Lighting Charcoal seems like a dark art, but there are three basic techniques that guarantee zero stress when you come to light your grill.
Firstly, here is a little background on different types of charcoal.
How to Light Charcoal Method 1
The most convenient form of charcoal comes in light-able paper bags. Place a couple in your BBQ rack and, in theory, you just get a good lighter and light up.
In practice, I’ve found these to be hit and miss and have ended up resorting to lighters or gel more than a few times over the years.
How to Light Charcoal Method 2 – The old Fashioned Way
If you have loose briquettes or lump-wood and need to light up the old fashioned way here’s how you do it:
Pile your fuel into a roughly conical pile and to get the fire going, try one of the following rounds the base of the pile:
- Rolled up sheets of newspaper
- Firelighters. Not too many, break them up – they contain kerosene which makes food taste vile if any are left when you start cooking.
- A fire lighting tool like this.
(A graphic illustration of when charcoal isn’t ready for cooking with(!), thanks to Cowbark via Flickr for the image)
Once there is a fire going, leave it for 20 minutes or more, but keep an eye out – don’t let it go out – it might need fanning a bit.
If it looks to be burning well after 5-10 minutes, give the coals a thorough stoking, heap it back into a pile and leave it again for 10 minutes or so.
By this time the flames should have died down – if not wait until they do, it won’t be very long. The coals should be coated in gently smoking white ash.
Now spread the coals evenly round about ¾ of the rack, leaving a space to move any food into that starts to overcook or burn.
You’re ready to cook when it looks like this:
How to Light Charcoal Method 3 – The Chimney Charcoal Starter Method
Another method for lighting charcoal – which is much more efficient – is to use a charcoal starter chimney. These gadgets are well worth considering and are an efficient and clean method for lighting charcoal.
I can’t say enough good things about this gadget.
Charcoal and various means of lighting are available on Amazon