Lighting Charcoal

Charcoal grills are easy to start if you know certain tricks. Here's how to light a charcoal grill for both direct and indirect cooking on your grill.

Charcoal Setup

Remember, before cooking you should remove the grill cover and rack and open all the vents.

For direct cooking: Use enough briquettes to cover the charcoal grate completely with one layer. Pile these briquettes into a pyramid in the center of the grate.

For indirect cooking: Grill size determines the number of briquettes needed. Here are our guidelines:

  • Grill diameter of 26 3/4 inches: 60 briquettes to start and 18 briquettes can be added for longer cooking
  • Grill diameter of 22 1/2 inches: 50 briquettes to start and 16 briquettes can be added for longer cooking
  • Grill diameter of 18 1/2 inches: 32 briquettes to start and 10 briquettes can be added for longer cooking

How to Light a Charcoal Grill

Never use gasoline or kerosene to start your coals.
  • To light coals, apply fire starter, use an electric starter, or place briquettes in a chimney starter. (If using a liquid starter, wait 1 minute before igniting the fire.) Never add more lighter fluid after the fire has started.
  • Let the fire burn 25 to 30 minutes or until the coals are covered with a light coating of gray ash before replacing the grill rack and cooking.

Lighting Charcoal with an Electric Starter

You can also use an electric starter to light coals.
  • To light coals with an electric starter, place the starter in the coals and heat for the manufacturer's suggested time. Unplug the starter and remove it from the coals. Place the starter on a heat-proof surface away from children and pets to avoid accidental burns.
  • Once the coals are lit, allow them to heat for 20 to 30 minutes or until they turn ash gray in daylight or glowing red at night.
  • Easy-lighting briquettes can be a real time-saver. They are pretreated with a lighting solution for a quick start and need to burn only 10 minutes before they are ready for grilling.

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