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The Unconventional Guide To Light Lump Charcoal

It is time to open up that back door and get that grill out. Let’s start grillin’ up some ribs or a juicy piece of thick lean beef. What is the best way to cook those juicy chunks of meat? The all “natural” way, lump charcoal. Will it be apple, cherry or coconut wood?

Hardwoods makes great lump charcoal. It adds mouth-watering unprocessed wood fire flavor to grilled meat, vegetables and seafood. Different charcoals add different tastes and aromas to the food. Natural wood charcoal not only has no additives, but it is the fuel behind the flavor. It is environmentally friendly because it is made with renewable hard woods. Natural lump charcoal burns hotter, burns clean, it produces very little ash. Fire from lump charcoal can get the coals heated up to cooking temperatures in as little as 7-10 minutes, thus making it a perfect choice for searing the flavor in the meat.  

But one question, how do you light lump charcoal? Basically, there are 3 methods for lighting lump charcoal. Getting out to the grill with lump charcoal and a torch does not really count as it is not a preferred safe method. The commonly recognized preferred safe methods are:

  1. Charcoal Chimney
  2. Charcoal Starter Square
  3. Looftlighter

Each of these methods is effective in firing-up the charcoal. Making it ready to grill tasty BBQ. Here is some additional information and step by step instructions for each method of how to light lump charcoal: 

1. Charcoal Chimney

What is a charcoal chimney? It is a “chimney shaped” metal tube that has a handle. The metal tube has an upper compartment and a lower compartment. A charcoal chimney and heat resistant gloves are required for this method. Other supplies needed are matches or lighter, paper, lump charcoal, and a fireproof tool to spread hot embers and ash. Now for the directions:

  1. Fill the bottom compartment of the chimney with crumpled up newspaper.
    • It is important to make sure there is air in the crumpled paper and that the paper is not compressed. Oxygen is needed in this compartment for a successful fire starter.
  2. Add the lump charcoal to the top of the chimney.
  3. Light the paper on fire 
  4. Watch the lump charcoal heat up (approx 10-20 minutes).
  5. Wait until the fire has subsided, look for red glowing embers
  6. Use heat resistant gloves to move Chimney to grill
  7. Pour charcoal on the bottom of the grill
  8. Use the fireproof tool to spread the red embers and the charcoal evenly on the grill

2. Charcoal Starter Square

In the second method fire starter squares are used. These are squares made of compressed wood chips and wax. The squares are designed to start fires both indoors and outdoors safely. Whether they are wet or dry, fire starting squares a made to burn about 8-10 minutes just enough time to get the fire started. Charcoal starter squares and a fireproof tool to spread around the hot coals and the ash required for this method. Now for the instructions: 

  1. Pile up the charcoal under the grate of the grill. Leave a round, hollowed out area in the middle of the charcoal. 
  2. Make sure to allow space for air flow when stacking the charcoal. Oxygen is needed for the fire to start successfully. 
  3. Put the starter square in the center of the hollowed-out area. 
  4. Make sure that the charcoal is evenly distributed around the hollowed-out area. 
  5. Note: If a large amount of charcoal is needed for the area of the grill cooking surface. Be sure to leave several hollowed out areas spaced as evenly as possible. This will help to ensure an even cooking surface.
  6. Light the starter square with a match or lighter. Let it start to burn. 
  7. Then place starter square inside the hollowed-out area of lump charcoal
  8. If there is more than one hollowed-out area, continue to light starter squares until there is one placed in each hollowed-out area. 
  9. Wait 10-20 minutes until the fire has subsided and embers are glowing red with some ash. 
  10. Use the fireproof tool to spread the charcoal evenly under the food grate. 

3. Looftlighter Method

This is the only method that does not require starting a flame or fire. The charcoal is started with an electric hot air rod. Within seconds, burning hot air comes out of the rod. The hot air reaches temperatures of 110 F (600 C). This hot air rod is designed to start the lump charcoal in 3-5 minutes. This method Requires an electric Looftlighter hot air rod and a fireproof tool for spreading the hot coals and the ash. Now for the instructions: 

  1. Loosely pile lump charcoal in the grill 
  2. Touch the charcoal with the tip of the looftlighter for 10-15 seconds
  3. Wait for sparks or a glow to appear (it will happen quickly) 
  4. Pull back Looftlighter tool still focusing on the same charcoal 
  5. Continue heating the same charcoal for at least 60 seconds
  6. The charcoal will be on fire 
  7. Wait for the fire to subside and glowing embers appear 
  8. Take the fireproof tool and spread embers around the bottom of the grill

Summary

These step by step methods on how to light lump charcoal are not only helpful for the beginner BBQ Master. All the way up the BBQ Chef Ladder to the all-around BBQ Grand Master can find these tips useful. While each method requires collecting some supplies, all of the methods will get that fire started. Get the supplies and following the instructions, will produce flaming, red, hot coals for searing flavor, taste, aroma and juice into a prime cut of meat, fresh seafood. Putting some fire to the lump charcoal is just the beginning of some fine backyard dining. 

The best way to start lump charcoal is the preference of the individual starting it and the supplies on hand when the grill is calling. Get that fire started! Start those ribs, steaks and burgers cooking over those fired-up coals! Do not forget the veggies. Smell the lump charcoal burning, it is almost dinner time!

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