How to Light a Charcoal Grill without Lighter Fluid or Chimney – 6 Best & Effective Methods

Do you want to know how to light a charcoal grill without lighter fluid or chimney? Then, spend only three minutes to know the six best and effective methods to light a charcoal grill without using lighter fluid or chimney. 

Do you love the smoky flavor and taste of grilling on charcoal? But what will happen if a chemical flavor destroys the whole smoky taste of your food? So are you looking for solutions to get rid of these problems?

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Most people do not like the chemical flavor caused by lighter fluids. Not only that, light fluids are very dangerous and harmful to use. 

On the other hand, their alternatives are more environmentally friendly and inexpensive. These methods definitely save your time and make your food even more delicious. 

No lighter fluid, no chimney, no hassle! Let’s start.

6 Best & Effective Methods on How to Light a Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid or Chimney

There are many options available to light a charcoal grill, But I will share the best four effective and most accessible methods for barbeque lovers. 

We are highly discouraged from using lighter fluid or chimney to light a grill because they are harmful to use and leave a bad taste.

When setting the fire without using a chimney or lighter fluid, we suggest the following six methods to get a quick output.

Light Your Charcoal Grill With Electric Starter 

Electri Charcoal Starter

An electric starter is a very convenient way of lighting a charcoal grill for barbeque, and it’s a quick process too. But you do need a power supply for this method.

Step -1: Pile your coal together in the grill. Keep them close together so the fire spreads from one coal to another. 

Step-2: Place the electric starter on top of the charcoal pile. Make sure the starter is placed horizontally and that it covers as much coal as possible. 

Step-3: Connect the power cord of the electric starter to a power outlet. You can use an extension cord if necessary.

Step-4: Wait for about 10 minutes, and your coal should turn ash grey in daylight and burn red in the nighttime. Then, the electric starter will get hot red and start spreading fire to the coals. 

Step-5: Unplug the electric starter and place it somewhere safe till it cools down. The coals are ready to be used for grilling in 10 minutes.  

Pros

  • It doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals
  • No other tools needed
  • Quick and easy charcoal lighting methods

Cons

  • The method requires a power supply source

Light Your Charcoal Grill With Looft Lighter

Looft lighter

Another popular option among BBQ lovers is a Looft Lighter. Follow the instructions below for lighting your charcoal with a Looft Lighter. 

Step -1: Clean your grill if there’s any residue from past use. Gather all charcoal as per your need and pile them up. Leave the bottom vent open until advised otherwise.

Step-2: Place the tip of your Looft Lighter on the place where you wish to ignite the charcoal. 

Press the power button on the Looft Lighter and wait till the charcoal lights cause smoke and fire. This only takes about 10 to 15 seconds. Turn off the Looft Lighter.

Step-3: Follow step-2 with few other areas. Try to start the fire from several places to spread the fire fast. 

Step-4: After you’ve ignited all the sections, use the Looft Lighter on the lit charcoals again. Re-spray for about 5 to 10 seconds per section. Hold your Looft Lighter about 6-inch away from the charcoal while doing this step.  

Step-5: Close the lid of your grill, keeping the upper vent open. Keep it closed for about 5 minutes before you start cooking. 

Pros

  • Easy and hassle-free process
  • It takes less time to light charcoal
  • No harmful chemicals

Cons

  • Requires a power outlet
  • Difficult to use in the dark

Another Great Way to Light Charcoal Grill Using Heat Gun

If you are a person who is always in a hurry, a heat gun might be a good idea for you. You can also use a heat gun for other purposes. It uses concentrated hot air to light up your charcoal.

Step-1: Gather the amount of charcoal you need and pile them on your grill. Point your heat gun to the area of charcoal you want to light up. Move the nozzle around. Don’t keep it faced towards the same coal for long. 

It only takes a few seconds to light up the charcoal with a heat gun. Repeat the same process with several areas, and the other charcoals should catch up the fire. 

