How to Keep a Grill Lit: Tips for Safe and Effective Lighting

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Struggling to keep your charcoal lit for an extended period? You’re not alone. This guide quickly dives into proven methods to solve this common grilling issue. Learn how to keep charcoal lit and enjoy a flawless BBQ experience. And as a bonus, you will get our expert tips for the best BBQ experience!

How to Keep a Grill Lit: Tips for Safe and Effective Lighting 1
How to Keep a Grill Lit Tips for Safe and Effective Lighting

Gather Supplies

Charcoal Choices 🔥

  • Lump charcoal: Burns hot and quick, ideal for rapid heating.
  • Charcoal briquettes: Provides stable temperatures, making them great for some recipes.

Lighting with a Charcoal Chimney 🗞️

  • Must-have for lighting charcoal without lighter fluid.
  • Use crumpled newspaper in the center, but ensure its smell doesn’t affect the charcoal’s aroma.

Wood Chips for Enhanced Flavor 🌳

Wood Type

  • Hickory or Mesquite: Adds a strong smoky flavor, especially in a Weber kettle grill.

Ash Management for Keeping Coals Lit 🍂

As the charcoal turns into lit coals, they produce ashes. It’s essential to designate a space for these ashes to ensure your coals stay lit.

Cold Weather Grilling ❄️

  • Add firewood and kindling to your BBQ grill during colder times.
  • Creates a warm campfire-like ambiance and keeps the fire steady.

Additional Grilling Tips 🔥

Safety matches offer more control than lighters. The primary objective in grilling is ensuring the lit charcoals remain lit for the perfect BBQ every time.

How to Light a Charcoal BBQ 🔥

Charcoal BBQ with Fire Starters
Charcoal BBQ with Fire Starters

The easiest way to light a charcoal BBQ is to use fire starters. It takes approximately 40 minutes for it to heat up all the way through. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Use Enough Briquettes:
    Most people end up using too little charcoal, and the fire dies quickly. Use enough briquettes so this doesn’t happen. Read the instructions on your charcoal package; it should specify how much you’ll need for a certain period of grilling.
  2. Pile ‘em Up!
    Don’t spread the charcoal all over the grill. Instead, pile them in one spot like a pyramid. It’s better to place all the charcoal in one corner of the grill.
  3. Place All-Natural Starter Cubes:
    Now it’s time to bring out your starter cubes. Use all-natural ones, as they don’t contain any chemicals. Place them in different corners of the pile. Tuck them inside so the fire spreads all the way through.
  4. Open the Vent:
    Light up the fire starter cubes using an automatic fire starter. Then open the vent of your BBQ grill. This allows air to flow easily, making the charcoal light up faster.
  5. Start the Timer:
    Start the timer and wait for 40-45 minutes. Fire starters are easy to use, but the grill takes more than half an hour to be ready. Always plan ahead for your BBQs.

Why Charcoal Grills Go Out and Fixes 🛠️

Charcoal grills can go out unexpectedly. This can happen whether you’re using lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes.

Weather 🌦:
One main reason is the weather. Charcoal might not stay lit on humid days due to moisture in the air. Certain weather conditions can also interfere with grill temperatures.

Quality of Charcoal 🛒:
The quality of the charcoal also matters. Store your lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes in a dry space to keep them away from moisture.

How to Start a Charcoal Grill with Lighter Fluid

lighting a charcoal grill
lighting a charcoal grill

Lighter fluid is probably the most common method of lighting up a charcoal grill. Well loved by all dads around the world, this method can be quite risky if you’re not careful. Here’s how to do it safely:

  1. Arrange Charcoal:
    First, gather your charcoal into a pyramid-like shape, going from larger to smaller piles.
  2. Apply Lighter Fluid:
    Pour the lighter fluid evenly over all the coals. Be sure to read the instructions on the packaging to know exactly how much you need to use.
  3. Wait Before Igniting:
    Wait 30 seconds for the coals to absorb the liquid, and then light it up with a matchstick.
  4. Light Coals:
    You can use a grill lighter to light the coals in separate places. Once the coals are lit, don’t add any more fluids.
  5. Even the Coals:
    It might take a few minutes for the coals to catch fire. But once they do, you can spread them evenly using a stick and start grilling.

Tips for Getting Started with Charcoal Grills🚀

  • It’s important to prepare the grill for lighting.  This part needs to be done long before you start. Make sure to buy the best quality charcoal you can find within your budget. 

    If you save bucks in this step, your food might end up tasting a bit off. As the charcoal gives the smokiness, picking the right type is essential. 
  • Choosing the right charcoal includes figuring out whether you want big lumps or smaller chunks. What kind of scent do you want? 

