15 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Charcoal Grill

starting a charcoal grill

Starting a charcoal grill can be a little more challenging as compared to gas or pellet grills. A few tips and tricks are sure to help you become a perfectionist when it comes to grilling with charcoal.

Read ahead to find out what you need to get your charcoal grill on. 

Tips for Starting a Charcoal Grill

1. How do you start a charcoal fire? 

There are two basic ways to start a charcoal fire. Both ways start by stacking up the coals in a little pile so that each coal is closely packed and can catch fire easily.

You can first place a newspaper tool in between the coal pile and use a lighter to light the coal on the fire, and you’re good to go.

The second is, is to spray lighter fluid on the coal pile and light it up. Both of these will work well, and you will be able to use them within 15 mins when they turn ashy. 

2. How much charcoal do I need?

This does depend on what you’re working with and what you’re working on. If you have a small grill, then using 35 briquettes of coal will be enough to fire the thing up.

The larger the grill gets, the more coal will be required to keep things got throughout the entire thing. 

3. What is the easiest way to prepare and light coal for grilling?

Charcoal nowadays comes prepackaged, and they are small bricks of coal that can easily catch fire when lit up. They’re pretty easy to light up either using the newspaper method or the lighter fluid. But the lighter fluid is quicker and will catch fire early. Do not spray the fluid on hot or burning coals since this will end up burning you with the flames.

To prepare the grill push the coals to one side and allow them to heat up and turn into an ashy grey color, and then spread them out to start using the heat. Either with a direct flame or placing metal plates on top to receive indirect heat. 

4. How long will coal in charcoal grill stay hot? 

Coals can stay hot until they do not get flooded with water. But not quite exactly. If you’re using coal briquettes, they will burn for an hour at a steady pace and may then burn out. If you’re using natural coal logs, they will stay hot for multiple hours and give steady heat. 

5. How to make your charcoal burn longer when grilling? 

You should start by spreading the coal across the grill to prevent quicker burning. You should also not use lighter fluid to light the coal since soaked coal will burn faster. You can occasionally open the lid to let the best escape and keep the coal-burning longer.

Cooking wood will also help. It has a higher heat tendency and burns more, and requires less dependence on coal. 

6. How long should charcoal burn before cooking?

Charcoal should not burn for a very long time. As soon as the coal bricks start to turn into an ash-grey color, you should know they’re good to use and will get your food taste delicious. 

7. How long does a charcoal grill stay hot?

A charcoal grill will practically stay hot for a good amount of time, but the timing is limited when it comes to cooking food.

The grill will stay hot enough for about an hour or two and have a good temperature for cooking. If you keep adding charcoal and keep the fire burning, the grill will also maintain its hotness for booking, and the BBQing session will last for a pretty long time.

8. Why does my charcoal not stay hot? 

There can be multiple reasons for this. If you are using old coal, then it will affect the type of burn the coal will give. You need to add new and fresh coals and never try to reuse old ones. You will have to stay on top of your grill cleaning game as well.

You need to clean the grill and not have any ashes remaining in the grill to ensure the coals burn better and get hotter.

You should also make sure the coal is not damp in any way, and you should also ensure that you’re not using any type of lighter fluid to light the coals.

This may be an easy method, but it’s not the best one. You should also induce as much oxygen at the beginning as possible.

Make sure your grill dampeners are open and are letting in the oxygen needed for a good burn. For the food, you want to cook, make sure you’re using the right type of heat. Either direct or indirect, it can affect how hot your coals stay. 

9. Why does my charcoal burn out so fast?

The first end foremost thing that is emery or coal is lighter fluid. It will make your coals burn out super fast, and it also does not leave a good taste in your meat.

If you keep your coal in a pile while burning, it will make it burn out very quickly. Spread your coal out, and it will stay hot and burn for a good time. Do not keep the lid closed, and make sure you open it multiple times to let the heat escape and keep things hot and ventilated. 

10. How do you control a temperature of a charcoal grill? 

The temperature effect how the food cooks and how the best will affect the cooking food. The best way to control the temperature on your grill is to manipulate the coals the way you want.

The first is to keep the coal on one side laid out on half the grill to ensure that one side is heat-free and is being circulated with hot air. The coal side will be hotter and will provide direct best. The second is to keep things ventilated.

The cooler you want things to be, you can keep the lid open constantly, and if you keep things hot, then keep the heat in and keep the lid closed. 

11. How to keep the charcoal grill at 225°F

Keeping the charcoal grill at one temperature, which is 225°F, is a little tough, but not unachievable. First things first invest in a thermometer that keeps the temperature in check.

The coal will, but you can add more coal bricks to keep things the same if the temperature is lower.

Also, regulating the temperature is the trick. You should make sure you’re using the direct and indirect heat methods—these things as the basics for keeping the temperature at 225°F. 

12. Do you leave the lid open or closed when heating charcoal?

When heating the coal, it is good to keep the lid open and let the heat out for the charcoal to burn better. This will not burn out the charcoal but maintain a good fire.

The lid closed will help smoke the meats and keep the heat trapped, though this will burn out the coal quicker than usual. 

13. Can I add more charcoal while cooking? 

One group willing session for a small grill should require about 35 briquettes of coal. You should not need more until the temperature is running low or you physically feel the grill requires more charcoal to keep a steady fire. 

14. Should charcoal be on fire when grilling?

The charcoal will mostly act as a hot base for cooking. It does not need to be on fire continuously, but the charcoal does need to burn at a constant rate to give a good char to the food.

The fire part on the charcoal will naturally be only in the start, and then the coal will be pretty much on its own. It does need to be lit up and burning but naturally does not need to be on fire. 

15. Why is my charcoal grill smoking so much?

The starting fire in coal is a cold fire that naturally burns a lot and causes smoke. When the coal is fully lit and is burning fire, there will be no smoke, but if you’re grilling something very fatty and the fat keeps dripping on the coal, it will cause a lot of smoke.

Make sure you keep the vents open and keep the grill ventilated to avoid such problems.  

16. What to do with charcoal after grilling?

You can either dispose of them by removing them in a tin box and dousing them with water. You can also put these out by individually taking them and putting them in water. You can also reuse them by spraying them with sprinkles of water to stop the burning process. Then dry the coal out completely and use it for another session. 

17. How to dispose of charcoal? 

You can start by putting the fire out by putting them in water and letting them completely cool. Then remove the substance from the grill, put it in a disposable container, and discard them in a garbage bin. 

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