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How To Start A Grill Without Lighter Fluid: 7 Best Helpful Methods

Get ready to grill: how to start a grill without lighter fluid

Summer is getting closer, which means it’s time to fire up and enjoy some outdoor grilling. But before you can enjoy your tasty treats, you need to know how to light the fire without the use of lighter fluid.

Fear not, with a few simple steps, you’ll be on your way to grilling perfection in no time! In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of lighting a fire without lighter fluid so that you can enjoy your next BBQ without any hassle.

So grab your matches, and let’s get started!

how to start a grill without lighter fluid

Why you should not be using lighter fluid

Lighter fluid is great if you’re trying to create a roaring fire that lasts only a few seconds, but not for cooking. Grilling without lighter fluid is a great way to enjoy a flavorful, smoke-free cookout.

Lighter fluid is a flammable liquid that is used to help start a fire. It is usually made of chemicals that can be dangerous if not used properly.

That’s why it’s important to avoid using lighter fluid when starting a fire. Instead of using charcoal lighter fluid, it is possible to start a fire using other materials.

One way is to use a fire starter, such as newspaper, dry grass, or even birch bark. These materials will help the fire catch and create enough heat to sustain itself.

Additionally, you can use a chimney starter, which is a metal cylinder that helps to get the fire started quickly. Once the charcoal is hot enough, spread it out evenly and begin charcoal grilling your food.

The unpleasant flavor should be your number one reason to ditch lighter fluid. Starting the fire with match light charcoal, or adding too much lighter fluid can leave behind a rather unpleasant chemical taste and smell on your grilled food, especially if you’re using a lot of it – no one likes that.

What can I use if I don’t have lighter fluid for grilling?

We use five methods to light charcoal. They sometimes need special equipment, some don’t need any equipment whatsoever.

And we ordered them in order of their preferred lighting charcoal method, so we tried it several times.

This method will help you light much charcoal without lighter fluid and ready to cook within just a few minutes.

The charcoal chimney starter method

Most people prefer using a charcoal chimney as they work well, they’re clean, inexpensive, and also small.

A charcoal chimney is nothing but a metal tube holding a charcoal briquette at a level where the fire is ignited from underneath.

The heating comes out of the vent and the bottom of the chimney absorbs air. So, when coal lights, the flame becomes incredibly self-fanning – as though it was blown out all day – and gets lit and warm quickly.

To use a chimney method, follow these steps:

  • Fill the bottom of the chimney with the desired amount of charcoal.
  • Place the starter on your charcoal grill and light it with a long-handled lighter or matches.
  • Once the charcoal has burned for a few minutes, the top coals will start to turn white.
  • Once the charcoal is ready, spread it evenly over the bottom of the cooking chamber.
  • Preheat the grill by setting the lid on top and opening the vents.
  • Start cooking! Add the food to the grill and adjust the vents as necessary.
  • Monitor the temperature of the charcoal grill by checking the lid and vents.
  • Rotate the food throughout the cooking process to ensure even cooking.
  • Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food and make sure it has reached the desired temperature.

Firelighter or fire starter method

It seems to me as the cheapest way to get a Big Green Egg or Kamado grill. Firelights and starters burn charcoal with melted wax or vegetable oil and compressed cardboard or wood shavings. This can help to start an open chimney but does not cause any gray ash.

Paraffin wax is non-toxic and has no lingering scent or residue.

There is a wide range of brands available in cubes, strips, or bundled loosely into boxes and bags. It is also possible to build an ignition starter by hand.

Paper, kindling, charcoal method

Paper, kindling, and charcoal are labor-intensive and often less reliable methods to create fire. If one game is possible, you could earn a merit medal for the fire building.

  • Step 1: Set out charcoal.
  • Step 2: Put 2 – 4 sheets of paper in the center (you can try crumpled paper towels).
  • Step 3: Place dry, thin sticks on paper, crisscrossed. Press up for an even surface.
  • Step 4: Add charcoal to the top and light it up. The fire and heat from the paper ignite the bottom coals, then the fire builds up.
  • Step 5: Add more charcoal if it’s starting to rust or burn.

The Looftlighter method

The Looftlighter is a combination furnace and blower which carries high-temperature air to carefully light charcoal. 1200 °F superheated air lights your charcoal in seconds and fast-forwards the process, so you can start grilling in 5 minutes. The integrated stand also serves as a bottle-opening opener. Fire starts and the bottle opens using the same device. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Plug in the Looftlighter (if you have a battery-operated one, just turn it on).
  • Step 2: Point the lighter tip onto the pile, then press the button. Heated air will light your coal.
  • Step 3: Continue blowing on the pile until the coal starts burning.
  • Step 4: Allow the coals to burn for at least 10 minutes, or until ashes begin to form.
  • Step 5: Spread the hot coals in an even layer before you start cooking for the best cooking surface.

Hot air charcoal starter

Probably impossible to locate, this device is worth searching for. It ignites a fire in a cooking chamber, causing superheated air to circulate inside. You may have seen the product advertised as heat guns as well.

