One of the most frustrating things that many of us have to do is figure out how to start a charcoal barbecue. There are all kinds of theories about the best way to do it, and some people will even get into arguments over it.
However, if you have never been shown how to light a charcoal barbecue, it is not obvious at all. Let us take a look at one way to get the job done and get grilling with a minimum of fuss. It may not be the absolute best way, but it definitely works.
Fortunately, knowing how to light a charcoal barbecue does not take a lot of advance knowledge or practice. You need to learn a few things to keep you from running into problems, and you are ready to grill.
If you are not using self-lighting charcoal, be sure to purchase lighter fluid, and make sure your charcoal is completely dry. Damp charcoal smokes more and is a lot harder to light. Make sure your area permits you to use an outdoor charcoal grill and to make a fire before starting, as well.
How to Light a Charcoal Barbeque
Always make sure your grill is completely clean before you light it, to prevent fumes and smoke. Place the charcoal on the bottom either of the grill, covering the entire base or in two equal piles for indirect cooking. If you will be cooking a large amount of meat, or if you are going to make several different kinds of vegetables and meats, light plenty of charcoal so you can move it around into piles later.
You will want to start with a small pile in the middle of the grill in most cases, piled up into one mound. An uneven pile could miss a few coals, which will be hard to correct later.
Douse the pile in lighter fluid and wait for it to be absorbed. Do not overdo it, but you do need a reasonable amount to get things going. Too much lighter fluid will cause the coals to flare at inconvenient times. Allowing the lighter fluid to be absorbed allows for more even heating, and keeps flare-ups from happening.
Apply your lighter to the charcoal and allow it to burn until the fire dies down. Make sure that the pile lights evenly. The pile should burn for about twenty minutes, and the outside of the coals should be gray with ash.
The timing of this can vary, depending on the weather conditions, amount of charcoal, and how big your grill is, however. Keep kids and pets away from the barbecue while you are lighting the charcoal, and never add more lighter fluid once the coals are burning.
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