In my eyes, cooking with charcoal is one of the more authentic ways of cooking on the grill. There is something about lighting the charcoal and giving it time to warm up and that smell and feels more traditional than just turning on a gas grill and getting started.
For a lot of people who have never owned a charcoal grill before, I hear the question 'how to light a charcoal grill' or 'How long does it take to light a charcoal grill". It is a common misconception that lighting a charcoal grill is something that takes a lot of time, its quite difficult, or it is much messier than other methods of grilling.
Lucky for you, I have two methods below that don’t take so much time, and are quite simple. These methods work on the theory that heat rises. Working on this theory helps us light more charcoal quicker and creates a super hot base to start cooking, without the hassle.
How To Light A Charcoal Grill The Easy way - The Pyramid Lighting Method
The first thing you need to do with the pyramid method is to soak your coals in lighter fluid. This ensures that your coals will light the first time, and stay alight. Soak your coals in lighter fluid for 2 minutes minimum. This ensures they are well soaked and the lighter fluid doesn’t just burn off.
Charlies fun fact
Using the pyramid method is the most common way of lighting a charcoal grill. This is because it is quick, simple, and easy. The pyramid method has been around for years and years. I learnt this method from my dad around 20 odd years ago. Its a tried-and-tester method that never fails.
Once well soaked, simply arrange your coals in a pyramid shape. Once you have a well shaped pyramid light from the bottom.
The pyramid shape allows the heat to rise up through the pyramid and light the coals above, creating lots of heat and a good base for your cooking.
When lighting the coals be sure to leave the lid open. This will ensure maximum airflow and help keep the pyramid alight.
How To Light A Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid? The Chimney Starter Lighting Method
The charcoal chimney starter is a great method for those who don’t like the idea of their coals soaking in lighter fluid. This method will require you to buy a charcoal chimney starter however, it is a much more natural way to light your coals. The starter is a more expensive option outright, however, over time will save you from buying lighter fluids.
The charcoal chimney starter method is quite a new method of lighting charcoal. This technique was developed to advance the pyramid method and physically channels he heat straight up. The experts behind this device are pure genius.
Another perk of this method is that it is a faster method of lighting charcoal. Once you have the method dialed. It should only take around 10 minutes to get nice hot coals.
To start the chimney charcoal smoker, simply add newspaper (or part of your used charcoal bag) to the bottom section of the chimney starter.
Charlies Hot Tip
Make sure you don’t overfill the paper compartment with paper. This will prolong the lighting time, cause a lot of unnecessary smoke and be a waste of paper.
Once you have the correct amount of paper, turn over and fill the coal section right to the tops with coals.
Then light the paper the whole way around, grab a cold beverage and wait for around 10 - 20 minutes until you see the coals hot and glowing white.
These methods are two methods that I know of. Personally, I am not such a big fan of using the pyramid method. I find that the lighter fluid does taint the flavor of your cook, and to be honest, I don't like adding unnecessary chemicals to my families food.
I find the charcoal chimney method is a much better method. This is because it uses no chemicals and for me is actually a faster way to get the coals nice and hot.
Do you have any other methods of starting your charcoal smoker? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!