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How To Start A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid?

How To Start A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid?

For barbecue enthusiasts, one of the common challenges that come with grilling is lighting the grill. Grill lighting is the first step to cooking an epic meal. Here is how to start a charcoal grill without lighter fluid.

Several methods come in handy to assist in starting your charcoal grill without lighter fluid. They include;

  • The charcoal chimney method
  • Firelighter method
  • The looftlighter method
  • Paper kindling method
  • The use of electric charcoal starter

Lighting your charcoal grill should never give you a hard time since it is straightforward. If you have been experiencing challenges lighting your charcoal grill, read on for more information and insights.

star fire grill

Why Light A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

While most people find lighter fluids easy to use, they are not the best way to start a charcoal grill. One of the reasons for this is that lighter fluids tend to create a roaring fire, which might not be the best fire to cook most delicacies.

However, that is not the main reason to avoid lighter fluids. The primary reason to avoid lighter fluids is that they interfere with the flavor of the foods. Starting a charcoal grill using lighter fluids may leave an unpleasant smell on the food.

Lastly, by utilizing lighter fluids, you will have to keep buying them, and this might not be pretty favorable, especially if you are on a tight budget. Therefore, if possible, it is wise to avoid lighter fluids when lighting your charcoal grill.

Lighting Coals Without Lighter Fluid

If you have a charcoal grill, you may need to invest in a chimney starter. A chimney starter offers you an efficient and easy way of starting your charcoal grill without the lighter fluid odor that might interfere with the flavor of your food.

Notably, using a chimney starter is an easy task that anyone can comfortably handle without much struggle. Here is a step-by-step instruction on how to effectively use a chimney starter.

  • Take out the cooking grates from your grill.
  • Fill your chimney starter with charcoal. If you are not grilling a lot of food, you may not need to fill your chimney starter with charcoal.
  • Put the lighter cubes on the charcoal before lighting them.
  • Set the chimney starter on top of the lighter cubes on the coal grates. The fire from the lighter cubes will burn the charcoal, and the fire will develop. After 10-15 minutes, depending on the weather conditions, the charcoal should be ready to pour into the grill.
  • Pour the coals into the grill and ensure that you arrange them well.
  • After arranging the charcoal to your liking, the next step is to put the grate back into place and start your grilling.

Replacement For Lighter Fluid

Were it not for the smell that comes with lighter fluids, the utilization of lighter fluids should have been the most convenient and quickest method to getting your coals ready on the grill. Interestingly, there are convenient and safe replacements for lighter fluids that you probably didn’t know about their existence.

Vegetable Oil

Did you know you can use vegetable oil to replace fluid lighters for your charcoal grill? It is the best replacement for lighter fluid because it does not leave unpleasant smells behind. However, to effectively use this replacement, you will need paper.

All you need is to soak about five sheets of paper in vegetable oil and pile them in the bottom center of the grill. The paper will start a fire, and it won’t take long before your coals start dancing in your grill. You can use bacon fat to infuse extra flavor into your food.


One of the characteristics of alcohol that many people seem not to know is that it is highly flammable. It is this trait that makes it ideal for starting a charcoal grill. Either vodka or whisky can make a perfect replacement for lighter fluids.

However, it is good to acknowledge the fact that the use of alcohol is quite costly since it evaporates fast. Additionally, it would help to be cautious to avoid flare-ups when using this method.

The Sugar

Sugar is also an excellent replacement for fluid lighters. It contains glucose, whose primary components are carbon and hydrogen, which is all you need to start your charcoal grill quickly. You need to spread sugar well on the charcoal and light your sugar-coated charcoal with the help of paper. It would be great to be careful because your BBQ might ignite fast.

How To Start A BBQ Without Lighter Fluid

The replacement for lighter fluids may prove helpful in making your charcoal grill lighting fast and efficient. However, there are some instances where you might need to try other ways. Here are some safe and effective methods you can embrace when it comes to lighting your charcoal grill.

The Fire Lighter Method

The fire lighter or fire starter method is preferable for lighting charcoal grills for many barbecue bosses. To effectively use this method, you may need paraffin wax, wax-coated wood shavings, or compressed cardboard to ignite the charcoal. Interestingly, if you have a chimney starter, they can prove helpful. Most people love fire-starters because they are inexpensive, weatherproof, and take a short time to light.

The Looftlighter Method

Another method of how to start a BBQ without lighter fluid is the utilization of the looftlighter method. The looftlighter method entails combining a heater and blower to direct hot hair to the charcoal, leading to the charcoal’s lighting within a short period.

The use of the looftlight method is widespread among many BBQ bosses because it has no chemicals and is one of the fastest methods to light your charcoal. On the flip side, it is one of the most expensive methods and requires electricity. In other words, if you are camping and do not have electricity access, it will not be the best option for you.

The Electric Charcoal Starter

The electric charcoal starter is another great way that allows you to start your charcoal grill without infusing chemicals into it. The electric starter is simple in design, making it easy to use. Although it might be as fast or attractive as the looftlighter, it will get your grill lit without putting you through a lot of unnecessary stress. The disadvantage of this method is that it requires electricity; hence not the best for camping enthusiasts.

grill on fire

Using A Newspaper

The use of a newspaper is a common method for lighting a charcoal grill for many people around the globe. It is one of the oldest ways of lighting charcoal grills and is still effective and cost-friendly. To effectively use this method, you must clear all the ash from the last grilling. Crumble about five pages of newspapers and build a pile in the middle of the charcoal. Light the papers and add more charcoal as the fire builds up. This method might be challenging if you are not used to it.

Final Word

While lighting your charcoal grill is the first step to preparing epic meals, getting it right is key to making the entire process flawless. Imagine spending much of your precious time trying to get your grill ready? That will likely disorient you, so you must be cautious when lighting your grill.

We recommend the use of chimney starters as the best way to light your charcoal grill. Despite being pretty effective, the chimney starters are pocket-friendly and do not introduce chemicals to your grill. Further, they are ideal for people who love camping because they are easy to transport.