How To Start Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Starting Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Initiating a Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid: Have you ever found yourself without lighter fluid, or perhaps you’re wary of using it due to the unpredictable and sometimes unruly nature of lighter fluid fires? Learning alternative methods to light your charcoal grill can prove to be a handy skill.

While it’s fun to see those giant flames spring up, they’re tough to manage — lighter fluid is a major contributor to grilling-related accidents each year, and you shouldn’t overlook it.

Step One To Start Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

You Should Clean Vents

If you ignore this step, it won’t operate correctly since you’ll reduce airflow and limit the amount of oxygen available to the charcoal, which is critical for the burning process: open up the bottom vents and clean everything well.

After you’ve cleaned up and emptied everything, leave your vents completely open before continuing to ensure regular circulation.

Step Two To Start Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Paper Should Be Crumpled

Make four or five crumpled newspaper balls, then lay them in a mound in the center of the charcoal grate — use more if your grill is larger, but allow room on top.

To delay the burning process, soak half of each sheet in vegetable, canola, or olive oil before crumpling it up – this may also help extend the life of your fire in general!

Step Three To Start Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid


Collect some tiny, bone-dry sticks and nestle them on top of your crumpled paper; You may also fit them around the edges of your paper stack to make it look neater and enhance the surface area of your fire.

It’s critical to use DRY sticks since anything that doesn’t snap in your hands will suffocate the flames and cause it to die out – Make sure you have several spares available if the grill has to be refueled in the middle of the cooking process.

If you can’t locate any appropriate sticks, you can make do with additional paper, but you’ll probably need to keep restocking before the charcoal briquettes catch, so have a stash of crumpled newspaper balls on hand.

Step Four To Start Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Time For Charcoal

Start with three or four pieces of charcoal, since these will start the fire for the rest of the pile – place them in the center of the pile, sitting on top of the dry sticks, but not completely blocking the paper beneath.

Light your paper on fire in various spots across the grill using a match, fire starter, or long lighter until a huge, brilliant fire is crackling away – perhaps, the kindling will begin to catch at this time as well.

If the paper is burning, but the sticks haven’t yet started to burn properly, add one or two additional loose newspaper balls near them and fire them up as well.

Step 5 To Start Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Keep An Eye Out For Smoke Signals

Smoke is a terrific indicator that your fire is nearly there, as is ash beginning to accumulate on your charcoal briquettes, alerting you to the beginnings of a burn on your briquettes. 

The slower, the better, so keep an eye on it and keep stoking your newspaper. Also kindling flames until you see the ash on the charcoal or plumes of smoke rising.

Step Six To Start Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Increase The Amount Of Charcoal Gradually

Start adding more charcoal briquettes one by one once the first few have successfully smoked. You don’t want enormous orange flames at this time, just gray/white ash to signify a continuous burn.

Continue to build up your briquette pile in the middle, with the only ‘hot’ bits being those on the inside; if everything is operating properly, smoke should rise from the center of your pile.

Step Seven To Start Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Distribute The Coals, Then Start Cooking

The bulk of your coals should be coated in that familiar white/gray ash at this time, with the inside of your pile aglow and orange-red with heat. This is indicating that you’re ready to cook.

Reposition your charcoal around the grill, spreading it out evenly and adding a few more pieces if the fire starts to fade.

For this, utilize HEAT-RESISTANT tongs with the longest feasible handle, and proceed with extreme caution.

To provide a vigorous, long-lasting burn, the coals should be tightly packed. But not so tightly that there is no ventilation. This conserves heat and keeps everything burning.

Top off your coals regularly, and don’t wait until everything is practically burnt away to do so. Otherwise, your meat will be chilly, and your tummy will be grumbling! Fill up your briquettes if you see half of them are gone.

Although you’ll have to wait for the telltale ash to form before continuing to cook, you won’t have to start from scratch, and this approach ensures an even, complete cook for your meat.

Estimates Of How Much Charcoal You’ll Need In General

  • Small grills with twenty to thirty pieces should be enough.
  • Medium grills, which are the most prevalent, will work best with up to forty pounds of meat.

A successful burn on a commercial grill can take up to two full bags of charcoal, which will take much too long if you use the newspaper approach!


I hope you found my instructions about lighting a charcoal barbecue without lighter fluid useful. Grilling is one of the greatest methods to prepare summer staples, whether you prefer the taste of roasted vegetables or the seared flavor of the steak. It’s a must-have summer skill to know how to utilize a charcoal barbecue. Charcoal grills are undoubtedly the best method to obtain that traditional “grilled” flavor. But  you’re probably wondering how to start a charcoal grill if you’ve never used one before.

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