Properly Lighting Charcoal

For the BBQ purists among us, there is no other option other than natural lump charcoal when it comes to choosing your heat source. Man people scoff at charcoal because they believe it adds a nasty, bitter chemical and ashy taste to the meat. There is a reason for this and it should never be a problem with properly used, high quality charcoal. Let's get down to it.

The first thing we need to make sure of is that we are using high quality charcoal. Take those preformed and chemical laden briquettes and throw them into a bonfire. There are only two choices when it comes to charcoal; natural lump hardwood and coconut shell charcoal. Check out some of the countless review sites you can find online to make sure you are getting a high quality product. You don't want any scrap lumber or unknown chemicals in your charcoal. Not only will these add nasty flavors to your meat, but they could be harmful in ways that we don't yet know about. Using only completely natural charcoal without chemicals is the best way to avoid this.

Don't use any lighter fluid or charcoal starter. This is just adding in the nasty chemicals we tried so hard to avoid. All you need is a charcoal chimney, old newspaper and some olive oil. All of this is best done over your grills as to reduce mess. The process is simple. Pour a very small amount of olive oil onto a couple sheets of newspaper and roll them into a rough tube. I am talking about an 8th of a teaspoon at the most. Make sure to roll so that the oil ends up inside the tube. Bend this into a circle and stuff it in the bottom of your charcoal chimney. Place the charcoal chimney into your grill and fill it with your favorite charcoal. Light the newspaper through the vents at the bottom of the charcoal chimney and leave it alone. Once the charcoal is showing signs of red just under the top layer, it's time to turn the chimney over and let your grill heat up.

I can also suggest replacing the newspaper with blocks of paraffin wax. These are very efficient, but not as inexpensive as old newspaper that you probably already have lying around. Treat these in much the same way as you would the newspaper. The major difference is that you want to arrange the paraffin blocks first, light them and place the charcoal chimney over them. These can be found in almost any place that has charcoal grills for sale and they are also marketed as stove fuel for camping.