How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid or Chimney?

How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid or Chimney?
How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid or Chimney?

Most of people choose to light charcoal with lighter fluid.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, as it’s extremely easy, fast and efficient. When done properly, it’s also doesn’t affect the taste and overall is a great way to start a charcoal grill. But what if you don’t have a lighter fluid or if don’t want to use it? How to light charcoal without lighter fluid? 

What’s the best substitute for lighter fluid?

How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid?

There are several ways you can light charcoal without fluid.

It may require more patience or time, but it’s absolutely doable.

1. Chimney Starter

It’s one of the most popular alternatives to lighter fluid.

If you have never heard of it, it’s basically a metal tube with a grate, and a holder. You fill it with charcoal or charcoal briquettes, and place paper or lighter cubes under it.

As paper or lighter cubes are burning they ignites the charcoal at the bottom of the tube, the heat builds up and the rest of the charcoal ignites. Some time later you take the chimney by its handle, and dump the burning charcoal into the grill. The latter is the hardest part, as by this time the chimney starter is very hot. Apart from that, it’s an easy and effective way to start a charcoal grill.

How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid or Chimney?

What if you don’t have a chimney starter?

How to start a charcoal grill without a chimney?

2. Lighter Wood or Firewood

It’s usually resin saturated, and ignites very quick.

Alternatively you can opt for dry firewood or wood chips, and use paper or lighter cubes to start a fire. A 2-kg bag of firewood should be enough for a 2-kg bag of charcoal briquettes. As our experience shows, one such a pack of charcoal briquettes and firewood is enough for a 5-hour long grilling session. With My BBQ Table sets we pour the briquettes first, and then cover them with firewood. Start the fire from several places at the same time.

In around 30 minutes your grill is ready for cooking.

3. Fire Starters (And Paper or Dry Sticks)

It’s a well-known charcoal lighter fluid substitute.

There are all kind of fire starters.

The most popular ones and the simplest ones are lighter cubes. 

For the best and quickest result, you’ll also need some paper and / or wood. Speaking of the paper, what works the best are newspapers and cardboard egg crates. Instead of wood you can use wood chips or small and dry sticks. The key here is to build a fire that can keep on going long enough for at least some of the charcoal to be ignited. That’s the same with most other methods when you are lighting charcoal without lighter fluid.

Crumple up a few pieces of paper, and place it together with lighter cubes. Cover it with pieces of dry cardboard egg crates, if you have any. Next goes wood chips or sticks, and a few pieces of charcoal which will later ignite the rest. Start the fire and keep it going. When the charcoal starts smoking add some more charcoal. 

Keep it going until all of charcoal are mostly covered in white ash.

In total it may take around an hour.

My BBQ Table grill with grate taken off

My BBQ Table

4. Paper and Vegetable Oil / Cooking Oil

How to light charcoal with cooking oil?

It isn’t going to be a fast process, but it works — you can light a charcoal grill with cooking oil. First, make a bed of paper balls, and put some charcoal on it. Then sprinkle the charcoal with vegetable oil, and start the fire. Keep the fire going at least until the charcoal starts smoking, longer is better. Add more paper if necessary. 

Add some more charcoal once the first batch starts smoking. 

Keep it going until all of charcoal are covered in white ash.

5. Electric Charcoal Grill Fire Starter

Unlike the rest, this doesn’t necessarily take more time than lighter fluid.

Depending on the model of the fire starter, it can be the same as effective and fast, and also simpler way to start a charcoal grill, as all it requires is a single device. The way these things works is they use super heated air to ignite the charcoal. You keep it very close to the coal, pointing to one spot, and wait.

With Looft Lighter the waiting is only around a minute.

The Looft Lighter is super cool.

It’s one of the best best gifts for BBQ lovers you can buy online.

For more tips see our Charcoal Grilling 101.

Happy grilling!

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