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How to Start a Grill

Updated on July 17, 2011
Grilled steak photo: Another Pint Please @flickr
Grilled steak photo: Another Pint Please @flickr

Be Safe When Grilling and BBQ

Grilling is a different way to cook. It gets you out of the kitchen. It's a lot of fun, and many people enjoy grilling as a hobby. However, sometimes people aren't as cautious around the grill as they are inside the kitchen using the stove or oven.

But keep in mind that you are dealing with extreme temperatures and fire. One of the most dangerous activities when grilling is actually starting the fire. Here are tips for how to light a grill safely, both charcoal grills and gas grills.

How to Start a Grill Safely - Prep First

First off, before starting to grill, inspect your surroundings. Are there any tree branches hanging too closely? Is the ground stable with no nearby holes to trip you? If it is windy outside, check these conditions even closer. Often tree branches or plants will be whipped around in the wind right into your fire. Make sure you place the grill somewhere safely away from buildings or structures, just in case.

Next, start with a clean grill. Remove any leftover charcoal or ashes. Scrub the rack if it needs it. Open the vents on the bbq grill.

How to Start a BBQ Grill - How to Stack the Charcoal and How Much to Use

The best way to place charcoal in a grill is in a triangular, pyramid shape. This allows circulation that is needed to feed the fire oxygen. You will want to start the fire about a half hour before you start grilling.

A basic guideline is about 25-30 pieces of charcoal for every pound of meat. But this depends on the conditions at the time. If it's really cold, windy, or even humid, more charcoal will be required.

How to Light a Charcoal Grill With Lighter Fluid

If using lighter fluid to light a grill, read the instructions. The basic steps for using lighter fluid are to pour lighter fluid on the charcoal. Wait a couple of minutes for it to be absorbed by the charcoal, then use extra long matches or a grill lighter to light the charcoal.

Buy a Chimney Starter to Start a Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

How to Use a Chiminey Starter to Light a Charcoal Grill

You can also start a fire in the grill with a chimney starter. Chimney starters aren't for impatient people, however. They are effective, but they take awhile. First, take off the grill grid. Put the chimney starter in the center of the grill. Crumple up newspaper and put into the bottom of the chimney starter. Then put charcoal in the top. Light the newspaper. Walk away and let the chimney starter do its job. It takes about a half hour. After that, carefully pour the hot coals out onto the bottom of the grill. Use sturdy mitts!

Buy an Electric Starter to Light Your Grill

How to Start a Grill With an Electric Starter

If you have access to an electrical outlet, you can use an electric starter to light your charcoal grill. Just put the starter in the middle of the charcoal. Plug it in. After about 10 minutes, the coals should be hot. You will know when to unplug the starter by looking for ash forming on the coals. When you unplug the starter, be sure to put it somewhere away from kids and pets, and anything flammable. It will be extremely hot for awhile.

When Is the Charcoal Ready?

How do you know when the charcoal is ready? In the daylight, look for most of the charcoal to have turned a smoky gray with ash forming. At night, you can tell when charcoal is ready because it will start glowing. When the charcoal is ready, spread it out using long bbq tongs

How to Start a Gas Grill

Next is how to light a gas grill. You should light a gas grill about 15 minutes before you start to grill. Turn the burners on high heat. Keep the lid closed.

The most important thing to do when starting a gas grill is to open the lid first. If you don't gas could build up. Check that all of the burners are turned off next. Then turn on the gas.

Gas grills with automatic ignitions usually need one burner turned on before turning the ignite button. You will hear the gas as it lights. If it doesn't work, light the grill through the ignite opening, usually on the front of the grill.

Don't try it repeatedly. If it doesn't work after about a minute, turn off the burner. Wait at least 5 minutes before trying to turn it on again.

How to Use a Chimney Starter Video

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