How To Build A Hot Fire In Your Grill

Learn how to quickly and safely start charcoal fires and get to grillin' using a stacked charcoal pyramid or chimney.

It's grillin' season, time to fire up the grill. While you don't have to be a rocket scientist to start a fire, there are certain things you can do so the fire you start won't send you or nearby loved ones to the emergency room. Let common sense prevail.

Before you start the fire, take note of wind direction. Stand upwind and position your grill in the same manner. Have a Class A fire extinguisher nearby just in case and a pair of thick oven mitts to protect your hands close to the fire. Set your tools, matches and lighter fluid on a flat secure surface that is high enough so your tools and fluid won't be accidentally kicked over. You're ready to go.

Remember that heat rises and fire follows the pathway of available fuel. In the bottom of you grill, pour in some charcoal. You don't need the stuff that self-ignites, plain old stuff will do. Crumple a small bit of newspaper and dig out the middle of the pile. Stack the briquettes into a loose pyramid shape around and over the newspaper, about eight to ten inches high, depending upon the size of fire you need.



Lightly sprinkle lighter fluid onto the charcoal. Don't go wild or your spouse may end up calling 911. Place the can of charcoal lighter well away from the grill and make sure that it isn't downwind of the grill. Lighter fluid fumes can travel and ignite. Light a wooden kitchen match and toss it onto the pyramid. The fluid will ignite, and the newspaper will provide enough rising heat and flame to ignite the center of the pyramid's briquettes. As heat and flames rise, the edges of the of the inner pyramid coals and the outer stacked coals will glow. It will take about 10-15 minutes or so before the coals get good ignition and their edges turn a white ashy color. Reposition the coals and you're ready to grill.

Another method that's useful but a bit slower, uses a charcoal chimney you can buy. The chimney is essentially a metal can with some knockouts in the bottom sides with an attached handle. Crumple some newspaper and heap on enough charcoal briquettes to fill the can. You won't nerd lighter fluid. You can set the chimney in the grill or elsewhere, but make sure it rests upon a nonflammable surface well out of the reach of kids and pets. Light the newspaper with your kitchen match and in 15-20 minutes the coals will be started and ready to go. Carefully pour the glowing charcoal into the grill and get to grillin'.

You can also use a large coffee can instead of buying the chimney. It'll work but lacks a handle so you'll have to use a pair of long channel lock pliers to grab it and pour the hot coals into the grill. Use the mitts when you do.

Using these methods will help you to safely start a grill fire and enjoy the rewards of outdoor grillin'.

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