How to Keep a Charcoal Grill Lit?

Learn how to keep it going as long as you need it

Written by Camilla Moln. Updated on How to Keep a Charcoal Grill Lit

Charcoal grilling gives that romantic and traditional vibe that so many of us appreciate when we want to relax outdoors! However, many charcoal grilling beginners often face the same problem when their charcoal grill won’t stay lit!

Want to know what to do to keep charcoal grill fire going? We will teach you how to do that, as well as how to light charcoal correctly, and many other handy things.

How to Keep a Charcoal Grill Going?

How to keep a charcoal grill going for hours? To achieve that effect, you need to make sure that the charcoal you are using for grilling is in proper condition. Also, there are several rather simple rules that must be followed if you want to use a charcoal grill properly.

  1. Make sure your charcoal is dry
  2. Make use of grill dampers
  3. Stack up your coal
  4. Fire the charcoal grill when the weather is suitable for this, not too humid and not too windy
  5. Use only high-quality wood
  6. Keep adding coals while the grill is going on
  7. Clean your grill

And now let’s see what exactly each of these nuances is about.

Charcoal Grill / Kettle - Biggest Beginners Mistake #charcoalgrill #beginnersmistake #bbq #doNOTdoitCharcoal Grill / Kettle – Biggest Beginners Mistake #charcoalgrill #beginnersmistake #bbq #doNOTdoit

Double-check your charcoal

It must be absolutely dry! If it is not, then it might be the reason why your grill won’t stay lit. To prevent charcoal from getting damp, remember that it tends to absorb moisture and hold it. This is why make sure you stock it in a dry place. Otherwise, it will not be able to stay lit or even be lit up!

Use dampers

Use dampers that are located at the bottom and at the top of almost every charcoal grill. With their help, you will be able to keep fire under control and make it stronger or, on the contrary, weaker. The basic rule of thumb is the following: more oxygen results in more fire. The more air the charcoal will receive, the better it will be able to light up. That is why it is important to keep the dampers open all the way through while you are preheating your grill!

If your major issue is how to keep charcoal burning, then stacking it up is the answer. When we arrange the coals in a pyramid-shaped construction, the heat will be able to distribute more evenly thus making charcoal burn non-stop and produce the same amount of heating.

Weather matters a lot!

What else can prevent your grill from burning on? Well, the weather matters a lot. When lighting the grill up in a humid place or area, the coals will go out much faster since they are predisposed to absorbing any moisture and holding it. Of course, it does not mean you can’t light a grill on a humid day! However, doing this will take you way more effort.

Don’t forget about wood

Also, if you want to know how to keep the grill lit, make sure you are using only qualitative wood that is dry. Like that, it will be burning for a lot longer. In addition, remember to add coals from time to time while grilling with charcoal! If you let all the coals burn out, it will be more difficult to restart the grill which can result in ruining the food you are cooking.

How to Keep a Charcoal Grill Going
Photo by Ben McLeod on Unsplash

Keep your grill clean

Finally, it is essential to always keep your grill clean. Remember to empty the ashtray regularly since, if it is filled with ashes, it will prevent the bottom damper from working properly. The airflow will not be strong and stable enough. As a result, the coals will not get enough oxygen, and lighting charcoal will become more complicated than normal.

Can You Relight Charcoal?

This question appears sooner or later when the newbie grillers face the fact that charcoal often remains not completely burnt out after the cooking. Fortunately, it is possible to make use of it later once again (or more, if there will be something left).

Doing this is very simple. Once you are done grilling, shut the vents off completely and extinguish the coals. It will allow you to save the maximum of coals for the next time and thus save pretty much money since you will not have to buy a new batch again!

How to Keep Charcoal Grill Lit In Wind

What if you decided to grill some food but the weather appeared to be way too windy? Well, it does not mean you have to shift your grilling for another day! Luckily, it is possible to keep your grill going in the wind, however, grilling under such conditions will definitely take you more time and effort.

So what shall you do? Here are a few handy and simple tips for you.

First of all, try to add charcoal more often to keep the fire burning non stop. Depending on how strong the wind is, you might need to make use of different amounts of coals to keep proper temperature.

Also, remember to keep the vents open all the time. And in order to prevent ashes from ending up on your food, lift the lid slowly and move it to the side. And of course, better avoid using the charcoal grill when the wind is very strong since it is not safe!

Baby Weber Charcoal Grill - Having problems keeping the fire going?Baby Weber Charcoal Grill – Having problems keeping the fire going?

How to Keep Charcoal Grill Lit Without Lighter Fluid

Using a lighter fluid is the simplest way of lighting a charcoal grill. But what if for some reason you don’t have one? No worries, we know a couple of easy tricks that will help you out in such a situation!

  • You can make use of a chimney starter
  • Opt for old newspapers to start the fire!

See, in the first case, you light up the paper placed into the chimney starter, and that fire lights the coals up allowing the heat to distribute evenly from bottom to the top. Also, since the coals are collected in a fairly small space, it allows you to keep them burning longer and protect them from any external threats like wind or water.

As for the second approach, you simply need to bunch up a couple of pieces of newspaper and leave them in the middle of a charcoal grate. Then make a pyramid out of coals around the paper, and light the newspapers.

Of course, this method will take you more time in comparison to the chimney starter, but it is pretty handy when you have no special equipment for lighting the grill up.

Like that, now you are aware of the basic methods of keeping the charcoal grill going no matter the weather and equipment you have in your disposal. If you make use of this information, grilling foods outdoors using a charcoal grill will become even simpler than it used to be!

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐How to make a fire with charcoal?

Take some paper and make a pyramid out of coals over it. Fire the paper and let it heat the coals up.

⭐How to light a smoker?

Start with some fast-burning fuel like crumpled paper or pine needles. Ignite it, wait till it burns, and push it down to the smoker’s bottom using a hive tool.

⭐How to get a charcoal grill hotter?

Open the vents to add more air and thus create a stronger fire.

Written by
Camilla is an experienced Consultant with more than 20 years of preparing professional articles for numerous online resources. She has done a tremendous job and has learned a lot during her career. Camilla will advise you on the latest trends and give amazing tips on how to decorate a house.
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