow to cool down for at least an hour
Always follow manufactures instructions and recommendations from the label or manual of any product you use. For more helpful tips and advice, visit your Neighborhood Ace Published: 1/8/2020