How To Light a Charcoal Grill

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Getting the fire going isn't the hard part. This is the basic method for lighting charcoal with lighter fluid. While generally the easiest and most common method there are better methods to lighting charcoal. Lighter fluid has gotten a bad reputation over the years, but not all lighter fluid is bad. 

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 20 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Make sure you have read your charcoal grills instructions and that you understand them.
  1. Thoroughly clean out the grill removing ash and grease.
  2. Determine how much charcoal you are going to need. A one layer for burgers and steaks or two layers for roasts and whole chickens.
  3. Pour enough charcoal into the grill to make the layers needed.
  4. Stack charcoal into a cone or pyramid shape.
  5. Pour lighter fluid over the charcoal cone, using more in the center than around the edges. Use about 1/4 cup to 1-pound charcoal.
  6. Let the fluid sit on the coals for about 30 seconds.
  7. With a long match light from the bottom on at least two sides.
  8. Let coals burn until all coals are white on the surface.
  9. With a long handled instrument, spread the coals evenly across the coal grate.
  10. Close lid, wait 5 minutes and start cooking.


  1. Cleaning the grill before each use reduces the bad smoke that can leave a bad taste on foods.
  2. Never add lighter fluid to burning coals. Even if there is no flame the heat will vaporize the lighter fluid and can cause a serious flame up the second the vapor encounters a flame.
  1. Charcoal should never be added to a gas grill.