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How Much Charcoal is Used When Grilling over a Folding Fire Pit?

May 29, 2023 4 min read

Using charcoal in your collapsible fire pit is a great way to get an authentic smoky flavor in your favorite barbecue foods. Knowing how much charcoal to use when cooking different foods will not only save you money but it will help you maintain an efficient fire. Using too much charcoal can waste valuable fuel. Use too little and your fire pit will have a hard time getting hot enough, or you won't be able to maintain the temperature until you're done cooking. So, how do you know how much charcoal to use?

How much charcoal do you need to get started?
When it comes to deciding how much charcoal you need to get started, it can fluctuate due to many factors. These factors include the type of charcoal you are using and how you intend to start your barbecue. Most methods only require 4-5 pieces to start your barbecue. Although it only takes 4-5 pieces to start your fire pit, you will need to prepare more to get the pit hot enough to cook with, usually with enough fuel to form a layer at the bottom of the fire pit or to fill the chimney. You may also need to add extra coals to the foldable fire pit to keep it at a constant temperature during the cooking process. So keep a lot more charcoal on hand than you think you'll need so you don't get stuck.

Add Extra Coals to the Foldable Fire Pit

Does the type of charcoal affect how much you should use?
To understand how much charcoal to use, you must also consider the type of charcoal. Essentially, there are two kinds of charcoal: briquettes and natural lump wood charcoal. Charcoal briquettes and lump charcoal burn differently, ultimately affecting how much charcoal you will need for your BBQ session. Usually, lump charcoal will allow you to burn faster and hotter. However, briquettes burn longer. Therefore, your camping bbq fire pit will need less lump charcoal to reach high temperatures when grilling. If you use briquettes, you will need more briquettes to reach high temperatures.

Does the food you grill affect how much charcoal to use?
Another factor you should consider as you are deciding how much charcoal to use in your folding fire pit is the type of food you are planning to cook. Since there are a plethora of options for your grilling desires, you will need to adjust the amount of charcoal to accommodate. Whether you are cooking burgers or brisket, you will need to know just how much charcoal to start with and how much it may take for the entire meal. Some foods don’t require as much fuel since they cook low and slow, however, those that you are intended to cook fast may need much more fuel.

For example, if you are attempting to sear meat or just want it cooked faster, you will need to use a larger amount of charcoal. If you are using a chimney to measure, this means that you would fill it. However, if you are cooking fish or other tender meat, you may only need to fill the chimney or charcoal pan halfway or maybe a little more. This will allow you to cook the meat at a slower pace to avoid burning the food. When you are planning to cook something low and slow, you should always have extra coals to add later on hand, so fill the pan or chimney the first time around and ensure you have a few pieces or briquettes set aside for later.

Barbecue on a Folding Fire Pit

Should you setup your charcoal in a particular way?
To make the most use out of both your fire pit and the charcoal you are using, you should consider the various setups for laying out your charcoal. One of the most popular setups for placing your charcoal in the fire pit is called the two-zone grill setup. Creating a two-zone cooking setup is easy. All you do is heap up your charcoal on one side of your fire pit. This creates the ‘hot zone’ on which you cook with direct heat. The other side of your grill is the ‘cool zone’ that cooks with indirect heat. Mastering this method gives you complete control over the temperature of your favorite foods on the folding bbq fire pit.

How to know when charcoal is ready?
Simply measure how many seconds you can hold your hand over the lit coals. Hold your hand 1-1 1/2 inches over the folding fire pit cooking grates, then count how many seconds go by as you are holding your hand over the coals before it becomes too hot to handle. 5-6 seconds is low heat, 4-5 seconds is medium heat, 3-4 seconds is medium heat and 2-3 seconds is high heat. If you cannot keep your hand over the coals for a second, the grill is too hot. Nevertheless, the accepted standard is to let charcoal burn until they are ashed over, which takes approximately 5-10 minutes for high heat. You can usually achieve a medium-high cooking temperature in 25-30 minutes.

Ways to Know When the Charcoal in the Folding Fire Pit is Ready

Overall, there are many factors to consider when it comes to how much charcoal you should use in your fire pit. Depending on the type of charcoal you decide to use and the various foods you plan to cook, the amount you use can vary greatly. Of course, you can also get some tips on how to keep charcoal burning longer in a folding fire pit, thus saving you money.

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