How to light a BBQ without firelighters?
This guide describes four unique ways how to light a BBQ without firelighters. Some ways are quicker, more effective, and more efficient than others, but may also cost a lot more. We detail exactly how each method works, and the pros and cons of each, so that you can make an informed decision on how you will light your BBQ in the future.
The BEST way to light a BBQ
The BEST way to light a BBQ in our opinion is using a Charcoal Chimney. Using a charcoal chimney means you can light charcoal very easily with a few sheets of paper. The chimney will protect coals on a windy day and once ready, it’s very safe and easy to tip them into the barbecue. There is very little chance of going wrong when using a charcoal chimney and they work the first time, every time with no real way of them malfunctioning.
The charcoal, kindling and paper method
Using charcoal, kindling and paper is probably one of the most popular ways to light a BBQ. It is certainly a more labour intensive way to light your barbecue, and to be honest it’s not always very reliable. If you’re not skilled in lighting fires then you may struggle to do it this way without practice.
How to light a BBQ with charcoal, kindling and paper?
#1 The first thing you need to do is to build a foundation of briquettes or charcoal on which to build your fire
#2 Take four sheets of newspaper and place them in the center of the foundation
#3 Take your kindling and place it in a crisscross pattern covering the paper, press it down to create a level surface.
#4 Add some charcoal on top of the kindling and light the paper.
#5 Once you see the charcoal begin to Ash over then it is ready for more to be added and you need to build your fire
- This method requires the use of no chemicals
- No Chemicals
- You will need some patience fire building skills and dry kindling
- It’s a little slow
- More difficult to do in windy conditions
- It’s definitely the most time-consuming way to light a barbecue but also the most satisfying
The Looftlighter Method
If you regularly use your charcoal BBQ, investing in a looftlighter is a good idea. This device, which combines a blower and a heater to direct super-heated air, can help light charcoal in a matter of seconds.
Not only will this device have your charcoal BBQ up and running in a matter of minutes, but it also may come with a bottle opener! The stand for the device doubles as a bottle opener and as BBQ’s are all about having fun and social gatherings, what better way to relax than with a cold beer.
Looftlighters are fairly new to the BBQ scene and if you’re reading this article, it probably shows you’re unfamiliar with the Looftlighter. Therefore the steps you need to take to use it are listed below.
How to light a BBQ with a looftlighter?
#1 Plug in the device
#2 Build a small pyramid of charcoal in the centre of your BBQ
#3 Place the lighter at the base of the pile and press the ignite button
#4 Once you can see coals spark or glow, move the device back an inch and keep it pointing in the same direction
#5 After a minute or two the coals should have enough heat applied to allow them to continue burning and you can turn the looftlighter off
- By far the fastest way to light a BBQ
- Handy bottle opener is a bonus
- Chemical free
- You need a source of electricity
- They are definitely not the cheapest way to light a BBQ
- There’s no denying that if money is no object, then anyone who regularly has BBQs should buy a looftlighter but there’s something inauthentic about it
The Charcoal Chimney Method
Our preferred way of starting my BBQ is to use a charcoal chimney because it’s cheap, clean, and works pretty well. It’s much faster than trying to light the charcoal with paper and kindling.
If you want an in-depth guide about using a chimney you can read our article How to Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter for more information.
Charcoal chimneys are very simple devices. All they are is effectively a metal tube that allows you to hold your paper and charcoal in place while you light them. The heat rises from the bottom of the chimney up the stack while the air gets sucked in from the bottom. This chimney action will ensure that all your charcoal or briquettes will catch light. In effect, a charcoal chimney is a self fanning device.
You can easily pick up one of these neat devices, they are fairly inexpensive and they will last a long time with no need to plug them in.
How to light a BBQ with a charcoal chimney?
#1 Place two balled up pieces of newspaper in the bottom of your chimney
#2 Pour in some briquettes and charcoal from the top and fill it to create maximum heat in your grill. If you’re looking to slow cook, then you should just half fill the stack.
#3 Place your chimney on the base of your barbecue and light it.
#4 Once you see the top layers of coals ash over, they’re ready so carefully dump them into the grill and dispersed them
- Effective and inexpensive
- No chemicals or electricity needed
- Works every time and will not let you down
- The chimney method is by far the most healthy, effective and least expensive way to light a barbecue, especially as it uses no chemicals in the process
- The side handle design of the device sometimes it makes it difficult to work in more narrow or deeper grill design
An Electric Charcoal Starter
Our last way of lighting your barbecue without the use of an electric charcoal starter. These types of firelighter use an electric starter which is a stove burner element that has been bent into U shape. It’s like the poor cousin of the Looftlighter but is still a very effective way of starting a barbecue.
How to light a BBQ with an electric charcoal starter?
#1 Place the element on the base of your barbecue with the handle sticking out in an easily accessible place
#2 Put a pyramid of charcoal on top of the element
#3 Plug the element in
#4 Once you notice your charcoals are glowing and starting to turn grey unplug the element and remove it carefully
#5 If you’re looking to build a small grill or just light a smaller area of charcoal this can be very effective as the chimney method will take longer and is usually designed for larger amounts of charcoal.
- Works every time
- Fast and efficient
- Uses no chemicals
Please always remember when you’re starting your barbecue using any chemical fire starters or accelerants like lighter fluid, it could affect the quality of your food. Every type of fire starter we recommend above is efficient and clean. Obviously the electrical devices are faster and more efficient so depending on your needs and your budget choosing any of these methods will safely light your barbecue.
You can find all of the types of BBQ starting devices in our accessories shop.