How to Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket

  • Newspaper

  • Dry twigs

  • Matches (or a lighter)

You don't need lighter fluid to light charcoal.

Charcoal grilling imparts a one-of-a-kind flavor to food. Lighter fluid makes it easier to light the charcoal, but sometimes give an unwanted flavor to the grilled food. If you don't want to use lighter fluid, or you simply forgot to pick some up, the good news is that it isn't difficult to light charcoal without fluid. It will take only a little while longer than if you used lighter fluid.

Step 1

Fill a bucket with water and keep this bucket close by for emergency fire protection any time you use charcoal and other combustibles for grilling. Wad several sheets (about 5 to 10) of dry newspaper into loose balls. Place these at the bottom of your grill or fire pit in a circular pile.

Step 2

Gather small, dry twigs. Wet twigs or green twigs obviously will not catch fire easily. If you can snap a twig in half easily, it is dry enough. Twigs should be only 1/4 to 1/2-inch in diameter and no larger. Use different sizes and those smaller than 1/4-inch are suitable to add to the mix.

Step 3

Place these twigs loosely around and on top of the paper. Leave space in between and don't cover the newspaper entirely with the twigs. Keep an additional supply of twigs nearby in case you need to add these to stoke the flames.

Step 4

Place your charcoal in the center, and on top, of the pile of twigs and newspaper. Leave some of the twigs and paper sticking out from around and between the charcoal.

Step 5

Light a long match or use a long lighter and light several areas of newspaper at once. Once some of the twigs catch fire, blow gently on them or fan with your hand if there is no breeze. The air helps the fire to spread. Add some more dry twigs, if the fire seems to be slow to grow and fan it a little.