How to Light Heat Beads (2 Super Easy Methods)

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Many people struggle to light their BBQ!

That is why briquettes or heat beads are so handy!

Do you want to know the easiest way to light your Heat Beads?

Getting the fire started and then keeping it lit can be time-consuming. Especially if it all burns out before the job is done. 

Fuelling your BBQ with heat beads offers a fantastic alternative to charcoal. As it is easy to get them hot and ready to cook on within 30 minutes.

We have two methods below, that will have you lighting your heat beads like a pro!

Cooking our NZ lamb shoulder over heat beads

Wait Back Up! What Are Heat Beads?

Heat beads are a type of briquettes. They are pillow-shaped, compressed bricks of the leftover bits of coal. Mixed with a couple of other ingredients it forms a wonderful product that offers a dependable, sustainable fuel choice.

Using the Right Barbeque

First up, using a compatible grill will make the task easier!

Heat Beads are designed to light quickly and easily. Choose a grill that has the ‘traditional firebox at the bottom and a  grill plate over the top. This is perfect if you’re setting up your grill to smoke meat.

The grill needs to allow the free flow of air for better combustion.

Good air circulation around the beads will keep them active and maintain an even cooking temp. The better the air circulation, the better the heat stability and cooking potential.

Of course, they’d be just as at home doing a bit of camp oven cooking, piled up around the cast iron cookware. 

Positioning the Heat Beads on the Grill

There are also a couple of simple but handy ways to light the Heat Beads.
The most effective way to prepare the heat beads is using a pyramid shape or using a BBQ chimney.

1. Pyramid

Place three firelighter BBQ starters in the center of the lower fire grate level. Firelighters are cubes of combustible materials that are a great lighter fluid alternative and make the lighting process a whole lot safer and easier

Pile up the briquettes into a briquette cone – a pyramid shape built over the firelighters. Make sure the air can flow in and around the pyramid as this is important to get an even distribution of heat through all the beads. The cone shape allows the fire to naturally rise upwards, eventually lighting all the bricks.

Place one final firelighter on top of the pile to light. Take care to make sure there are enough heat beads in your pyramid to cover the area with a single layer when it is eventually flattened. Light the firelighters and leave to burn for around 30 to 40 minutes.

2. Lighting with a Chimney

A BBQ chimney starter is a jug-shaped metal tube, full of evenly spaced holes for maximum airflow. Chimneys are a great no-fuss way to light and contain the BBQ briquettes while they are burning.

Fill the chimney with heat beads, again enough to cover the grill with a single layer of bricks, and set aside.

Line up three firelighter cubes on the lower grate underneath the cooking area, and light with a flame. Place the loaded chimney directly on top of the lit firelighters.

The combustible material in the heat beads also helps maintain the heat of the burn more effectively than even the quality charcoals.

The addition of firelighters throughout also helps keep with an even flame, burning through the tiers consistently. A firelighter at the top of the chimney will speed the process up too.

Knowing When They’re Ready to Grill On

Heat Beads will be at their peak cooking performance when they have ‘ashed over’ and all the outer edges have taken on an even gray-ash appearance. 

It takes around 30 to 40 minutes to get to this ash level, signifying they are ready for the next stage.

Leaving them piled up when they are in the ash state for too long will lessen the span of cooking time.

Using BBQ gloves, gently tip the bricks from the chimney over the grill plate in a single layer, or into the baskets or trays, whatever you have set up to cook.

Our heat beads have the washed over color now

Extinguishing Your Briquettes

When the cook is done and the grill is no longer needed, pour some water over the heat or cover it with sand or dirt. More often than not, these leftover beads can be reused.

Heat beads have a lower level of sustained heat, so it’s not prone to react to fat dripping on them. Which is always a welcome advantage!

Heat beads are also reusable and sustainably sourced and offer reliable, consistent heat.

If set up correctly they offer the perfect cooking environment. Armed with a couple of tips and tricks, you’ll be a heat bead fan in no time!

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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