How to Light a Charcoal Grill

How to Light a Charcoal Grill

If you’re not familiar with a charcoal grill, it may seem like a bit of a challenge to get it lit and going. And nothing is more frustrating than wanting to grill and not having success with lighting it. When done correctly, lighting charcoal is actually quite simple despite these fears. Read here for a few tips on how to light a charcoal grill. 

First, Remember Safety Above All Else

Fire is a beautiful and useful thing. But it can also be an extremely dangerous thing and should be respected as such. A mishandled fire can get out of hand quickly. The last thing you want is for your desire for a delicious meal to lead to someone getting hurt or something getting damaged.

That said, when lighting your charcoal, you first want to be conscious of your surroundings and environment. A charcoal grill should be on level ground and at least five feet away from anything that could catch fire. This includes outdoor furniture, outdoor structures, and your home siding. Additionally, young children should stay clear of the grilling area, even after the food comes off as it needs to cool down. 

Add Your Fuel of Choice

The type of fuel you use for your grill depends on the primary function of the grill itself. A Big Green Egg® uses natural lump charcoal made from hardwoods. Lump charcoal burns cleanly and lights easily. Fill your egg with lump charcoal up to the rim of the firebox. You can also add two or three charcoal fire starters but never use lighter fluid with a Big Green Egg. 

Alternatively, a Napoleon® Charcoal Grill can burn lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes, depending on what you prefer. Just keep in mind that briquettes are treated with starter fluid additives and, therefore, should never be added during the cooking process. 

Light Up Your Charcoal Grill

For a Big Green Egg, simply make a divot or pocket in the middle of the lump of charcoal inside the grill, add the fire starter cubes, and light them on fire. Place the cooking grate back on before you close the grill dome. Keep the metal top open for maximum airflow. The fire will soon spread to the charcoal, the heat and fire will radiate outward, and the grill temperature will rise. You should reach your desired cooking temperature in 10 to 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can use the BGE electric firestarter by placing it in the middle of the coals for seven minutes, or until the coals are a beautiful red.

With a Napoleon Grill, make use of the JETFIRE™ Chimney Starter to get your charcoal started in no time. Place your kindling of choice at the bottom of the starter, then fill with charcoal and light. After about 15 minutes, the charcoal should be a hot, glowing red, and you can pour the coals into your Napoleon Grill for cooking.


If the world of charcoal grill seems overwhelming or baffling to you, fear not! At Energy Center – Manhattan Pool, we have the knowledge and expertise to educate and assist you in the proper use of charcoal grills. If you’re looking for the best options for grills, charcoal, or grill accessories, stop by our store in Manhattan. Contact us today to start grilling better than ever before!

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