Ok so you have dumped in your charcoal and you go to light the pile, but the charcoal just won’t keep the flame. I know how that goes, I used to hate using charcoal for just that reason. That is why I am writing this to help you. I have come up with a few great tips and steps on how to keep that fire going just long enough to get those charcoals on their way to cooking bliss. See how to start a charcoal grill and keep the fire going below!
Ok, the first thing you need to do is stack the charcoal. This is probably your most important step so make sure to do this. Dump your charcoal in the grill and start stacking. Make your stack as tight as possible and make sure all the charcoal is touching. This will help you keep a flame and get the charcoal to be ready in the most efficient manner.
The second thing you need to do is use some lighter fluid, you can be generous. Some people say they can taste it but I think that is just a myth. I cooked for a group of people one time and they watched me put the lighter fluid on and complained after I cooked that they could taste it. The next time I cooked for that group I told them I did not use lighter fluid (even though I did) and they said it tasted much better. I think it’s all in the mind. If your cooking for a group keep the fact that you use lighter fluid a secret.
Next, you want to make sure and have your match or lighting utensil ready. The fluid burns off quickly and loses its potency the longer you wait. Have your match in hand and throw it on immediately after pouring the fluid. This will help your fire burn longer.
Make sure to buy quality charcoal. If you buy the generic kind it’s much harder to start and for some reason, they make it much larger so it takes longer even once you do have it burning.
On a windy day here is a great tip for how to start a charcoal grill. If you have a lid for your BBQ, (which you should) grab a piece of wood or anything to wedge between your cooking surface and lid. You want to leave about 3-6 inches of space. This will be enough room to keep the fire going but also keep the wind out.
Once you get the grey edges on your charcoal open everything up. The more air that gets to your charcoals the faster they will be ready to cook. It’s kind of like using a bellow on a fire that’s about to go out. It stokes it up and makes the coals burn faster. The same goes for when your cooking, the more air you allow the hotter your coals will burn.
Ok this is the big secret, are you ready? You do not need the fire to burn for very long. There I said it. If your fire burns for about 5 minutes you should be good to go. As long as most of your coals have grey around the edges they will eventually become entirely grey without any flames. After your charcoal achieves the grey around the edges avoid dumping anymore lighter fluid on. This could actually dampen the part you have already started and you would be starting over.
There you go, now get your meat and veggies on the grill and enjoy a delicious meal! I hope this helped you in your quest on how to start a charcoal grill and keep the fire going.