How to Light a Charcoal BBQ

How to Light a Charcoal BBQ

We are now midway through summer and very soon the fire bans are going to end and we will be able to get back onto the charcoal barbecues! Cooking up a delicious tender smokey char-grilled steak! Please respect your local fire laws before lighting your BBQ


Before lighting any charcoal barbecue, clean out any left over ash and / or grease that has been left behind from the previous cooks.

Wipe down the grate with fresh cooking oil.


Open vents on the bottom of the grill. This lets in more air to fuel the flames.


When selecting charcoal you need to consider the quality and flavour of the charcoal as this will effect the flavour of your food.

Selecting a quality product such as 'Lotus Grill Beech Lump Charcoal' will influence the taste of the food you cook over the coals and will determine the clearness of the smoke.  



When using lighter fluid pack the coals close together in a pyramid, thus helping to increase coal-to-coal contact and help the fire spread.

Carefully squirt the lighter fluid over the coals, using only about 1/4 cup of fluid per pound of charcoal. Allow the lighter fluid to soak for 30 seconds.

Then light with a BBQ lighter.

Allow the coals to burn until they they are white on at least 2/3 of their surface and not smoking. This allows for a more even cooking.


When using a Charcoal Chimney fill the chimney with an appropriate amount of charcoal. A standard chimney holds about 100 briquettes, although you may not need that much. Fill the bottom of the chimney with newspaper or fire starters. Then proceed to light the newspaper in several spots. As the newspaper burns in the chamber below, the flames light the edges of the charcoal above.

Peek through the vents of the chimney to check if the coals have started and the edges of the coals have turned grey.

If the coals have not started, burn another piece of newspaper. You can also drizzle the newspaper with cooking oil before lighting so it burns longer.

After about 10 minutes, you will see the coals starting to glow through the vents and flames starting to flicker over the top layer of coals. Pour them out into a pile and wait until the coals are mostly covered in ash and grey in coluor. Then spread the coals out. The entire process takes approximately 15 minutes.


We at Tucker Barbecues have designed a Charcoal Chimney to be able to sit on top of a wok burner on the side of your BBQ. You can then use the jet lighter of the wok burner to vastly speed up lighting of the coals. Click HERE to collect one of your own.

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  • Brandon Jackson