Top 4 Substitutes for Lighter Fluid [Easy Grill Fuel Alternatives]


Simple replacement for lighter fluid to light your charcoal grill. From charcoal fireplaces to newspaper, these alternatives will get your BBQ up and running in no time.

best substitute for lighter fluid

Lighting a charcoal grill style=”vertical-align: inherit;”> can be hard work, and it can be even harder if you don’t have a lighter handy.

While I would always suggest lighting your charcoal grill with something like a chimney starter, sometimes speed and conveyance are of the essence. For this reason, lighter fluid can be a great backup.

Using lighter fluid is a quick and easy way to light your charcoal grill. But what to do when the fuel supply is exhausted? Here are the best alternatives to lighter fluid to get you out of a tight spot.

Charcoal embers in the charcoal fireplace

Coal fireplace

A charcoal fireplace is always my favorite way to light the grill. It eliminates the use of chemicals on grills and keeps the smells and flavors coming off your embers cleaner than lighter fluid.

Check out my full guide to using a charcoal fireplace here .

If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one. It’s one of the best investments you can make in your charcoal grill.

Charcoal fireplace lit on the grill


If you can’t get your hands on a charcoal fireplace, then tried-and-true newspaper is a great (though not ideal) alternative.

Protect the grill from disturbances(wind, rain, etc.) and fully open the grill’s vents and remove any accumulated ash or dirt from the bottom of the grill chamber.

Good, even airflow is key to the success of your grill, and this is especially true when using a more fragile lighting method like newspaper. We need as much oxygen as possible on the grill, and closed grates or residual ash are disruptive.

Shred four or five leaves into balls and place under the grate of your grill. Enough you to place them near the center of your cookbox.

Place the embers on top of the paper balls, making sure part of the paper is showing.

Paper can burn very quickly, which may not give the embers enough time to catch fire. If you encounter this problem, try soaking half of each paper ball in vegetable oil. The oil will help slow the rate at which the paper burns and give the charcoal more time to work.

Here’s another tip: If you’re having trouble, place small sticks of dry kindling on top of each newspaper. Firewood has a higher flash point than paper, making it much easier to ignite your embers.

There is no need to light the wood directly, the paper will do that. They will then light the coals at the same time.

Liquid charcoal for lighters
Lighter fluid may be easy to use, but it can ruin the aromas and flavor of your grilled food.


Any high alcohol liquor will do, but whiskey comes as close to authentic grilling as you can get using this method.

It also has a relatively high sugar content, which is great since the sugar itself can help light the charcoal. Sugar breaks down quickly when it WILL emit flame, but in doing so WILL emit a chemical that is harmless to fire. This will help light the charcoal.

Use with crumpled paper towels. Soak the cloths in whiskey, then place them between the coals before lighting.

I recommend extreme caution with this one( ignites extremely quickly . Drop a lit match or crumpled newspaper instead.

Egg carton

I feel like egg crates come in handy in a lot of situations, so it’s hardly surprising to see them on this list as well.

Take the bottom half of the box and remove the lid. Place the coals in the bottom half of the box and light each corner of the box. This allows the cardboard to slowly burn around the embers and ignite them.

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