Using a charcoal grill can be a rewarding experience. However, lighting the charcoal briquettes and getting the grill started can be a difficult task.

For many people, grilling is a summer tradition. While some may choose the ease and simplicity of a gas grill, there are still those who prefer charcoal grills.

Before Grilling – Tools Needed to Start a Charcoal Grill

When grilling, the cook will need several items to start the grill:

  • A grill designed for use with charcoal
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter fluid (if desired.)
  • Matches, or a grill lighter.
  • Newspaper

How to Start a Charcoal Grill

Ideally, charcoal would ignite on its own with little help from the cook. Unfortunately, this does not happen and often leads to a lot of frustration concerning charcoal grills.

First, charcoal must be piled in the center of the grill. Many people suggest stacking the coals in a pyramid shape to help ignite the coals, whereas others say that simply dumping the coals into a pile works just as well.

If arranged in a pyramid shape, a piece of newspaper should be placed between every few layers. If arranged in a pile, the newspaper can be placed near the middle of the pile, beneath the coals.

After the cook is satisfied with the placement of the coals and newspaper, the newspaper should be lit. Ideally, the newspaper will catch the coals on fire and no further action will be needed.

Often, many combine newspaper with the use of lighter fluid. Once the newspaper is half engulfed in flames, squirting a small amount of lighter fluid onto the grill will engulf the coal briquettes in flames. Occasionally, it will take several squirts of lighter fluid to get the coals burning. Please follow the instructions on the can.

Other Methods for Starting a Charcoal Grill

Some people may find it difficult to start a charcoal grill, become frustrated, and give up completely. For those who prefer charcoal flavor but hate the difficulty of starting a charcoal grill, there are a variety of products available.

One such product is called a chimney starter, or charcoal starter. The charcoal starter is shaped like a hollow can with holes along the bottom half. Charcoal is placed into the upper half of the charcoal starter and newspaper (or other paper, though newspaper works best) is placed in the bottom. Once both sides are filled, the charcoal starter should be placed on a flat surface, preferably cement.

The newspaper should be lit using a match and will then start the charcoal. After approximately 15 to 30 minutes, the charcoal should be ready and can be carefully dumped into the grill for use.

Coals should be grey in appearance, with a red, smoking center. This means the coals are ready for cooking. If done properly, cooking on a coal grill can be a rewarding experience.