What’s the easiest way to light a charcoal barbecue?

Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter briquettes

We’ve all been there. The sun’s out, your guests have arrived, you’ve served them all drinks and now everyone’s expectantly looking forward to some delicious barbecue food. But what if the coals won’t catch? What’s the best way to get flames firing fast? Use our handy tips, tricks, advice and guidance to ensure you get your grill going first time, every time. Read our guide to What’s the easiest way to light a charcoal barbecue and come on baby, light that fire…

Chances are when you first started barbecuing, it was a case of building a pile of charcoal in the centre of the grate, dousing it liberally with lighter fluid, chucking in a couple of matches and standing well-back until the flames had died down enough for you to cook over. Things have moved on in the fire lighting game since those days. Not only can drowning your coals with lighting fluid be dangerous, it can also impart an unpleasant taste to your food. This is no longer a recommended approach.

Armed with the following knowledge and essential BBQ accessories, it is now easier, more reliable and straightforward, not to mention safer, to ignite a barbecue.

What you’ll need

  • Weber Premium Lumpwood Charcoal or Weber Charcoal Briquettes
  • Weber Lighter Cubes
  • Weber Lighter
  • Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter, Rapidfire Compact Chimney Starter (for a portable BBQ), or Rapidfire Chimney Starter Set
  • Weber BBQ Leather Gloves

A little background to our recommended products

Made by slowly burning wood with restricted oxygen, Weber Premium Lumpwood Charcoal heats up quicker than briquettes, burns at a higher temperature and burns for a shorter period of time. It is great for quick cooks and high-heat searing, which both require the hottest temperatures. So if you’re throwing burgers onto the grate or searing some steaks we’d recommend lumpwood.

For longer cooks and indirect cooking, we recommend Weber Charcoal Briquettes as these burn at a cooler temperature and burn for longer. Briquettes produce an even heat, which is useful in longer cooks when lumpwood might produce flare-ups or burn food. Weber Charcoal Briquettes are manufactured in a similar way to lumpwood, using compacted waste wood and are 100 per cent natural, containing carbonised wood. So for cooking food which requires longer than 30 minutes on the grate like roast chicken or pulled pork you want to choose briquettes.

All Weber lumpwood and briquettes are from responsibly managed forest, so you know they’re better for the environment as well as being great for cooking with.

Weber Lighter cubes are the best shortcut to red hot coals, helping you light your barbecue quickly and with no mess. They are fast to light, ash-free and environmentally safe.

The Weber Lighter has an adjustable flame, a child lock, and we recommend it as a reliable and safe way to get lighter cubes lit without getting your fingers burnt.

The funnel design of the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter directs flames up and through the coals for the fastest and most dependable way to start up a barbecue. Weber also make the Weber Rapidfire Compact Chimney Starter for portable barbecues. The RapidFire Chimney Starter is the key to fire-starting success as you’ll see later on.

For handling a scorching Chimney Starter, we recommend the Weber BBQ Leather Gloves which are a comfortable, effective and safe way to protect your hands when handling BBQ tools.

All of this equipment is perfect for use with any brand of charcoal barbecue.

The easiest way to light a charcoal barbecue:

  1. Remove the lid of the barbecue and fully open the air vents underneath the bowl
  2. Choose the cooking method and fuel that best suits what you are barbecuing, either lumpwood for direct or briquettes for indirect
  3. Fill the Rapidfire Chimney Starter with charcoal. Refer to the chart below for a helpful guide of how much charcoal to use for the selected cooking method and size of barbecue
  4. Place lighter cubes on the grate. Smaller barbecues may only need 1 cube, whilst larger barbecues may need up to 3
  5. Place a Rapidfire Chimney Starter over the lighting cubes and ignite them from underneath through the holes in the bowl using either a Weber Lighter or matches – watch those fingers
  6. After about 10-15 minutes the charcoal will be hot enough to use. You can tell if it’s ready when the flames have reached the top of the chimney starter and the uppermost layer of charcoal is covered with light grey ash
  7. Put on the BBQ gloves and carefully shake the coals into the grate. Beware of wayward sparks, remember you’re playing with fire here
  8. Don’t forget to preheat the grill for around 10-15 minutes. You are aiming to reach around 260 to 290 degrees centigrade on the oven thermometer
  9. Don’t forget to put the hot chimney starter somewhere safe to cool down, where it won’t be bumped into by children or pets
Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter
Advice For number of Briquettes Needed on a BBQ
Weber-recommended quantities of briquettes needed for various barbecues

If you have any questions about the range of BBQ grills we stock, or have any barbecue-related queries just give us a call on 01664 454309 with anything you’d like help with, or come and see us in-store and we can chat through the options with you. Gates Garden Centre has plenty of Charcoal Barbecues, in a variety of styles, sizes and price points to suit your needs.

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