How to light a BBQ with firelighters: best way to light a bbq with firelighters

Chances are you’re using a charcoal bbq or food smoker (maybe even for the first time) and looking for the best way to get your bbq started without being completely smoked out, or worse, failing to get your charcoals alight all together! That’s where bbq firelighters step in. The process is pretty straight forward and in a few short steps we will have you up and running. But before we start a fire there’s a couple of things to point out.

It’s always decent etiquette to knock on the neighbours and let them have a bit of warning to bring in their washing. The other important point to note is safety. Have a water source nearby in case something goes wrong and always handle fire responsibly! Sorry for that, it just needed pointing out before we move on to using bbq firelighters:

How to light a BBQ with firelighters:

  1. Decide if you want eco firelighters or your standard chemical firelighters
  2. Lay your charcoal or wood into the bbq
  3. Place a few firelighters amongst the coals or timber
  4. Light the firelighters carefully with a match or safety lighter
  5. Wait for the firelighters to burn away thoroughly before cooking to avoid cooking with chemicals
  6. Top extra tip! Check that your charcoal is white embers before cooking – it’s possible the charcoal is laced with paraffin so you want to burn that off as well

1. Decide if you want eco firelighters or your standard chemical firelighters

Natural firelighters tend to be a bit more expensive and smoke a little because you need more to get them going in practical real life application. That said, there’s something romantic about using natural products where possible and it certainly feels nicer knowing you’re about to throw your bangers on top of these fifteen minutes later. With that said, the chemical Zip type firelighters are very safe to use and clean – just make sure that they are completely burnt off before you attempt to cook anything.

In my opinion I prefer the eco firelighters are home on my charcoal bbq, whilst if I was out on a picnic or at the beach I would go with Zip firelighters for my portable charcoal bbq as they smoke less and catch fire faster. If you’re using a bbq smoker and smoker wood chips then you are probably going to want to go with a natural firelighter. I’ll warn you though a natural firelighter took me by surprise, it smoked like mad to the point I panicked and put the lid down which only made things worse 😀

Eco firelighters can be seriously smokey.

Also make sure the charcoal is natural and not laced with chemicals. More on that in point 6 – the bonus tip!

2. Lay your charcoal or wood into the bbq

It doesn’t have to be clever, just lay everything into your bbq or if pouring charcoal from a bag, throw it in, don’t be precious about this process as we will disturb it straight after anyway!

3. Place a few firelighters amongst the coals or timber

With your charcoal or timber/ wood chips stacked in simply lift up some coals toward the base and inside the pile and then place in your firelighters. It says to use a couple if going with Zip normally but in practise I use more. I am not advocating using more 🙂 I am just saying that I do and that works for me nice and quickly, if in doubt, just follow the manufacturer guidelines to ensure that you stay fit and healthy. The less firelighters you use, obviously the better the value!

4. Light the firelighters carefully with a match or safety lighter

I like to use a match, I just strike one up and lay it on top of each firelighters shard. It’s so easy to repeat the process and your firelighters catch and take very easily. The other safe option is to use a safety fire lighter. This keeps your fingers much further from the flame. Make sure you light the firelighters furthest from you and work toward yourself. This way you won’t burn yourself so easily!

5. Wait for the firelighters to burn away thoroughly before cooking to avoid cooking with chemicals

Whether you go for the eco natural firelighters or the chemical variety, ensure that they are fully burnt before you begin to cook. I know I keep banging on about this but the last thing you want is to cook your food in chemicals!

6. Top extra tip! Check that your charcoal is white embers before cooking – it’s possible the charcoal is laced with paraffin so you want to burn that off as well

The same applies to charcoal. Sometimes they put firelighters or paraffin – some similar product that helps get your charcoal going. Make sure that you check for this and ensure that your bbq charcoal is white embers. This helps to make sure that again, you are not cooking in chemicals. It sounds trivial but if you didn’t know this information then it would be extremely easy to make the mistake!

That’ll get you going and its certainly the best way to light a bbq with firelighters that I am aware of!


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

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