Best Tools for Lighting Charcoal

Jason Webster
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There are hundreds of grilling cookbooks available, but there aren’t any charcoal lighting guides out there except this one, which we’ve written for those of you who are tired of fiddling with matches or lighter fluid.

We’ve tested many methods and found that using a propane torch can be fast, easy, and precise, with no risk of flare-ups. This video shows you how to use a torch without getting burned.

And if you’re not a fan of the torch, use this detailed guide to find out how to light your cooking charcoal with a chimney starter, which is arguably the most popular method used by grillers worldwide.

Red Dragon VT 3-30 C 500,000 BTU Heavy Duty Propane Vapor Torch KitBest OverallRed Dragon VT 3-30 C 500,000 BTU Heavy Duty Propane Vapor Torch Kit
Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney StarterBudget PickWeber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter

1. Red Dragon VT 3-30 C 500,000 BTU Heavy Duty Propane Vapor Torch Kit

Our rating: 9 / 10

Red Dragon VT 3-30 C 500,000 BTU Heavy Duty Propane Vapor Torch Kit

Check Price on Amazon


  • Large tank capacity
  • Cold-start ignition
  • 90% heat efficient
  • Long burn times
  • Complete tank working pressure
  • 0.20g/h fuel consumption
  • Flame dial for flame control
  • Propane ignition


  • Very large and bulky
  • Pricey
  • Relatively slow compared to other options

If you want to take your grilling to the next level you need to get yourself a propane burner or a propane grill to create a roaring flame from fuel charged with propane.

The Red Dragon works with propane and natural gas, even diesel fuels to create a powerful flame for enhanced grilling. It is easy to use and designed to help users create a brilliant flame without the hassle of charcoal.

Using the vapor torch, grillers can control the flame size, heat output, and even cold start ignition for easier starting and for adding flare to your foods.

2. Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter

Our rating: 7 / 10

Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter

Check Price on Amazon


  • Lightweight
  • Individually wrapped


  • Small size but can be made to work
  • The seams can break apart pretty easily

If you’re looking for an effective and easy to use charcoal starter, then the Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter is for you. It is another best-selling charcoal starter on the market and for a good reason; it gets the job done without any hassle.

It features a non-stick surface inside the coal chamber, making cleanup and serving the charcoal a breeze. It is compact, portable, and lightweight and features a sturdy design that will last for many years.

This inexpensive charcoal starter is a very easy to use, and it will get your charcoal ready in about 20 minutes. The quick lighting briquettes are included along with a measuring cup. It is the perfect companion if you are constantly using charcoal in your grill. This product works with any heat source.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best way to light charcoal?

There are a few ways you can start your charcoal. You can either lay one fire starter on top of the briquettes or wrap a fire starter around the briquettes before spreading them out.

Another method is using a chimney starter, which is simply a metal cylinder with an opening on top and a handle. To use the chimney starter, pile the briquettes in and fill up an inch above the top with charcoal lighter. Light the charcoal on top and wait for 10-20 minutes for the briquettes to get hot.

Don’t put the lid on while you wait, it’ll speed up the process, however, it will also burn the briquettes and make them produce toxic gases! Once the briquettes are ashed over, you’re ready to dump them in your grill.

What can I use in place of lighter fluid for charcoal?

Modern day chemistry has allowed for many common household objects to light charcoal. Here are some household items that can be used as alternatives to lighter fluid.

Start with Newspaper – Light newspapers in a four-layer pattern, placing the newspaper in between each layer of charcoal. The paper should burn completely before adding food to the grill.

Scrap wood – scraps of wood are a cheap and clean alternative to lighter fluid.

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when dealing with charcoal in a fireplace, grill or firepit.

Never leave the grill unattended – Be sure to remain close by your grill or fireplace at all times when it is in use. Do not leave it alone. It is a high-risk activity and should only be done in safe and controlled conditions.

What is the best electric charcoal starter?

There are a lot of options you can choose from but it all boils down to 2 things; affordability and convenience.

The convenient one is the electric charcoal starters. They use electricity to power a heating element that provides the best and smoothest heat to your charcoal, and they start them perfectly.

However, they’re not so cheap! They are the most expensive among the other options.

If you can’t get an electric one, you can get a charcoal chimney starter instead. Because they are built to hold and light the charcoal, they are very convenient. They’re usually big, about 14 inches tall so you can easily use them in your backyard.

What can I use to light charcoal without lighter fluid?

If you are nervous about using lighter fluid with its adverse effects on the environment, then don’t worry! There are other safe and convenient ways to light your charcoal quickly.

The best way to light charcoal without the use of lighter fluid is to use Newspaper. Wrap the paper tightly around the charcoal and pour in a small amount of hardwood or fruitwood. Then light and place into the grill.

We recommend that you burn the newspaper just like the charcoal. When charcoal is at its peak temperature, toss the paper into the charcoal to burn. When you want to turn the charcoal off, place the lid over the flames. In no time, your charcoal will be fine to cook with.

Another easy and convenient way to light your charcoal without using lighter fluid is with a BBQ Chimney. These are a must-have to any charcoal griller! Using a BBQ Chimney will get your charcoal to cooking temperature in less than 15 minutes.


A grill is a wonderful appliance for any patio or deck, and it’s an even better accessory when the right tools are available to use with it. After all, the right accessory, even if it’s not necessary, makes a task quicker and easier, and more enjoyable.

The Weber Stainless Steel Barbecue Tool Set comes with a set of tongs, fork, spatula, and a brush, all made of stainless steel.

The Weber Stainless Steel Tool Set is a beautiful addition to any patio or deck, and each tool is a trustworthy, high-quality grill accessory.

Our Recommendation

Red Dragon VT 3-30 C 500,000 BTU Heavy Duty Propane Vapor Torch KitBest OverallRed Dragon VT 3-30 C 500,000 BTU Heavy Duty Propane Vapor Torch Kit
Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney StarterBudget PickWeber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter