How to Keep a Charcoal Grill Lit

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

If you’re tired of having your charcoal grill fizzle out on you just when you need it most, you’ve come to the right place in your search for a solution to this annoying problem. After all, we would all like the assurance that once we have our fire going, it won’t die anytime soon. Thankfully, this can be a reality with the right amount of care and maintenance.

Ensuring that your fire continues to burn for as long as you need it depends on how you start the fire in the first place. You’ll need to pay just as much attention to the assembly of your charcoal fire as you would to tending to it. That means that ample preparation is key to keeping your charcoal grill hot and ready.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though. Some of you may not even know where to start. Luckily, we do, so before you fire up the grill again, take a look at our guide on how to keep a charcoal grill lit so you can take all of the frustration out of the equation and enjoy your fire or barbecue to the fullest.

Quality Charcoal

Nobody wants to pay obscene amounts of money for a bag of charcoal briquettes. However, if your charcoal fire dying out is a consistent source of annoyance and frustration for you, then the truth is that it probably comes down to which brand of charcoal you chose to invest in.

Generic brand charcoal may seem far more convenient (not to mention a lot more friendly to your wallet), but it is more than worth it to spend just a little bit more money on a bag of high-quality charcoal.

Chimney Starters

While making use of a chimney starter may feel a bit like cheating, it’s a perfectly viable solution to creating a strong, lasting charcoal fire. Of course, that also means spending even more money on yet another piece of seemingly redundant equipment.

The investment is well worth it, however. It’s a one-time payment, and unlike charcoal, you won’t need to opt for some of the more expensive brands when it comes to chimney starters. Even the cheapest and most generic of chimney starters has the potential to get a good fire going thanks to the rudimentary (yet highly effective) technology they incorporate.

If you’re still in doubt about your ability to get a good fire going, or the extra effort seems like too much to handle, a chimney starter will be a great, worthwhile, and useful purchase.

Getting Your Charcoal Fire Started the Right Way

Getting a charcoal fire going seems simple on paper, and as such, many people will be able to quickly grasp the basics. However, there are a few tricks that some may not know about, tricks that will surely help keep your fire burning for as long as it needs to.

As always, let’s start at the beginning and go from there.

Step One: Getting Started

Before you pick up a few briquettes of charcoal, you’ll first need to make sure that your grill is up to scratch and ready for the fire.

Start by cleaning out any excess ash leftover from previous grilling sessions. This step is important to ensure that your fire can get started easily and last longer, because ash can smother your fire and prevent your charcoal from burning evenly.

Secondly, you’ll also need to open the bottom vents of the grill. Again, this step is important to ensure that, once your fire starts, it doesn’t stop. Your charcoal needs as much air as possible to burn evenly.

Lastly, though fairly obvious, you’ll need to remove the grating in preparation for your charcoal briquettes.

Step Two: Assemble the Charcoal

Now it’s time to grab your bag of charcoal and pour some of it into your grill. How much charcoal you need to use depends on the type of cook you’re going for.

The easiest way to do this is to carefully empty the bag of charcoal directly into the grill. Then, use a pair of tongs to maneuver them into a pyramid shape, making sure that they are tightly packed for the strongest fire possible.

Don’t throw all the charcoal on at once, however. Start with roughly half of what you expect to need once the fire has fully started, and then add five to seven more at a time once the other ones are hot enough. Smaller grills will usually only be able to handle around 30 charcoal briquettes – in this case, you’ll start with 15 briquettes and add incrementally five at a time as the fire gets hotter and hotter.

Again, how much charcoal you need depends on both the size of your grill and the type of cook you want.

Step Three: Lighting the Fire

Grab some lighter fluid and squirt a little onto the top of your charcoal pyramid. The goal is to get the fluid down the middle of the pile. Be careful not to use too much, though. After letting them soak for about two to three minutes, add a second “layer” of lighter fluid across the briquettes, again being careful not to overdo it.

When you’re ready, light the fire with either a long matchstick or a long lighter. Although lighter fluid is not made to flare up, it should still be treated like…well, fire. As such, caution is strongly advised. If you don’t have lighter fluid, here’s how to light a charcoal grill.

Refer to Step Two, and remember to incrementally add more briquettes.

Step Four: Clear the Grill

Once the fire has gotten going, ash will start to appear and it’s important to clear it out as soon as possible to ensure that your fire spreads evenly.

Final Words

As you can see, keeping a charcoal grill fire going is not as difficult as it may seem – that is if you come fully prepared, of course. Hopefully, we’ve given you some direction on how to do that. As with any fire, though, remember to be careful.

Special offer for our visitors

Get your Charcoal Grill Free Guide

We will never send you spam. By signing up for this you agree with our privacy policy and to receive regular updates via email in regards to industry news and promotions