Step-2: Take a few minutes to light up all the coals and give the coal time to burn enough to stay lit. And then you are good to go with your grilling. 

Pros

  • The heat gun requires less electricity than other options that require power
  • Easy to follow the process
  • It’s a fast and cheap procedure for lighting charcoal

Cons

  • The heat gun heats up a lot, so you have to be careful about not burning the coal too much

Using Paraffin Wax Also Works Better

Always paraffin wax has been used in variant firelighter applications. It comes in the store as a paraffin wax cube. 

But sometimes, it comes as a coating on wood chips. Also, paraffin wax is a great companion of charcoals. 

We refer to paraffin wax because it is non-toxic, environment friendly, and odorless. It takes less to fire up (10 – 12 minutes), and one of the important facts is that it does not leave ashes. 

So no more extra hassle! Now you must be thinking about how paraffin wax can fire up the charcoal. Scroll down. You will learn how it works! 

Step-1: There are many branded paraffin wax cubes available. These cubes need less time to fire up. 

However, to light up the charcoals, first, you need to gather the charcoals and put the paraffin wax cube under the charcoals.

Step-2: Now light the cube. This will require 10-20 minutes to light up based on your grilling temperature, wind condition, and charcoal amount. Once the flames start to come out, the charcoals are ready to fire up spontaneously.

Tips for this step –  

  • When you see charcoals are changing themselves into orange color, then do not wait for a few more minutes; otherwise, it will start to burn. 

Warning – 

  • It will take less time, so you have to be more concerned about the timing.

Light Your Charcoal With Propane Torch

Propane torches are easy to come by. You will often see that a propane torch is available where any of the other items are not. So it’s better to learn how to use that as an advantage. 

Step-1: Bring all the charcoals together in a pile on your grill. Keep a propane torch ready near at hand. 

Step-2: Light the propane torch towards an area of the charcoal pile. Hold it for about one minute. The coal should start to light up and turn orange. 

Step-3: Repeat the same process with a few other charcoals from different directions. Keep doing it till all coals are lit. Once all coals are lit, you should be able to start grilling. 

Pros

  • It doesn’t require much time to light up the charcoal
  • No electric outlet or power is necessary for this method
  • It doesn’t leave a nasty smell on your food

Cons

  • Maintaining a propane torch requires extensive work and expense

Light Your Charcoal With Newspaper

Now comes another budget-friendly method; it may sound old school but most effective to use. Most people use newspapers in their daily life, so it is easy to use. 

Before starting, you have to clean up the grill grates and ashes to get a consistent airflow. To light up with newspaper, you need to follow these steps mentioned below –

Step-1: First off, you have to crumple up 5 – 6 pages of newspapers and build a small pile. Now you need to put them in the middle of the grill as paper requires less time to light and helps the charcoal catch fire more rapidly.

Step-2: If you are struggling to create an intense flame, add some kindling (dry sticks) on the top of the paper. 

In case you do not have any dry sticks in your collection, then add more papers. Do not worry about the outcome! It will also give the same result!

Step-3: Now add more charcoals on the top of the paper and keep them near the center point. Then ignite the charcoals from different places. You can use hardwood charcoal as it can catch fire rapidly.

Step-4: You can add more paper balls if needed. A small-sized griller needs 20 -30 pieces, a medium-sized one needs around 40 pieces, and a large one requires 1-2 bags of charcoal. If you follow this method, you have to manage the papers according to it.

Tips for this step –

  • Spraying the newspaper with vegetable oil
  • Use dry sticks to spread up the fire

Warning –

  • Do not use wet sticks
  • Never use this method in wet weather

Mistakes You Should Avoid When Lighting Charcoal

Try avoiding the following mistakes while lighting charcoal to make your cooking experience smoother and keep the charcoal lit without any problems.

  • Not cleaning your grill before lighting the coals.
  • Not lighting the charcoals from different directions.
  • Not providing enough heat for the coals to light up.
  • Not giving the coals enough time to heat up before starting to cook.
  • Keeping the vents closed on your grill while the coals are burning up before cooking,
  • Keeping the lid open while the charcoal burns.