    Whether you want hardwood oak or cedar. Certain dishes benefit from certain smokes. So, do your research on this part.
  • Arranging the charcoal is not as simple as you might think. You can’t just dump all your charcoal into the grill. You need to arrange the pieces from bigger to smaller. 

    This way, you get the best smokiness and result. The way you spread your charcoal also ensures even/uneven heat distribution. 

How to Keep a Grill Lit

how to keep a grill lit
starting charcoal grill

To keep your grill lit and achieve the perfect barbecue every time, follow these detailed instructions:

Check your propane tank

Before you begin grilling, make sure to check your propane tank to ensure it’s not empty or low. You can do this by lifting the tank and feeling its weight or using a propane gauge.

Inspect the hose and regulator

Check the hose and regulator for any damage or leaks that could cause problems with lighting and maintaining the flame. Look for cracks, dents, or any other signs of wear and tear. If you notice any damage, replace the hose or regulator.

Clean the burners and igniter

A dirty grill can cause problems with lighting and maintaining the flame. Use a wire brush to remove any debris from the burners and wipe down the igniter with a damp cloth.

Adjust the air vents

The air vents control the flow of oxygen to the burners, which affects the strength of the flame. Adjust the air vents to find the perfect balance for your grill.

Use a chimney starter

For charcoal grills, use a chimney starter instead of lighter fluid to avoid any chemical taste on your food. Simply place the charcoal in the chimney starter, light it from the bottom, and wait until the charcoal is hot and covered in ash before pouring it into the grill.

Keep the lid open when lighting

Keeping the lid open when lighting the grill allows oxygen to flow into the grill, helping the flame to grow. Once the flame is established, you can then close the lid to trap the heat and create the perfect barbecue environment.

Use high-quality fuel

Use fuel that is recommended by the manufacturer of your grill. Cheap or low-quality fuel may contain impurities or contaminants that can affect the flame and lead to a frustrating grilling experience.

Keep your grill in a sheltered area

Wind and other environmental factors can affect how well your grill stays lit. Keep your grill in a sheltered area, such as a covered patio or garage, to minimize the effects of the elements.

Store your grill properly

Proper storage is important to keep your grill in good working order. Store your grill in a dry, covered area when not in use and make sure that it’s properly secured to prevent it from falling over or being knocked around.

Take safety precautions

When lighting a grill, take safety precautions to prevent accidents or injuries. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, use long-handled tools, wear protective clothing, keep children and pets away, and never leave a lit grill unattended.

By following these detailed instructions, you can keep your grill lit and enjoy delicious barbecued meals with family and friends.

Best Practices for Grilling 🔝

Dyna Glo Grill FAQs
Dyna Glo Grill FAQs e1645726330748

For a superior grilling experience, consider these best practices:

  • High-Quality Fuel:
    Stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best fuel types.
  • Grill Shelter:
    Keep your grill in a covered area to minimize wind interference.
  • Proper Storage:
    Store your grill in a dry, safe spot and secure it against accidental knocks.

Safety First 🚫

Safety is paramount when grilling. Keep these precautions in mind:

  • Fire Extinguisher:
    Always have one nearby and make sure it’s fully charged.
  • Protective Clothing:
    Wear flame-resistant clothing and use long-handled grilling tools for safety.
  • Supervise the Grill:
    Never leave a lit grill unattended.

Core Reasons Your Charcoal Won’t Stay Lit 🔍

Understand the key factors that affect your charcoal’s ability to stay lit:

  • Moisture Content:
    Humidity can affect how charcoal briquettes burn.
  • Type of Charcoal:
    Different charcoals have different burn rates and temperatures.
  • Airflow:
    Ensure that the vents are open and free from blockages for proper air circulation.

Monitor the Temperature 🌡️

Keeping a consistent temperature is crucial for successful grilling.

  • Weather Conditions:
    Weather can affect how lump charcoal burns, so adjust accordingly.
  • Charcoal Types:
    Choose between lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes based on your needs.
  • Temperature Tools:
    Use a good grill thermometer and a charcoal chimney for consistent heat.

Maintaining Heat 🔥

Here’s how to maintain the heat in your charcoal grill:

  • Stoke the Coals:
    If the temperature drops, stoke the coals to revive them.
  • Add More Charcoal:
    Keep adding charcoal when needed to maintain a consistent temperature.
  • Adjust Air Vents:
    Control the airflow to manage the heat.

Use a Charcoal Chimney 🛠️

A charcoal chimney can make your grilling experience much more manageable.

