Most people think that you cannot light charcoal without lighter fluid. However, the truth is most people don’t use lighter fluid because it is hazardous to our environment.
Furthermore, lighter fluid contains volatile components that play a role in the development of ground-level ozone.
In addition to this, lighter fluid can be toxic if it is swallowed, and it gives your food an unpleasant flavor. Luckily you don’t need lighter fluid to light charcoal.
Although grilling and smoking foods is an amazing process, fire can quickly spiral out of control if you do not pay attention.
Therefore, when using lighter fluid or any other volatile sources of fuel, you proceed with extreme caution.
In addition to this, do not add fuel if the fire is already lit. It could cause the flame to flare up into the container and explode.
The flame can flash up into the container and explode. Furthermore, do not lean over your propane smoker or portable pellet grill when using flammable liquids.
Whether you are using lighter fluid or not, it’s important to be cautious when grilling.
How To Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid
There are 5 ways you can light charcoal. However, some of these lighting methods need special tools while others do not.
I’d recommend giving each charcoal lighting method a try before deciding which one is your go-to.
Fire Lighter/Fire Starter
Firelighters or firestarters are the best way to light kamado grills. They use paraffin wax, packed cardboard, or wax-coated wood shavings to light the charcoal.
In addition to this, you can also use a firelighter or firestarter to light your chimney charcoal since they will not need ash as newspapers do.
Paraffin wax is not toxic and will not leave any odors or residue. To light your grill with a firestarter or lighter, place it beneath the charcoal chimney or arrange it directly on top of a heap of charcoal.
Next, all that’s left is lighting the firestarter or firelighter.
Looftlighters are a heater and blower hybrid that conducts extremely hot air towards the charcoal and ignites it within seconds.
Yes, your charcoal will be lit within minutes. Therefore, we should praise whoever invented this magical device.
Simply plug in your looftlighter and place the tip of the looftlighter on the bottom of the charcoal pile. Push the button.
As soon as you notice glowing charcoal or sparks, pull the looftlighter so that it is 1-inch away from the charcoal but still aimed at the same spot.
After 60 seconds, the charcoal should have generated enough heat to continue burning. Turn off the looftlighter and grill up some Tomahawk steaks.
The Charcoal Chimney
The charcoal chimney method is the preferred way to light charcoal. A charcoal chimney starter is a cylindrical metal tube designed to house lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes.
The chimney starter holds the charcoal in place while you light them from the bottom of your hibachi grill.
The heat will rise up through the chimney starter while more air is being pulled into the bottom of the starter.
As the coals are ignited, it causes a domino effect happens, and the remaining coals will be lit.
Charcoal chimney starters are clean, cheap, and effective.
It is also quicker to use a chimney starter instead of lighting the charcoal in the bottom of your grill.
You can buy a charcoal chimney starter from most stores that carry grills. They are relatively inexpensive and worth it if you plan to use your natural gas grill a lot.
To light charcoal with a chimney, place 2 sheets of balled-up newspaper into the bottom of the chimney.
Add the charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal to the bottom of the chimney on top of the newspaper.
Make sure you fill the chimney starter up to the top to ensure your grill generates the maximum heat.
Set the charcoal chimney starter on the bottom of the grill and light the newspaper.
Once the coals at the top of the chimney starter begin to ash over, they are ready.
Gently dump the charcoals into the bottom of the grill and spread them into an even layer.
Essentially, the paper kindling method calls for building an actual fire to light your grill. It is the most labor-intensive way to light charcoal.
Furthermore, the paper kindling method is not always dependable.
Simply create a base for the fire by arranging a layer of charcoal or briquettes.
Ball-up 2-4 sheets of newspaper and place them in the center of the charcoal or briquettes. Place thin, dry sticks in a crisscross design on top of the newspaper and press it to make an even surface.
Add another set of charcoal on top and light the newspaper. Once some of the coals have been ignited and begin to glaze over, add some more charcoals to build up the fire.
Electric Charcoal Starter
Electric charcoal starters are one of the best chemical-free ways to light your grill or smoker.
Electric charcoal starters are like electric stove burners. However, the heating instrument is curved into the shape of a U and has a handle.
Nevertheless, electric starters are not as fast as looftlighters. In addition to this, electric starters take longer than chimney starters to create a large fire.
To use your electric chimney starter, place the heating instrument into the base of your grill. Leave the handle of the electric starter sticking out.
Add a pile of charcoal on top of the electric starter and plug it in. Once the charcoal begins to glow, unplug the electric starter and remove it.
It is best to keep your Denver steaks away from volatile harmful chemicals.
There’s no need to light your charcoal with lighter fluid when they are so many other methods you can use.
Electric starters are clean and efficient, but you need a power source.
On the other hand, charcoal chimney starters are clean and efficient and do not need a power source, for they are perfect for grilling on the go.
Either way, you should always be careful when lighting charcoal.
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.