The Detailed Guide On How To Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid

How to light charcoal without lighter fluid, you wonder?

How To Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid featured

In this article, we’re going to recommend to you the four most effective lighting methods in our opinion. 

Some methods require supporting tools; some others do not. You can freely opt for the one that suits you the most in terms of budget, availability, and preference.

How To Light Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid?

First Option Chimney Starter

What Is A Chimney Starter?

A chimney starter is basically a cylindrical metal block that resembles the shape of a chimney. There is nothing fancy about its mechanism since it activates the fire using some kind of kindlings (mostly paper towel).

A Chimney Starter
A Chimney Starter

In other words, you light the charcoal with the physical reactions happening inside the metal tube instead of relying on an automatic device.

Essentially, the tube’s role is to gather the briquettes or charcoal into a joined pile so you can light them up from one end. Once the fire ignites, it will spread throughout the chimney body, making the tube’s bottom gasp for more air and have to start fanning itself. 

For that reason, it can start the fire in seconds and keep the fire burning for such a long time.

If you find this method interesting, but no chimney starter comes in handy, you can make one for yourself with just some easy-to-find materials. 

All it requires is a metal stovepipe of 7-inch in diameter, a wooden handle of the same length, and a glue machine.

How To Light Charcoal Using A Chimney Starter?

Step 1: You put two sheets of newspaper covered with foil under the bottom end of the tube.

Step 2: Once the tube is filled with papers, you pour the charcoal (or briquettes) into the tube from the top of the chimney. 

The amount of charcoal you fill in the tube will decide the strength and stability of the fire. For that reason, with foods that require strong heat, the charcoal should fill up most of the pipe’s body. 

On the other end, you let the charcoal take up less than half of the tube for a slower, minion cooking style.

Step 3: Next, you set charcoal on fire through the hole at the chimney’s bottom.

Step 4: After about 15 minutes, you can see the coals have started turning red. You wait for a few more minutes until the charcoal at the top turns to a light gray shade and dump them on the charcoal grill.

Top Charcoal Turns Gray
When The Top Charcoal Turns Gray, It’s Time To Dump Them In The Grill

Pros And Cons


  • A budget-friendly alternative
  • Straightforward, easy to use
  • Quick to light
  • Chemical-free to be better for our health


  • Not suitable for kamado grills since its surface is too shallow

Second Option: Using Fire Lighter 

What Is A Fire Lighter?

A fire lighter is a small-sized tablet used to start the fire. Its composition includes lignite and liquid hydrocarbons (mostly kerosene). These chemicals are the master of prolonging the burning time and keeping the fire at a sustainable height.

A Fire Lighter
A Fire Lighter

To strengthen the fire, wooden sticks covered with paraffin wax or compressed pasteboard are the best kindlings you can opt for. They don’t leave as many ashes after the grilling as pieces of newspaper do and are completely non-toxic.

How To Light Charcoal Using A Firelighter?

Step 1: Stuff the charcoal grill with a certain amount of coals or briquettes.

Step 2: Fill the top of the charcoal pile with paraffin wax or a few pieces of cardboard. It would be best to use wax instead of paper since the wax doesn’t leave any ashes to cling to the food surface and affect its look.

Step 3:  Hold the light lighter above the charcoal pile, and set light to them.

Pros And Cons


  • The most suitable option for the inexperienced
  • Budget-friendly 
  • Easy to use
  • Lights the charcoal fast
  • Keeps the fire for up to 20 minutes


  • Burning time is not as sustainable as the other methods

Third Option: Using The Looftlighter 

What Is A Looftlighter?

Compared to the three other tools, looflighters pride themselves on the sleekest, most up-to-date appearances. 

A Looftlighter
A Looftlighter

From the first glance, their construction resembles a hair-curling machine. There is a cylindrical unit covered by an aluminum heat shield, an air inlet, an on/off button, and a power cord to connect with an electricity supply. 

However, the mechanism of this tool has nothing in common with hair stylers. Essentially, the tube’s body, which has tiny holes spread evenly throughout the surface, is responsible for generating heat to light charcoal. 

The air inlet positioned beneath the hole-filled body is in charge of creating air to direct the heat towards the briquettes or charcoal.

Simply put, this small-sized, compact unit works as both a heater and blower at the same time. Thanks to that, it can produce an airstream of up to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit to ignite the fire in less than 60 seconds.

How To Light Charcoal Using A Looftlighter?