  • No Need for Lighter Fluid:
    Light charcoal without chemical flavors affecting your food.
  • Consistent Heating:
    The design ensures even heat for both lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes.
  • Quick and Efficient:
    Place newspaper at the bottom and light it for fast heating.
  • Odor-Free:
    Avoid chemical smells that can alter your food’s aroma.
  • Weather-Resistant:
    Works well even in challenging weather conditions.

Add More Charcoal During Grilling 🔥

It’s essential to maintain the heat while you’re grilling.

  • Choose the Right Charcoal:
    Lump charcoal is ideal for high-heat grilling, while briquettes are better for extended cooking.
  • Check for Excessive Ashes:
    Clear away ashes that could suffocate your fire.
  • Add Charcoal Gradually:
    Add new charcoal around the edges and center for even heating.
  • Let New Charcoals Ignite:
    Wait for the new charcoals to light up fully before continuing to grill.

Use a Heat Baffle for Consistent Temperature 🌡️

A heat baffle can help you achieve more consistent grilling temperatures.

  • Consistent Temperatures:
    The baffle helps distribute heat evenly across the grill.
  • Protection from Direct Flames:
    Avoid flare-ups and uneven cooking with a baffle in place.
  • Efficient Charcoal Burn:
    Maintain your heat longer, reducing the need for frequent charcoal additions.
  • Weather Conditions:
    Especially useful in cold or humid conditions to help maintain temperature.

How to handle flammable materials safely

Handling flammable materials can be dangerous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Here are some tips on how to handle flammable materials safely:

Proper Storage

Store flammable materials in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. Keep them away from heat sources and direct sunlight. Make sure to label and properly seal containers to prevent leaks and spills.

No Smoking

Smoking should be prohibited in areas where flammable materials are stored, handled or used. Post no smoking signs in these areas to remind people of the danger.

Wear Appropriate Clothing

Wear appropriate clothing such as flame-resistant shirts, pants, and jackets to prevent flammable materials from sticking to clothing.

Use Proper Tools

Always use the proper tools and equipment when handling flammable materials. Avoid using tools or equipment that can cause sparks or generate heat.

Keep Flammable Materials Away from Ignition Sources

Keep flammable materials away from ignition sources such as electrical equipment, open flames, and hot surfaces. Make sure to ground and bond any equipment that can generate static electricity.

Handle with Care

Handle flammable materials with care to prevent spills and accidents. Use caution when transferring flammable materials from one container to another and always use a funnel to prevent spills.

Keep Fire Extinguishers Handy

Keep fire extinguishers nearby and make sure they are fully charged and easily accessible. Train employees on how to use fire extinguishers in case of an emergency.

Proper Disposal

Properly dispose of flammable materials according to local, state, and federal regulations. Do not pour flammable materials down the drain or into the trash.


Handling flammable materials and fire can be dangerous and may result in serious injury or property damage. The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace professional advice or guidance.

It is important to follow proper safety precautions and consult with professionals when dealing with flammable materials or fire.


Flammable materials and fire can pose a significant risk of injury or property damage if not handled properly. It is important to take proper safety precautions, including wearing appropriate clothing, using proper tools and equipment, and keeping flammable materials away from ignition sources. Never smoke or use open flames around flammable materials. Always have fire extinguishers nearby and know how to use them in case of an emergency. Improper handling of flammable materials or fire can lead to serious injury or death.

How to Keep Charcoal Grill Hot

Keep Adding Charcoals:

As you turn on the fire and the charcoal starts burning, you have to keep adding more charcoal after a certain amount of time. As the charcoal keeps burning, they disintegrate, so the quantity decreases overtime. 

Adding more charcoal helps to keep the temperature steady so your charcoal grill stays hot.

You may also like: How to Connect Natural Gas Line to Grill

Add Wood Chunks:

Many people get intimidated by woods. They don’t add wood for BBQs. Many things can go wrong with wood. You can pick the wrong type that creates a bad odor, it can be too damp. 

But if you can pick good quality wood chunks, they will help to keep the charcoal grill hot for longer. They are great at keeping the fire alive. 

Invest in a Temperature Probe:

If you are passionate about grilling, it’s smart to invest in a temperature probe. If you want to keep your grill stable and at a specific temperature level, keep an eye on the temperature prble. 

This way whenever the temp is going down, you can add a few bits of wood or change the airflow to fix it.

Create 2-Zones:

Most modern gas grills come with double grilling zones. If you want to keep your charcoal grill hot for longer, creating double zones is essential.

What it basically means is, you have to create direct and indirect heating. This helps to use your grill in a very versatile manner. You can even use it as a smoker. 

To do that, you have to move all the coals to one side after lighting them up. Put them on either the left or right side in a stacked manner. 

