How to Use A Charcoal Fireplace [Quickly & Safely]


If you’re looking for the best way to light a charcoal grill, you’ve come to the right place. How to use a charcoal fireplace.

Charcoal is the purest form of grilling fuel YOU can use and I wouldn’t recommend using anything else. However, it is notoriously difficult to ignite.

It can be tempting to use things like briquettes or lighter fluid, but I highly recommend it. Briquettes are messy and cheap, while lighter fluid can leave a chemical smack on the food you’re cooking.

Chimney lighter on charcoal grill

Instead, get a charcoal chimney(also called a chimney starter) for the easiest and most efficient way to light charcoal . It is by far the best alternative to lighter fluid.

Charcoal fireplaces make it easy to light embers by stacking them in a small tumbling structure so they can light at the bottom. The structure and the simple arrangement of the ventilation slots on the sides allow the embers to ignite much faster than if they were spread out on the floor of the grill chamber( fountain ).

After they’re lit, simply transfer them to your grill for grilling. Easy right?

It might be easy to think that all you need is a chimney for a large charcoal grill , but the truth is that a chimney starter is a must if your grill uses charcoal, large or small.

illuminated charcoal fireplace on grill grates

Thanks, they’re really cheap( Here’s a Budget Starter on Amazon ) and will last you for years.

Chimney starters are basically metal cylinders with nothing but vents and grilles attached to ensure efficient airflow to help you start the fire.

The fireplace allows the embers to burn faster and hotter because they are packed into a small space. The vents are perfectly placed to allow air to flow from bottom to top while protecting you from wind or overexposure.

How to use a fireplace lighter.

Charcoal chimney starter

First of all, in addition to a fireplace lighter, you need a few quick things.

Lighter Cube – use something you put under the chimney starter to light it up. Some people really just use newspaper here, but I personally prefer lighter buckets because they’re more reliable. They’re also pretty cheap, so I think the extra cost is worth it.

BBQ Gloves – The problem with many chimney lighters is that safety has not always been a top priority for many manufacturers, meaning chimney handles are not always well insulated or protected with leather or plastic handles. As you can imagine, the metal of a chimney starter can heat up very quickly, so you should wear a good pair of grilling gloves to protect against burns .

Charcoal fireplace dumps coals into cookbox

How to use a fireplace lighter

Open the grill lid and place the chimney starter on the charcoal cooking grates. This will help protect your surfaces from damage from the searing heat from the edges of your starter as it heats up.

Place lighters or shredded newspapers at the base of the fireplace, under the grate.

Place your charcoal in the cylinder on the grill. Fill the chimney to the brim.

Light the newspaper or lighter buckets with a match or lighter through the holes in the bottom of the chimney.

Allow the newspaper to light the charcoal to the top and allow the embers to begin to char.

Wait about 10-20 minutes and once half of the coals have turned white you can place the coals on your grill.

Chimney starter filled with burning charcoal

When using the indirect grill, be sure to place the coals to one side of the base of your charcoal chamber. If you’re new to cooking, here’s how to indirectly grill.

Place the charcoal grill back on the grill, over the glowing coals.

After placing the coals on the grill, keep a close eye on them to make sure the coals stay lit. Close the grill lid and open both sets of flaps to allow full air flow through the grill. It should have both an inlet and an outlet flap. The inlet port is in the bottom of the chamber and the outlet port is in the lid.

Let the grill heat up. We want to achieve an internal temperature of around 260-290°C( 500-550°F ). This usually takes between 10 and 20 minutes, but it’s recommended to use a grill thermometer to check the surface temperature of the grill.

Once the temperature has reached 500°F, you can begin adjusting the dampers to achieve the ideal grilling temperature. If you’re not sure how to do this, read my guide on using steamers to achieve perfect temperatures for grilling or smoking.

And this is! The beauty of tools like charcoal fireplaces is that they are designed to help make grilling really easy, and they do just that.

When should I dispose of my charcoal fireplace?

Charcoal is ready to be placed in the charcoal grill when the embers have turned bright white with gray ash. You should also see an orange color coming from the bottom of the chimney. When they’re done, you can tip them onto the charcoal grill with long tongs or a shovel. This usually takes between 10 and 15 minutes.

If your chimney starter starts to smoke heavily and gives off large amounts of heat, then it’s time to put out the fire and spray it with water or sand before disposing of the deep ash in metal containers out of the reach of children and pets.

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