Even with the proliferation of propane, natural gas, or other gas-fueled barbeque grills, old-style charcoal barbeque grills still remain a popular and economic cookout option. Charcoal barbecue grills are far less expensive than gas grills for the most part, and they are not as inconvenient to use as many who have converted to gas grills believe. You need only know the right way to use charcoal BBQ grills.
BBQ charcoal grills come in several variants, from the traditional large pan type to the small tabletop or large on-casters kettle type and back to the smaller, square Japanese-style hibachi. When choosing your charcoal grill, be sure its ventilation is sufficient enough to allow proper air to spread your cooking fire around the coals evenly.
To prepare your fire, pile charcoal briquets into a pyramid at the center of the grill. If you have a kettle charcoal grill, there should be a smaller grill toward the bottom of the kettle, above the ventilation holes, on top of which you can pile the pyramid. Some hibachis also feature that lower grill. If you have a large pan-style grill, simple pile the pyramid in the middle of the pan.
After piling the briquets, coat them liberally with lighter fluid. You should see a glossy sheen on the coals for a few seconds after you do this. Allow the fluid to soak into the coals before you light two or three single coals, either with a match or a long-nosed propane-fueled lighter. If there is too much breeze to keep these coals lit long enough to spread around, you can spray a very small amount of lighter fluid over their small flames. That should be enough to begin spreading the fire around the coals.
Normally, depending on the size of your cooking fire and how much you plan to cook, it should take only fifteen minutes for the flames to dissipate and the coals to begin turning white as they heat completely on their inside. Spread them evenly and closely around your cooking area. When your coals are almost completely white, you can begin cooking your hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, or other barbeque foods.
However, many people prefer not to use petrochemicals to light BBQ grills charcoal. If you are one of them, there are two methods you can use. One is a chimney made from a gallon can with several half-inch holes drilled into the sides approximately half an inch from the bottom. Place a few crumpled sheets of newspaper into the can, leaving one or two ends to protrude when you place the can over your coal pyramid, and light those ends. Leave the chimney on the coals for approximately ten to fifteen minutes, then remove the chimney safely and spread the coals evenly and closely around your cooking area.
The second such method is an electric barbeque fire starter, usually made of a long or wide coil similar to an electric stovetop burner's coil, shaped in a loop. If you use one, be sure its electric wire is long enough not to have to set your grill up next to your home, or use an extension cord.
Place the starter into the charcoal BBQ grill first, then pile your charcoal on top of its coil. Leave it under the coals a few moments after the coals ignite before unplugging the starter and removing it from the grill very slowly. Let the starter rest on the nearest concrete ground to cool off completely; do not leave the starter resting on wood, on grass, or against your home.