Grill, Tipps

Using the grill lighter correctly

Coal in, barbecue lighter in, barbecue lighter on and the coal doesn’t burn – what now? Here are some basics to get a proper grill glow.
Let’s start with a classic grill, there is a tub in which the coal is distributed and above it is the grill grid. First take out the grill, then layer the charcoal to a pile and spread the lighter(s) in the lower part. The first question to be answered is 3 kg or 1 kg for the start?

1kg of coal burns faster than 3kg, but one kg has to be mixed with the remaining coal. But this is a question of philosophy and has nothing to do with physics. An important basis is that the coal is dry! A bag of charcoal, which e.g. in a carport has survived a dry rainy night, can contain damp grill charcoal! A classic problem of coal bought at petrol stations or DIY stores. The coal is roofed and in a shelf, externally it looks dry, but the coal draws moisture from the environment and then does not ignite.

Flames are ignited upwards, so the grill lighter should be placed in the lower part of the coal pile. But if for example charcoal is used, it can be that this lies too close or too many small coal pieces cover the grill lighter. Then the grill lighters get no or too little air to burn properly and ignite the charcoal.

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Whether solid, liquid or as a gel: Which type of grill lighter you prefer is up to you. Always follow the instructions for use for all of them. For health reasons, many lighters must be completely burnt down before the food can be placed on the grill. The trade now also has environmentally friendly models available, for example made of pine wood, wood shavings, candle wax or sawdust. Newsprint is not recommendable: The paper ash is whirled up in the course of the time and can land in the grill meat. Flammable “grill accelerators” such as spirit are taboo.

After the grill lighters have extinguished, a few coles should glow. So that the beginning glow does not suffocate in the germ, it needs oxygen exactly now. The embers get that with the help of a hand bellows or a special hand crank hairdryer. If necessary, improvised waving with the hands or blowing is also helpful: the main thing is to ventilate the embers properly and above all continuously. Ideally, the grill should have air openings at the bottom to create a chimney effect. But of course it also works without this luxury. (to the grill lighter comparison)
Multicompressors or even soldering torches are not suitable for ventilating the barbecue charcoal – nor is the electric hairdryer: If you place it too close to the embers, it can melt – with fatal consequences.

It is important that the air supply is constant and constant, and that top sporting performance is not necessary when waving or blowing. The so-called operating temperature is reached when the coals or briquettes all glow, but do not burn. Rule of thumb: What is white also glows. With some experience or luck, the glow has already worked its way out from the source of the inner fire to the outside after ten minutes.


So-called ignition chimneys are very helpful. The structure of each fireplace is almost identical. It consists of a tube with openings for ventilation in the lower part of the fireplace, a support for the burning material at a height of approx. 1/4 and a handle with heat shield. After ignition, the ignition material sucks oxygen from the outside into the ignition chimney. The so-called chimney effect is responsible for the fact that the flames and hot gases only spread upwards and thus ensure a rapid development of the embers. Even after the grill lighter has gone out, it continues to glow evenly and quickly. Depending on the burning material and filling quantity, after 15-30 minutes you will receive a great glow that can be poured into the grill if the top layer is covered with a white-grey ash layer.

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