Looking to better manage heat? Here’s how to light a charcoal BBQ with and without a charcoal chimney, for both new and experienced Pitmasters. This tutorial will take you back to the basics and dive right in to the foundational mechanics of burning coals for your meat cooks…

How To Light a Charcoal BBQ – With & Without a Charcoal Chimney

Before diving into how to light a charcoal BBQ grill, let’s take a look at some things you can do to prepare.

  • Take the time to clean any ashes left over from your last cook. Sweep out any leftover debris at the bottom of the grill and collect them in a trash bin. If you’re smart, you could even save some money during this step!
  • Clean the grates. Burned fat and food leftovers will stick to the grates, and might leave a bitter taste in the food you’ll be cooking.

Lighting Charcoal With Starter Cubes

Use about 5 lbs of charcoal (or briquettes). Arrange them in a pile in your BBQ- this will make it easier for the fire to spread through the fuel.

Now position starter cubes throughout the pile- 3 to 5 cubes should be enough, spread evenly throughout the charcoal. Make sure the

Light the starter cubes, and open the bottom vents of your setup all the way to feed the flame with as much oxygen as it needs. Give it about 45 minutes for the charcoal to get a light gray coat of ash.

Lighting Charcoal With a Charcoal Chimney

A charcoal chimney has a couple of advantages over the previous method. It’s a lot faster, and there’s virtually zero chance the fire will extinguish itself before lighting the charcoal.

To get things started, simply fill up the chimney with charcoal up to the top (or just underneath it). Then, place either newspaper or fire starter cubes underneath the chimney and light them up. The fire will travel upwards and light the fuel evenly. In about 20 minutes you should be ready to go!

Conclusion: Both methods are valid and equally effective. But the chimney cuts the time needed to prepare your BBQ in half, therefore it is definitely worth the investment.

Check out more advanced Pitmaster techniques by following one of the links below!

Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes : Choosing the Right Charcoal for Grilling and Smoking

The Minion Method: How To Manage Heat In Your Smoker

A Simple Strategy To Save Money On Charcoal

How To Make Lump Charcoal In Your Back Yard

Homemade Smoker: How To Build Your Own Mini Smoker

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