FANFOOD RULES: #2. Never use Lighter Fluid



There are so many ways to light your charcoal, why would anyone use lighter fluid?  While you might think it is easier, you NEVER want use lighter fluid or any kind of charcoal that is self-lighting (ones that have an additive to make it start without lighter fluid). Lighter fluid and these additives can leave behind a bad taste that you don’t want.


Charcoal should be clean and produce virtually no smoke when fully lit.


There are simple ways to light a charcoal grill without lighter fluid, here they are from good to best:




Place a piece of any newspaper that uses soy-based ink, or a small swatch of a 100% plain white cotton t-shirt on a flat surface. Pour a small amount of cooking oil in the center of the paper, then build the lump charcoal or natural briquets up around the paper in a pyramid fashion, make sure to leave some space between the pieces of charcoal so that there is room to light the paper and for air to get in. light the newspaper, and let it go. This will take a bit longer to fully light than with lighter fluid or a chimney starter (below), but the fire should still be ready in less time than it would take to burn off all traces of lighter fluid or the additives.


Here is a what your pile should look like:


Here is video using cloth:





Go out and get yourself a chimney starter. The concept is fairly simple: You load up the space on the bottom with a piece of newspaper or two, pile coals in from the top, then light the newspaper. The fire and heat from the newspaper ignites the bottom coals, then the fire builds up. When the top coals are covered with gray ash, you’re ready to go. Since the coals are concentrated in a relatively small space vertically, a chimney starter is incredibly effective. It will light enough coals for a 22″ kettle in about 15 to 20 minutes. One of the great advantages of a charcoal chimney is that you can start up more coals anytime you need them. This Weber charcoal chimney is well built and durable enough to last through hundreds of start ups.

Here is a step-by-step tutorial, followed by a how-to video:


The Weber Chimney Starter:


Make a newspaper “donut”:


Place in the bottom of the chimney starter:


What it will look like as it lights:


Your coals are about ready:


Your coals are ready:






On windy days, burnt newspaper can fly all over the place and get all over your patio and furniture. For a better option with your chimney starter, use Paraffin cubes, like Weber Lighter Cubes. They burn at 1300°F for 10-12 minutes. Simply light 2 cubes under the chimney and you’re good to go. They are a definite must if you often find yourself watching unwanted flying burnt newspaper getting all over the place.

Here is a picture of what you would do:






Most charcoal starters require 10 to 15 minutes to get the charcoal burning completely. Using an electric blow torch of a charcoal starter can do it in 60 seconds. This works like a high powered paint stripper, focusing hot air (around 1250 degrees F.) at the coals not only giving your charcoal the heat to get the fire going but also fans to flame as a high powered blower. While it costs around $80, it isn’t the cheapest solution but it sure is the fastest, and in our opinion the best.


Here is picture of the Looftlighter 60 Second Charcoal Starter:


Here is a video of one in action:




Where To Buy


Cowboy Lump Charcoal (FANFOOD Favorite)


Amazon (BIG BAG)

Home Depot (smaller bag)


Kingsford Competition Briquets (FANFOOD favorite in colder weather)



Stubbs All-Natural Charcoal Briquets (FANFOOD favorite for long smokes)


Walmart (15 pound bags)


Stubbs vs Kingsford (side by side competition from a guy with lots of time on his hands)


Weber Chimney Starter (FANFOOD Favorite)


Weber Lighter Cubes (lights even when wet)



Wood Chips & Chunks for your smoker and grill


 Fruita Wood Chunks


Looftlighter 60 Second Charcoal Starter (FANFOOD must have if you grill as much as we do)

Amazon ($85)

Fire Craft ($79)





High Heat , ,

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