There are a lot of various activities that folks participate in to celebrate out nation’s independence every July 4, but one that virtually everyone partakes in is grilling. These days, there are a slew of people that use propane grills to make their respective Fourth of July feast, but believe it or not, there are still those that prefer charcoal grilling to that of gas.
Maybe, you might want to give charcoal grilling a try for the first time this July 4th. If you are, you’re immediately going to see that lighting your charcoal grill isn’t as easy as just pushing a button.
Lighting a charcoal grill is a strategic process that, when done correctly, will surely have those burgers, hot dogs and steaks tasting a lot better than if they were cooked over some gas.
With that, here’s a look at how you can get that process started:
Lighting a Charcoal Grill
- The first step to lighting our charcoal grill is to remove the lid and cooking grate, so that the bottom charcoal grate is accessible.
- Next, open the bottom grill vent all of the way to get air to our charcoal.
- Now I will let you in on the first (not so) secret weapon to lighting our charcoal. Weber makes a product called the Weber chimney starter that makes lighting charcoal easy and really speeds up the process of burning all of the coals down to get them ready for cooking. Simply fill it up with charcoal and then create a fire under the cylinder to light the coals. The chimney starter holds just the right amount of coals to cook a standard 22 and 1/2 inch kettle or similar grill. If you have a smaller 18 inch grill, fill the cylinder to about 3/4 full.
- If you don’t have a chimney starter yet, no problem. Dump coals onto your charcoal grate until you have enough to cover the entire surface, two coals high. Now rake or move all of the coals to the middle of the grate and create a pile so that they are all touching and can light off of each other.
- Now we need a fire source! The fire source is the second product I recommend from Weber. I still use crumpled up newspapers in a pinch, but I love the Weber firestarter cubes. The cubes are available at all of the big box stores for about $7 for a box of 24. Simply place 2 of the cubes underneath the full charcoal chimney or under the outside edges of your charcoal pile and then light them with a match. The cubes will light immediately when you touch them with a match and burn long enough to get the coals going.
- If you don’t have the cubes yet, loosely roll and ball up three pages of newspaper and tuck them under the pile or chimney starter and then light with a match. You can even spray the newspaper with a little cooking oil to make it burn longer.
- Let the charcoal burn down until all of the coals have a layer of white ash. This should take up to 15 minutes.
- If you are using the chimney starter, put on protective gloves and carefully pour the lit coals onto the charcoal grate.
- Using gloves and long handled tongs, spread the coals into an even surface about 2 coals deep for nice, even direct grilling.
- Alternatively, if you are grilling thicker cuts of meat (more than 2 inches thick), create a layer on one side of the grill about 3 coals high and then a layer 1 coal high throughout the rest of the grill. This will give you a nice, 2 zone cooking area.
- Replace the cooking grate, open the vents on the lid and cover the grill until you are ready to cook!