Step 1: Prepare a power source near the grilling area to plug the looftlighter’s cord in.

Step 2: Depending on the cooking style and grilling time, pour a certain amount of charcoal or briquettes into the grill’s base.

Step 3: Position the head of the looftlighter above the charcoal pile and push the power button to activate the tool. 

Step 4: When you notice some sparks appearing, it means the charcoal has caught fire. However, try not to retreat the looftlighter immediately. Instead, we suggest you keep it about 1 inch away from the charcoal grill’s base while maintaining its initial direction.

Step 5: After one minute, the charcoal will have reached the perfect heat level. It’s time you turned off the tool, unplugged the cord, and started grilling your food.

Pros And Cons


  • Generates heat the quickest among the three others
  • Doesn’t need any kindlings
  • Can light the charcoal after one minute
  • Straightforward construction, beginner-friendly


  • Needs a power source to work
  • On the high-priced side

Fourth Option: Using Electric Charcoal Starter

What Is An Electric Charcoal Starter?

An electric starter is an automatic heating element that can ignite the fire without the support of any kindling. Its construction is fairly straightforward and minimal. It includes a power chord, an ínulated plastic handle,  a heat-generating charcoal grate, and a heater loop. 

The mechanism behind the unit strikingly resembles an electric stove burner. The heat initially comes from the grate and will be gradually transferred to the coals through the heater loop. 

Simply put, the loop is where all the generated heat will concentrate to set fire to the charcoal pile. 

Besides the oval loop shape, the charcoal holders can have different configurations, such as a spatula or round shape. Sometimes, the loop will be replaced by a pot to hold a larger amount of charcoal or briquettes. 

How To Light Charcoal Using An Electric Charcoal Starter?

Step 1: Position the heating element directly on the grill grate while keeping the handle on the outer edge.  

Step 2: Now, you pile the fresh charcoal between or on top of the heater loop. If you have a large pile of coals, it would be best to separate them and light a smaller portion at once.

Step 3: Once the coals are inserted into the loop, you plug the starter’s cords in.

Step 4: After about 10-15 minutes, you can see some fire beginning to kindle. Hold the light starter a little further away from the cooking grate, and wait for 15 more minutes. When the hot coals have turned into a light gray color, you can pull the tool out and unplug it.

Pros And Cons


  • The lighting process is safe
  • An economical alternative to lighter fluid
  • Requires no kindlings
  • Chemical-free for better food taste
  • Simple to use


  • Needs an electrical outlet

Things To Keep In Mind When Lighting Charcoal Without Lighter Fluid 

Avoid Using Gasoline Or Petrol As A Lighter Fluid

As you might have known, lighter fluid mainly makes up of alcohol-based chemicals. They are strong compounds, but their invasiveness is still within the safety threshold. 

However, gasoline is such volatile, flammable fluid. It can cause an explosion if you pour it into a burning charcoal pile. Also, it gives off an unpleasant flavor that can give the food chemical taste and negatively affect our health.

Lighter Fluid And Gasoline Can Leave Residual Flavor To The Foods
Lighter Fluid And Gasoline Can Leave Residual Flavor To The Foods

For that reason, it would be best to opt for the non-chemical charcoal lighter, like the four methods we recommend above. 

Following The Fire Safety

No matter which method of lighting charcoal you choose, it is imperative to strictly follow fire safety. Here are some of the most useful safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Educate yourself about lighter fluids and use them with extreme caution.
  • Do not pour gasoline or petrol into a burning fire.
  • Keep a safe distance with the grilling grate since the inconsistent fire can cause severe burnings.

The Bottom Line 

If you have reached the end of this post, hopefully you have learned how to light charcoal without lighter fluid

There are plenty of methods that you can opt for, but in this article, we recommend to you some of the most effective ones based on our experiences. They are charcoal chimney starters, firelighters, looftlighters, papers, and electric starters. 

All in all, take care, and remember to drop by in the future!

Roger Lee
Roger Lee

Thanks for visiting my website. My name is Roger Lee, and I am a 30-year-old man with a hybrid blood of Chinese and Russian. I decided to set up this site to share with everyone my love and passion for open-air cuisine. It all started when my parents opened a restaurant and I had the chance of getting exposed to the art of outdoor cooking.
This website aims at sharing about my hobby, recipes, and tips for cooking to everyone. Try them out and tell me about your experience.