What Are The Other Safe Alternatives

There are few more safe alternatives to fire up the charcoal grill if you are not comfortable with our four described techniques.

Egg Carton: It is a very effective and safe option to spread the fire. You can easily use your egg cartons to light up the grill. 

To do this, first off, you need to remove or clear the lid of the egg carton. Then you have to put the briquettes on the egg carton and place them at the position of egg. 

Now the task is to place the carton in the cooking chamber. Then light all four sides of the carton. By doing this step, your task is almost done. As the carton box begins to burn, it will spontaneously ignite the rest of the coals slowly. 

Dry Twigs: Using dry twigs can be an amazing alternative to use. But you need some dry and small dry twigs for doing the stuff. 

Never pick the wet and green ones, as they are unable to burn easily. Before using dry twigs, it is better to check their dryness level. If it breaks quite easily that indicates this one is ready to use. 

Except these, wick chafing fuel, vegetable oil, paper towel are also used to fire up the grill.

My Favorite Way to Light Charcoal Grill

As an experiment-lover, I’ve given all of the above methods a try. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages. 

When I’m not using a chimney starter, I prefer using the good old newspaper method to light my charcoal. 

Even though it requires more effort to clean the grill afterward, I find this method most convincing. 

It doesn’t affect my food taste, and I can find paper anywhere I want. I even used the paper bag my coals came in to light the coals.

Lighter fluid is very much popular. But I can’t accept the fact that chemicals are being absorbed by the food I’m cooking with so much dedication. I grill outside a lot, so it’s difficult for me to maintain a propane torch too.  

Both the electric starter and Looft Lighter require electricity, which is not always convenient to use when I’m barbequing outside

As for the heat gun, I don’t feel comfortable using it. SO that leaves me with the most basic way of lighting charcoal, using newspapers.  

To be honest, a chimney starter is really the most convenient among all other options. It’s easy to use, quick to bring results, and doesn’t release any toxicity either.

Is Lighter Fluid or Chimney Bad for You

If we answer this question in a word is “Yes.” But you must be thinking about why it is not better to use a chimney or lighter fluid?

Any fire setup that starts with lighter fluid or chimney leaves a bad taste in your food. In addition, chimney starters have some issues. 

All the chimneys are not designed for regular use outside, so it is unsuitable for regular use. Along with that, they all come with an expensive price range and a little bit of hassle to use. 

If we talk about lighter fluid, they have hydrocarbons, and you cannot break them down simply. That’s why you need to ingest them closer to your food, which is really harmful. 

Some of them are very expensive. Not only that but these lighter fluids are also dangerous for the environment. 

Plus, it forms smog that harms the atmosphere that is threatening to individuals who have respiratory tract problems. 

So it is one of the primary reasons to avoid it. Besides, using a lighter fluid also harms your food and leaves a bad taste and odor in the mouth.

What Do You Do When Charcoal Doesn’t Stay Lit

Several reasons cause people to struggle to keep their charcoal lit. If you can identify why your charcoal isn’t staying lit, you can easily solve this problem. Watch for the following aspects when you can’t keep your charcoal lit.

  • See if your charcoal is dry or not. Wet charcoal won’t stay lit no matter how hard you try. If your charcoal is damp, change them. 
  • Don’t smother the coals. Make sure the charcoal gets enough air that’s compulsory for keeping the charcoal burning. 
  • Adequate airflow is the first condition for keeping the charcoal fire alive. You can use tools to provide air from the outside if the natural air isn’t enough.  
  • Stack your coals instead of laying them on a flat bottom. Coals are more likely to burn when they’re stacked together. They tend to spread the fire from one coal to another. If you keep your charcoals flat and separated from each other, some of them may not light. 
  • Some charcoals are hard to keep lit. Make sure you are using the right kind of charcoal. Choose the coals that are easy to light and easy to keep lit. 
  • Keep the vents open while giving time to light the charcoals. Most grills consist of two vents- one on top, another on the bottom. Keep them both open while burning your coal. 
  • Make sure you are using all precautions on a humid day. You can’t control the humidity, but you can certainly control your coal.

