How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid?

It’s grilling time, and you want to create memories for yourself and your comrades. As usual, you put everything in place for the occasion, including the charcoal grill, ingredients, charcoal starter, e.t.c. Now, the next thing will be to start your grill. But what if you don’t have any way to do it. Can you light charcoal without lighter fluid in that case?

Actually, yes! In fact, there are plenty of alternatives for lighting a charcoal grill without liquid fluid. But which method is the most effective? And how to do it? That is what we’ve decided to find out!

So today, we would be glad to share with you some good ways how to light charcoal without lighter fluid, and what you will need to do for it!

Lighter Fluid: What It Is And Why We Avoid It?

Lighter fluid is an aliphatic solvent from petroleum used for lighting a charcoal grill. Although the initial purpose was for lighting charcoal, some people use it for different purposes like jump-starting campfires or lighting up thrush because of its flammability.

Despite being the most convenient and easy way, lighting up charcoal without lighter fluid is the most recommended way. And here’s why:

Firstly, lighter fluid is a chemical, which is already a reason to limit your exposure to it. After all, lighter fluid poisoning is nothing new. Second, there’s a risk that the fluid will tamper with the taste of your food, especially if you’re new to this, and accidentally add more than needed. And third, you will save some money by lighting charcoal without lighter fluid.

And not to mention that there have been instances when liquid fluid exploded! The NBC news report below shows why light charcoal without fluid is a great thing:

A Denver man in his mid-30s had been using a charcoal grill. But It wasn’t getting hot enough, so he decided to pour lighter fluid on the coals to get them going. Unfortunately, the coals were already lit, the fluid exploded, and the man received head-to-toe third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body. He did not survive.”

Methods to Light Your Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid

Looftlighter Method

The looftlighter uses the heat and blow principle that ignites charcoal by directing superheated air towards them. And if you want the fastest way to start a charcoal grill without lighting fluid, it’s the best thing.

The fantastic thing about this method is that you’ll get a combination of lighting charcoal and a bottle opener from the in-built stand.

And here is how you can light a charcoal grill with looftlifter: 

  1. Snap-in the looftlighter.
  2. Orient the lighter tip to the base of the charcoal pile and ignite by pushing the button.
  3. If you see sparks or glowing coal, hold it an inch back, pointing at the same spot.
  4.  60 seconds are enough for your coal to ignite. Turn your lighter off.
Pros Cons
  • No chemicals
  • It has an in-built bottle opener
  • It is the fastest method
  • Electricity needed
  • Very costly

Electric Charcoal Starter

The electric charcoal starter is another great method how to start a charcoal grill without lighter fluid. This device is ‘U-shaped, with a handle that has the same principle as an electric stove. Though fast, it is safer than chemicals. 

And here’s what you’ll need for lighting charcoal with this method:

  1. With the handle outside and the burner element at the base of the grill put a pile of charcoal on top.
  2. Plug in.
  3. Unplug and remove the burner after the coal begins to glow.

It’s also important to note that this method is convenient for a smaller fire. 

Pros Cons
  • Sure way
  • Fast
  • No chemical
  • Need electricity

Charcoal Chimney Method

In case you never knew, the charcoal chimney is a metal tube used for holding your briquettes or coal as you ignite them from beneath. And it is also a wonderful and simple way to light charcoal without fluid.

And here is how you can do it:

  1. Place two sheets of paper at the bottom of the chimney
  2. Fill the chimney with charcoal or briquettes or halfway for the minion method.
  3. Light the newspapers after placing the chimney at the grill bottom.
  4. Carefully dump the chimney in the grill after the top of the charcoal begins to ash over and spread them.
Pros Cons
  • No chemicals or electricity
  • Not costly
  • Works all the time
  • Difficult to use in narrow grills because of the side handle

Paper, kindling, charcoal method

This is probably the most cost-efficient method how to start charcoal without lighter fluid. It involves building a fire to light the coal, and here’s how you can do it:

  1. Make the base of the fire With a layer of briquettes or charcoal.
  2. Place several sheets of paper at the center.
  3. Criss cross dry, smaller sticks over the sheets of paper.
  4. Put a handful of charcoal on top and light the paper.
  5. Once the charcoal lights, build your fire.
Pros Cons
  • No chemicals
  • Cost-efficient
  • Slow
  • It needs patience and skill
  • Difficult to do when it’s wet
  • Tedious

Egg Carton

You use what you have; that cardboard box that came with your eggs isn’t useless. Here is how to put it back to use:

  1. Place charcoal or briquettes in the exact place where eggs were after removing the carton lid.
  2. Fix the loaded carton in the cooking chamber and light all the cardboard corners. As it burns, it will ignite the coal.
Pros Cons
  • Cheap
  • No chemical
  • Slow
  • Challenge in wet conditions
  • It can only work with small fires

Methods to Avoid  


You might achieve the desired results with gasoline, but that’s not the best option on how to start charcoal without lighter fluid. Unlike lighter fluid, gasoline is highly flammable and may be even more hazardous.

Pros Cons
  • Very fast
  • Can get any fire going    
  • Leaves chemical residue on food
  • Dangerous
  • Hazardous, if not stored well

Lighter Fluid Method

Maybe the rainy season has made your charcoal go bad and you wanted a foolproof method to light them up. The only convenient way that first crossed your mind is lighter fluid. But as you might have understood already, for your safety and the taste of food, it’s a much better idea to learn how to light charcoal without lighter fluid. 

Pros Cons
  • Can work in wet conditions
  • It’s fast 
  • Imparts the food with a chemical taste
  • Can be a health or even life-hazard


 So do you need lighter fluid for charcoal? No! There are much better and safer alternatives that will prove to be just as effective and won’t be as dangerous! But which method you might choose is up to you! Or perhaps you know some other ways how to light charcoal without lighter fluid? Then feel free to share your knowledge in the comments below! 

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