Place a charcoal pile at one end of a burner. Plug the starter. Once you click the start button, wait until the charcoal begins to emit smoke.

Occasionally, there may be an intensive ignition. Once that has occurred, pull off the starter, but do not remove it immediately. Keep directing hot air towards the coals for one minute, or until have the perfectly lit charcoals.

Electric starter

It’s essentially an electrical fuel burner for heating charcoal without adding chemicals. The starters are usually equipped with heating elements which are usually bent into loops. Electric starters are a convenient and energy-efficient way to start a fire.

Electric charcoal starter does require an electrical outlet to work, and they are not ideal for camping or tailgating. You should know that there are several types of electric starters on the market. Some are pretty basic while others are top-of-the-line but also come with a premium price tag.

You place the heating element down into the lump of charcoal and plug it in. Place the electric charcoal starter on top of the charcoal pile, with the burner contacting the coal.

Place the piece of briquette charcoal on top of the starter. Notice: be careful not to touch the heating element of the electric starter.

Firestarter briquette

These briquette combustibles can be found in hardware and house improvement stores. Many supermarkets sell the products. In contrast to charcoal lighter fluid, they leave no residual flavor.

After removing the charcoal from the grill, close all the vents.

Stack up the fire starters in the pile, covering them up with the fire starting tool. Use stick lights for lighting charcoal, following the directions on the package for the operation.

Remove the grill lid to keep the fire starters in action. After about 10 minutes, the briquette should be completely burned away, leaving behind nothing but lit coals.

Gather your supplies to get started!

You’ll need a few key items to light your charcoal without lighter fluid. Make sure you have the following items on hand:

  • Charcoal
  • Long-handled lighter
  • Chimney starter
  • Matches

Prepare the charcoal grill

Before lighting the charcoal, it’s important to make sure your charcoal grill is ready. Clear the grill grate of any debris and make sure the bottom is clean. Place the grate over the coals and you’re ready to get started.

Place charcoal in the chimney starter

Fill the bottom of the starter with the desired amount of charcoal. If the charcoal is damp, you can use newspaper or other kindling to help it light more easily.

Light the charcoal

Place the chimney starter on your charcoal grill and light it with your long-handled lighter or matches. You may need to light the charcoal from the top and bottom.

Wait for the charcoal to turn white

Once the charcoal has burned for a few minutes, the edges will start to turn white. This is a sign that the charcoal has reached its ideal temperature and is ready to cook.

Preheat the grill

Preheat your grill by setting the lid on top and opening the vents. Preheating the charcoal grill helps to create an even cooking temperature and keeps the charcoal from burning too quickly.

Add the food

Once the grill is preheated, feel free to drizzle some cooking oil and add food. Place the food on the grate, close the lid, and adjust the vents as necessary.

Monitor the temperature

Keep an eye on the temperature of the charcoal grill by checking the vents and lid. You may need to adjust the vents to raise or lower the temperature as needed.

Clean the grill

Finally, it’s important to clean the grill after use.

Remove the grate and clean it with soapy water and a wire brush.

Don’t forget to wipe down the outside of the grill as well.

Why you should use a chimney starter to light charcoal

A chimney starter is a metal cylinder that helps to light charcoal quickly.

Heat rises from coal upwards, so these devices concentrate the whole heat in the steel cylinder that helps heat coal inside the cooking chamber rather than passing through the air. The chimney is also an affordable option, usually costing between $15 and $25, yet provides long-term durability.

A word about lump charcoal vs. charcoal briquettes

Lump charcoal burns much cooler and cleaner than normal charcoal briquettes. They are also produced from 100% hardwood, without any chemicals in their composition.

If it’s a natural fire, lump charcoal might be the best option. Compared to charcoal, briquettes are more easily available and cheaper.

Whichever you choose, get the highest quality product. The best charcoal gives your fires a better flavor each time.


Voilà, you know how to light your charcoal without lighter fluid!

Grilling with charcoal is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. With just a few simple steps, you can easily light a fire and eliminate the need to buy lighter fluid to achieve flawlessly lit coals.

It’s important to make sure you have the right tools and materials to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Whether you’re a seasoned griller or a newbie, by following these steps, you can ensure the success of your next time you will grill outdoors. So grab your charcoal, matchsticks, and patience, and get ready to grill!


Can you light a grill without lighter fluid?

Put the paper on top, put it in a grill grater, add charcoal and start to heat – either paper or pinecone. It’s hot, so use tongs for turning or moving it. It is not worth the extra expense or lighter fluid in the chimney.

How much charcoal should I use?

The amount of charcoal you use will depend on the size of your grill. Generally, one chimney starter of charcoal is enough for most standard grills.

Is it safe to use a match or lighter to light the charcoal?

Yes, it is safe to use a match or lighter to light the charcoal. However, it is important to keep them out of reach of children and use a long-handled lighter or matches to avoid burns.

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