How to Light Charcoal Grill Without Lighter Fluid or Chimney

You might think that you have no other option than to light a charcoal grill without lighter fluid or a chimney starter. Well, we are here to tell you that you are wrong. The charcoal grill is very easy to handle and you are going to know why we made such a bold statement. Contrary to popular belief, charcoal grills can be lighted in several ways. We have made a list of ways in which it can be done. Take a look. 

Use Newspaper 

  • The first way in which you can get a charcoal grill to light up without a chimney starter or lighter fluid is to use a newspaper. Yes, this is a rather conventional way of doing things but whatever floats the boat. What did people use to do when there was no chimney starter or lighter fluid. People had been cooking on charcoal for ages. We are not the first ones to do so and they have been starting the charcoal on fire without the fancy materials.
  •  Just use the old newspapers that you have at your home to do the job for you. However, the newspaper method is not very consistent so it is now taken as a fallback option rather than the main one. Here is how you use it :

Step 1 : Open the bottom vent of the grill. If you have not cleaned it then you need to clean out the bottom of the grill.

Step 2 : Now you need to crumble up two or four pages of the newspaper and place them in the middle. Make sure that there is enough space to allow the air to flow through the paper.

Step 3 : You need to place small dry twigs at the top of the paper. 

Step 4 : Then place the lumps of charcoal on the paper and twigs.

Step 5 : Ignite the paper with a matchstick and being paper it is readily going to catch the fire. 

Step 6 : Add on more pieces of coal when the fire starts to build up. 

Use Cardboard Egg Crate

This is also a common way of lighting charcoal that has been in use for a long time. If you know the cardboard egg crates then we are sure you have some lying around at home. The cardboard acts as dry twigs that can be used to light up the charcoal. How are you going to do so? Well, we are going to explain it to you in simple terms 

Step 1 : Take the cardboard and then remove the upper portion of the box. 

Step 2 : Place charcoal briquettes in every chamber on the box. The place where the eggs used to be placed is now filled with charcoal.

Step 3 : Infinite each corner of the lid when you place it in the grill and then close the lid.

Step 4 : When you are placing it on the grill you need to give it time to burn. You also need to make sure beforehand that the cardboard box is dry.

Step 5 : Add on more charcoal briquettes to the top of the burning ones. 

Use Whiskey 

We know that you are thinking, that's not a good idea! However, let us tell you that you can easily light charcoal using whiskey. It might seem to be a reckless move but it is not. Just like lighter fluid, whiskey works in the same manner. You can call it an alternative to lighter fluid too. It does not leave any unpleasant smell in your food and that is the best thing. It has high sugar and alcohol content so it is also going to evaporate pretty easily. The sugar decomposes very fast in the fire and it gives off a flammable and safe chemical that can be used to light the charcoal easily. 

When you are using whiskey to light the charcoal you are going to find the process very easy :

Step 1 : Load your grill with charcoal and briquettes. 

Step 2 : Compress a few paper towels.

Step 3 : Douse the paper towels in whiskey.

Step 4 : You have to place these towels in between the grill and your charcoal.

Step 5 : Carefully drop a match on the towels to light them. You have to be careful while doing so because we do not want any accidents to happen. 

Use Paraffin Wax

  • Paraffin wax is known to be used to light the charcoal when in a chimney starter but not many people are aware of the fact that it can be used on its own too. You need to have an open mind when it comes to grilling. This special wax comes in many forms. You can find it in form of cubes, compressed cardboard, or coated wood chips. 
  • There are some people who believe that paraffin wax is toxic but that is not true. The wax is odorless and it does not have any toxic elements in it. It is also eco-friendly and you are not going to face any problems with your dish. It is the perfect way of lighting a gas grill when you do not have a chimney starter or lighter fluid. The biggest advantage is perhaps the fact that you can light it even when it is wet. That's not something you can say about a lot of fire starters.

Step 1 : Place paraffin wax at the bottom of the grill. It should be under the pile of charcoal. 

Step 2 : Light the paraffin wax and as it burns it is going to light up the charcoal.

Use Looftlighter

A heat gun or a loft lighter is a good option. This is a special gun that you can buy at the market. It is not that expensive so you do not have to waste a lot of money on it. It emits superheated air from the gun to the directed spot at the push of a button. The concept is very good and these lighters come with a long handle so they are safe to use too. Here is how you use the lighter if you have never done so before

Step 1 : Plug the heat gun into a power outlet.

Step 2 : Direct the heat gun to the bottom of the charcoal in the grill. Press the ignition button. You might have to do it a few times before you can see the ignition.

Step 3 : Then you need to repeat the step a few times to get the charcoal around to light up properly.

Step 4 : Unplug the heat gun from the power outlet. 

Use Electric Charcoal Starter

  • The electric charcoal starter is not something that is readily available. You need to buy this and many people tend to go to the other options rather than this. However, we are still going to include this in the list. So what is the electric charcoal starter? It looks like a looped metal coil that resembles a heating element that you might have seen at the top of the stovetop. This is specifically designed for grills that use charcoal as fuel and BBQ appliances. 
  • It might not be fast as an electric heat gun but it sure gets the job done. You are going to get a lot of uniform heat when you are using the electric charcoal starter. Take a look at how you need to use it 

Step 1 : Load the grill with charcoal. You can use the amount of charcoal that you are going to need for the entire cooking process.

Step 2 : Create a pile of charcoal and place the electric charcoal starter at the bottom of the pile. 

Step 3 : Plug the starter into a power outlet. You need to wait for the charcoal to start glowing. It is not fast and it needs a bit of patience. You might need to wait around 20 minutes before the charcoal is properly lit.

Step 4 : Remove the coil. 

Use Pine Cones

Yes, you read that right. You can use pine cones as a starter for charcoal. It might be true that not everyone can have easy access to pine cones but many people find pine cones just laying around in their garden. This can prove to be a good way of lighting the charcoal. You can say that the pine cones are starters found in nature. Make sure that you pick one that is dry and not green. You can flatten them a little for easier use. 


 It is true that the lighter fluid is a much easier method of doing things. You can easily light the charcoal in a matter of minutes. However, this can not always be the case since people may run out or not have access to it. These alternative methods can get you out of the sticky situation.All you need to do is take whatever is handy and then make the best use of it.  Take care and we do hope that you can enjoy the grilling time with your friends and family without any hassle. Have a good day!