Then put the grill grates back on. Once the grates are in place, you will notice half of the grate is super high in temperature while the other half is moderately hot. So you can sear your steaks on the hot side for a few minutes then move it to the moderate hot side. 

This helps to not only use the coals in an efficient way, but also makes cooking faster and versatile. You will be able to cook a few different types of meat at the same time. Due to seperation, the moderate hot side remains steady in temperature which is perfect for grilling.

How to Stop Charcoal Grill 

If you are done with cooking and want to put out your charcoal grill, there is a fool-proof method for it.

You can simply close the lid. Yes it can be this easy. When you are tired and can’t be bothered, close the lids and vents on your grill and let it sit like that for a while. 

The lack of oxygen will eventually cause the fire to die. The coals however can take 2-3 days to completely cool down. This method is by far the safest way to put out a charcoal grill.

Frequently Asked Questions

01. Can I Add More Charcoal While Cooking?

Yes you can. You can definitely add more charcoal during and in-between grilling. Infact, we recommend doing so. This is a great way to keep the temperature steady. 

As you cook, the colas start to disintegrate. Longer grilling can cause them to decrease in amount. So adding a few scoops of charcoal in between grilling can actually help. 

We recommend doing it in smaller amounts. Instead of adding a big portion of charcoal, divide it in 3-4 parts and add them in a closed interval. This way the temperature won’t suddenly drop due to cold charcoal. 

02. Can I Pour Water on My Charcoal Grill? 

No matter what you do, never pour water directly on hot charcoal. Yes it will definitely put out the fire but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. 

The thermal shock of drastic temperature change can cause your grill to crack. This is not  a joke when grills are so expensive to begin with! 

Another issue with pouring water over hot charcoal is the sudden cloud of steam. It can be hazardous and cause your eyes to water severely. 

Then after all this imagine the cleanup you’ll have to do. You’ll have to remove all the charcoal from the grill, clean the bottom of the grill very thoroughly to remove the ash and water. It can get very messy. So why bother?

03. Does Closing the Grill Make It Hotter? 

Contrary to popular beliefs, closing the grill does not make it hotter. In fact, it cools down the coals and turns the temperature down. 

The misconception probably comes from traditional cooking. When you are cooking on the stove and you put a lid on a pot, the inner temperature increases because the air can not get out. In grilling however, the opposite happens.

This is due to the vents underneath the grill. Those vents provide oxygen which causes the coal to burn faster. The faster the coal burns, the higher the temperature gets. 

So when you put a lid on, the air can jto pass through cand the charcoal starts too slow-burn. It’s a great way to smoke your food as the temperature remains steady and low.

04. Why Does My Fire Keep Going Out on My Grill? 

If your fire keeps going out, chances are there isn’t enough air ventilation going on. Fire needs oxygen to stay lit and hot. Without sufficient air, the coals will eventually die out. 

So make sure the vents underneath your grill are open. Another thing to focus on is to not use damp coals or wood. 

Damp coals might lit up but they won’t stay lit for longer. So make sure the charcoal is bone dry. 

05. How Can I Save Unused Charcoal?

After you have coveted your grill and killed the fire, a good amount of charcoal can be left inside. Keep in mind the charcoal keeps burning until they cool down completely. So you might not have enough salvageable colas left. 

But if you do, there is a way to save them for next time. Fill up a metal basket with cold water and then dunk the charcoal in the water. Wear a heat-proof glove and use metal tongs to move the charcoal around. 

Grab each individual charcoal and dunk them in the water for 60 seconds. Then transfer them to somewhere with enough air. 

Allow them to dry in the sun. When they are completely bone dry, store them in an airtight container until needed. 

06. Is It Better to Leave Grill Open or Closed?

This depends on what kind of meat you are cooking. If you are grilling thin cuts of meat, you don’t need a longer period of time to cook it. 

So you can keep the lid open. The high temperature will grill the mat within a few minutes. 

But if you are grilling something large like a brisket or ribs, it’s better to close the lid to let it cook for longer. When you close the lid, the temperature remains steady and low. 

So you won’t have a piece of meat that’s burnt on the outside but raw on the inside. 

To End

Keeping the temperature of your charcoal grill consistent is a very tough job. It takes a long time for grill enthusiasts to master this skill. As it’s one of the integral parts of barbecuing, knowing how to keep a grill lit is super important. 

Hopefully with our easy guide you were able to grab some useful tips and hacks. Now tell us, what method do you use to light up your BBQ? 

After you’ve successfully kept your grill lit and enjoyed a delicious meal, it’s crucial to know how to safely extinguish the charcoal. Learn the proper technique by reading our guide on how to put out a charcoal grill.

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