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How to Light a Charcoal Portable Fire Pit?

May 19, 2022 4 min read

Having an outdoor portable fire pit is a comfortable way to gather with family or friends. Whether you like the taste of grilled vegetables or the charred flavor of steak, there's no denying that grilling gives your food that classic "grilled" flavor. You can use charcoal in your fire pit. Charcoal is wood that burns in oxygen-deprived areas, but it can still burn more and produce heat, making it a great option if you plan to cook in a fire pit. Knowing how to use a charcoal fire pit is an essential summer skill. Thankfully, it's not difficult. Once you understand the basics, lighting charcoal is very easy because fire is highly contagious. Keeping charcoal together will help the fire spread easily and allow you to use them more quickly. Below, you will find a list of some of the popular ways so as to easily start the perfect flame.

Lighter liquid
Lighter fluid is easy to find at grocery stores around the area, and this method is perfect for getting started with charcoal portable bbq fire pit. To use lighter fluid, follow these simple steps:

  1. Pile the charcoal into a neat mound shape or arrange them in a pyramid shape. This will help increase the contact between the charcoals and help the fire spread.
  2. Spray a moderate amount of lighter fluid on the charcoal pile and use a barbecue lighter or a long-nosed match to light the charcoal evenly in several places. To do this, you will need to spray the lighter liquid evenly over the top and sides of the charcoal pile and immediately follow the lighter liquid direction and light. Allow the charcoal to absorb the lighter liquid for 30 seconds before igniting. Do not attempt to spray lighter fluid onto hot or burning coals.
  3.  Wait until there is a fiery residue before using coals. Once the lighter fluid burns off, the edges of the coals will turn gray as the ash spreads to each coal. Once most of the pile is covered, the coal is ready to be spread and used.

The entire process takes about 15 minutes. Use only the recommended lighter fuel, not kerosene or gasoline. Gasoline is very flammable and its use in a barbecue can cause many problems such as fires.

Light the Charcoal Fire Pit with Lighter Fluid

Charcoal chimney starter
The chimney starter looks like a large coffee can or an upright metal box with perforated dividers inside. This simple device most often uses newspaper to light charcoal. It is designed to keep the coals above the flame, so the edges light up faster and ignite adjacent coals. You can follow these steps.

  1. Fill the chimney with the appropriate amount of charcoal needed. A standard chimney should hold up to 100 briquets of charcoal; however, you may not need that much. If you want a high temperature of about 450°F to 550°F, then you will need to use a full chimney. For medium heat from about 350°F to 450°F, you should use half to three-quarters of the chimney, and if you are looking for low temperatures from about 250°F to about 350°F, a quarter of the chimney will be sufficient.
  2. Add a fire starter and light it. You can add one or two pieces of old newspaper as instructed in the chimney starter. Light the newspaper in several places, and as it burns below the flame, it will ignite the charcoal edge above. You can peer through the vent to check that the coals have started to burn and that the edges are not turning gray; if not, you can burn another sheet of newspaper. You can also pour some cooking oil on the newspaper before lighting it, so that it will burn longer.
  3.  When you see a flame or glowing embers at the top, pour out the coals. After about 15 to 20 minutes, you should see the coals start to glow through the vents and some flames flickering at the top. Then you pour out the coals on the portable outdoor fire pit again and wait until most of the pile is covered and the coals are ready to be spread out and used.

Light the Charcoal Fire Pit with Charcoal Chimney Starter

Electric charcoal starter
An electric ignition is another option for starting a charcoal portable fire pit. This method requires that you have an electrical outlet nearby, which can be done using an extension outlet obtained from a store. A starter needs to be plugged in to start the charcoal fire. An electric charcoal starter has a metal ring that you can place over some charcoal and then cover completely with more charcoal.

  1. Lay your charcoals on the grill and arrange them in a pyramid shape. Plug in your electric igniter and place your nose directly into your coals. It will begin to heat up immediately.
  2. Once the sparks start, pull the lighter a few inches away from the pyramid. Keeping the igniter a few inches away from the chimney, move it and heat the charcoals until the fire starts. Remove the starter.
  3.  Once the charcoals are completely white, spread them out and add the grate. This process may take about 8 to 12 minutes. Once the embers begin to glow, the starter can be unplugged, removed and safely stored.

Electric starters light charcoals a little slower than open flames, but when you start your grill with an electric charcoal starter, you will not need lighter fluid, newspaper, matches or a lighter.

Light the Charcoal Fire Pit with Electric Charcoal Starter

Whether you prefer a lighter, a chimney or an electric starter, once you've mastered a method you can easily light a charcoal portable bbq fire pit and enjoy bonfires and barbecue parties with friends and family!

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