When it comes to outdoor cooking, the best charcoal grills can make a lot of difference. They will give your food a unique smoky flavor. Nonetheless, these grills can also be frustrating. Using charcoal takes quite an effort, especially when starting a fire. Unlike its more modern counterparts, there is no button that you can just push to ignite a fire. That said, keep on reading this article and we’ll let you know how to start a BBQ fire with charcoal.
Start with a Clean Slate
The first thing you need to do is to inspect the charcoal grill to make sure that it is clean. From the grates to the vents to the other parts of the grill, see to it that there are no residues. Otherwise, the performance of the grill will be compromised.
Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter
The charcoal chimney starter will make grilling a lot easier. It allows you to start a fire while requiring minimal effort. To use a chimney starter, follow these simple steps:
- Lightly crumple newspaper and place it at the bottom of the chimney starter. Do not crumple the paper too tight. Otherwise, this limits the oxygen intake of the fire, which could be a reason for it to extinguish quickly.
- On the top of the paper, place wood chips or charcoal briquettes. Fill it until the top or depending on how many you will need.
- Light the paper at the bottom of the chimney starter. It is best to use a long-stemmed lighter to avoid burning your hand. Wait until it fires up and until it reaches the coals.
- The heat from the bottom will start to rise. You will notice embers on the top and the coal or chips can also start turning gray. Usually, the process may take 10 to 15 minutes. After this, dump the charcoal and you can now start grilling.
Use a Lighter Fluid
In case you don’t have a chimney starter, the next best thing that you can do is to use lighter fluid. Nonetheless, some people try to stay away from this method because of the smell of the fluid, which can get into the food. This is one of the easiest ways to ruin the flavor of whatever it is you are grilling.
- At the bottom of the grill, arrange crumpled newspaper.
- On top of the newspaper, add charcoal. Like with the newspaper, pay attention to how you arrange it, making sure that you spread it evenly.
- When arranging the charcoal, it is also important that you consider creating separate heat zones. This means that one portion of the grill should have high heat and the other portion should have medium to low heat, which will prevent you from burning whatever it is that you want to grill.
- Douse the coal and the paper with lighter fluid. Do not overdo it as this can create a fire that is bigger than what you need. Also, make sure that you do not pour lighter fluid on the other parts of the grill.
- Light the coals and the paper. Wait until you see fire on the top or until the coals turn gray before you start grilling. Putting the food on the grate when the grill isn’t hot enough will burn the food from the outside.
Sustaining the Fire
It is not enough that you know how to start a BBQ fire with charcoal. It’s just the first step of grilling. You should also pay attention on how to build and keep a strong fire. Otherwise, the temperature will be inconsistent.
Among others, one of the most important is to keep the coals densely packed. This lessens the likelihood that the fire will be extinguished. However, when they are too packed, they won’t get the air that you need.
Speaking of air, you also need to know how to control the vents. The bottom and top vents are important to manage the airflow in the grill. If there is no air, there will be no fire. On the other hand, when there is too much air, the fire can be too big, and the grill will be too hot. This makes it important that you learn how to adjust the vents accordingly depending on the specific requirements of your recipe.