How Do You Know If The Charcoal Is Lit

If you are grilling in broad daylight, you can make sure your charcoal is lit when the color stays between grey and white. You will notice smoke and grey ash on the charcoal to ensure that your charcoal is lit. 

When grilling at night, it’s easier to identify lit charcoal. The coal turns smoking red to orange color range in the dark. It will cause smoke and spread lava-like color from the coal once it’s lit. 

Why Do You Need to Light Charcoal Grill

It’s better to keep your options open. You never know when you’ll need to go full DIY and light your bbq charcoal without a chimney starter. 

I was once invited to my friend’s place, and without any doubt, the barbequing responsibility was on my shoulder. 

As a cooking enthusiast, I like to keep all possible options at my disposal. But my friend didn’t own a chimney starter, so I had to do without one.

This was just one possible reason for lighting charcoal without a chimney. You can get into surprise situations like this where a chimney isn’t an option. 

Another reason could be that you are new to charcoal, so you are not familiar with a chimney starter. By the time you learn about a chimney starter, all of them get out of stock. Or simply they’re not available near you. 

You can also lose your chimney, and there’s a bbq event before you can buy a new one. Lastly, maybe you already gave the chimney starter a chance but didn’t like the procedure or didn’t feel comfortable using it.

All I’m saying is it’s better to keep your options open in case you ever need them. 

FAQ

  • Can you relight charcoal?

Yes, you can. It’s a good reason not to waste your charcoals if they’re solid enough for use again. You can save the charcoal that is still solid and use it for the next grilling. 

Most of the time, the charcoal burns the same as the first time, so I recommend saving the coal for reuse.  

  • Can I use tissue paper to light charcoal?

Yes. But tissue paper burns faster, and you will need a lot of tissue paper to light your charcoal. It’s better to use something thicker than tissue papers like newspapers or any other paper in general. 

  • Do you close the lid when lighting charcoal?

Keep the lid open when you are lighting the charcoal. Once they’re all lit, close the lid and let the charcoal burn. Keeping the lid closed helps the coal get ready for grilling faster and stays lit for longer. 

  • How do you keep a charcoal fire going?

Use dry charcoal, stack them instead of keeping them flat and separated, keep the vents open and use the right kind of charcoal. These should keep your charcoal fire going without any obstacle. 

  • Can I use vegetable oil to start a fire?

Yes, you can. In fact, vegetable oil is a very popular method when you are using paper to light your charcoal. It can keep your charcoal burning for longer than usual.

  • Can you use rubbing alcohol to light charcoal?

Yes, alcohol works as a lighting fluid for lighting charcoal. But make sure to let the alcohol burn before you start grilling. You can use alcohol to soak the paper and then use the paper to light the charcoal. 

  • Can you light charcoal with kerosene?

Kerosene is a strong fuel to light fire. But it leaves a weird smell on your food. So, I wouldn’t recommend you to use kerosene to light your charcoal. 

  • Can I use gas to light charcoal?

Gas doesn’t leave a much stronger smell on your food but is potentially dangerous. It’s better to use safer options for grilling. 

  • Can I use Ronsonol to light charcoal?

Ronsonol is a lighter fluid you can use to light charcoal cost-effectively. It’s a quick and easy way of lighting charcoal. But lighter fluids release harmful chemicals when used for lighting fire. So keep that in mind while using Ronsonol.

Conclusion

When you spend your money to buy a perfect charcoal grill, the right instruments, expensive meats, and steak, then why do you compromise with the taste? Isn’t it misfortunate? 

After reading the entire article, now you know how to light a charcoal grill without lighter fluid or chimney. We hope we will convince you not to use harmful lighter fluids. So, choose your preferable method and start to set up the fire. 

Be ready to host an awesome barbecue party!

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