How to Prepare Coals for a Barbecue

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Fire up the barbecue and grab the burgers! It's prime time for sizzling once the coals are covered with white ash.

Things You'll Need

  • Lighter Fluid
  • Barbecue Grills
  • Charcoal
  • Charcoal Lighters
  • Barbecue Tongs
  • Read the instructions that came with your barbecue grill.

  • Purchase a large bag of charcoal briquettes and a large can of charcoal lighter fluid.

  • Stack charcoal briquettes in a pyramid shape near the center of your grill and douse the charcoal evenly with about 1/2 cup lighter fluid for each 2 lbs. charcoal, or as instructions direct.

  • Let the lighter fluid soak in for about 1 minute, then, using a long fireplace match or a butane barbecue lighter, put a flame to the soaked pile of briquettes.

  • Let briquettes burn for about 30 minutes until they are covered with white ash.

  • Using long-handled tongs, spread briquettes evenly over the bottom of the barbecue and begin cooking.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you have a gas or electric grill, you don't need to use charcoal.
  • One hundred percent charcoal works best.
  • You can avoid using charcoal-lighter fluid by using a metal chimney starter - a cylinder in which you pile the coals on top of a grid, add newspaper under it and light the paper. Or you can use an electric starter. Both are available where grilling supplies are sold.
  • Putting charcoal-lighter fluid on coals that are already hot may cause a dangerous flare-up.
  • Use only charcoal-lighter fluid - not gasoline or other flammable liquid - to start a cooking fire.

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