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Or you laid that chicken on and when you go back to look all you see is black coals with little white spots of ash!  Don't put the dimmer on your fab backyard gathering with a limp batch of coals.  Get it right the first time.  Every Time!

The Best Way to Start That Fire

So you've finally decided to put that barbeque grill to good use this barbeque season but don't know the first thing about barbequing or even how to light a barbeque fire?  There's nothing to worry about because by the time you finish this article you will know which coals and lighting methods are best for different types of barbeque grills and accomplished the first two steps of grilling up well prepared barbeque meals.

The first step to starting a barbeque fire is identifying the right barbeque charcoals for different types of barbeque grills, pits and Smokers.  For example, what to use for a gas grill, propane grills and standard wood or charcoal grill will determine the proper barbeque fire starting method.   Let's look at the most common types of grills, coals and lighting methods used.

Smokers - a smoker is a barbeque grill that functions by smoking the meat.  It's a cylindrical shaped grill with a long shaft and adjustable griddle settings.  Smokers are great year round to smoke turkeys and hams for the holidays or to make homemade smoke sausages and jerkies.   Using mesquite or hickory wood chips and charcoal is ideal for smoking and the best way to start a barbeque fire.

  • Place a small pile of mesquite or hickory charcoal in the center of the smoker pit. Then using lighter fluid lightly saturate the coals.
  • A good trick is to use a stacker and let the coals sit for a minute or two after squirting them with fluid.  Then lift the stacker and start the fire.
  • It's best to use a long nose barbeque lighter or fireplace match stick and light not just one, but two or three sides of the fire at the same time
  • While the charcoals are flaming, burning, take a hand full of wood chips and dip them in water for no more than 20 minutes or until the burning coals have reduced flame production and are burning cinders covered with ash.
  • Finally once the coals are red and hot, take the hand full of water soaked wood chips and place them on the smoldering coals, close the pit door but allow for sufficient ventilation.  Soon after heavy clouds of smoke should begin emerging from the smokers vents and the smoker is ready to add meat.

Charcoal Grills - Charcoal grills are the easiest barbeque fires to start.  You can find a charcoal grill at any hardware store.  There are even built in brick charcoal grills or custom barrel grills and hibachis as a choice in barbeque grills that use charcoal.    Lighting a charcoal barbeque grill is quite simple and should only take at least 20 minutes to prepare before barbequing.

  • Select from a choice in self lighting charcoal like "Match Lite" or other self igniting coals. Do not use lighter fluid with self igniting coals, this will make the meat taste funny or like lighter fluid. The self igniting coals are pre-soaked in lighting fluid for easy handling and less mess.
  • Start by using a third of the charcoal bag to start the barbeque fire and set it in the center of the barbeque pit. Using a fireplace match or a long nose lighter set the coals on fire. Let burn until all the coals are red and smoldering.
  • Then use another third of the charcoals by placing them on top of the smoldering red coals. Cover with the barbeque pit top for about 10 - 15 minutes or until the fire is nice and hot and ready to grill some great tasting barbeque.

Gas or Propane Grills - the convenience of a gas or propane barbeque grill is in lighting the barbeque fire.  Plus there's less worry of chemical flavors in the meat from using newspaper or too much lighter fluid to start the fire.

  • The gas or propane grills merely require a little self igniting charcoal and some wood chips.
  • Using the same method as the charcoal grill to light the gas or propane grill; simply set the coals in the middle of the grill, open the gas or propane valve and light with a long match or lighter.
Make sure to always use proper lighting methods this barbeque season, to ensure great tasting even cooked meat that's tender and flavorful.   Now you don't have to worry about that hungry mob of family and friends, because the barbeque fire is started and ready.
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