The best way to setup the grill


LifeTime Supporter
Aug 2, 2007
Athens, AL
I am almost embarassed about asking this..but....I need to know.

What is the best way to get started with the briquettes.

I need to learn because my wife is the griller, and since it is my pool (cleaning etc) I want to be the master of the grill too.

As you see, my neophytness precludes me from even forming basic questions....

Whoever answers this, start with...

Open the hood of the grill.....:)


LifeTime Supporter
May 1, 2008
Austin, TX
I know basic grilling from watching the hubby. He doesn't like propane, he's always been a charcoal man.

First you take the cover off the grill (we have a Weber kettle and love it). You'll see two grates. The top one (bigger)
for putting food on the bottom one (smaller) is for the charcoal. We like to use Matchlight charcoal because it's fast and dealing
with lighter fluid is a pain. Take off the top grate and put a pile of charcoal on the smaller one, Don't fill it up leave some open grate on all sides. My husband likes to have his charcoal pile a little to one side. That way theres a "hot" area for burgers and bratwurst and a cooler section for hot dogs. You'll incinerate your hot dogs if you put them on the hot end.

Light up your coals, when they are about 1/2 white your ready for the burgers. You can put them on and put the lid on with the vent open, don't leave them for too long though. When the burgers are almost done you can add the hot dogs. Thats about all I can make, hubby is starting to experiment with roasted veggies and chicken...yum.


Well-known member
May 26, 2007
Your first tip at becoming a grillmaster is never use briquettes. Use only lump charcoal. Briquettes have a bunch of junk added to them. If you HAVE to use briquettes then use the ones that aren't self starting.

IT would be helpful to know what type of cooker you have as it will make the explanation more specific. The easiest way to light coals without buying anything is as follows,

1. grab 2 pieces of newspaper and spray them with PAM or other aeresol cooking spray. Not too much just make an X inside a square like the Family Feud image when you get a strike.

2.Crumple the paper in a loose ball leaving a tail of paper which will be your "wick"

3. Throw the ball in the firebox, cover with coal but don't bury it or it won't burn.

4. Light your wick and open all the vents 100%.

Using this technique I can get 500 degrees in 5 minutes if the wind cooperates. The cooking spray helps slow the burn of the paper in case you were wondering.


LifeTime Supporter
Apr 10, 2007
Richardson, TX
I've been cooking for about 25 years on charcoal, never had a dad always used and now I do one of these:

They have them at your local hard ware store, put it on the bottom of a pile of charcoal, plug in, wait 15 minutes stir up the coals a little, 10 more minutes, perfect...and you don't have to handle the hot charcoal in a big metal thing can can start with as much or little as you want.

On a side note when I smoke meat I usually start out with lump and then start adding the wood for more of a pure taste.


Well-known member
May 31, 2008
I have never heard of an electric starter and I have been grilling food for more years than I want to count right now. I have to try that. Thank you. I usually use lighter fluid unless I am making burgers than use the one with lighter fluid in it.

I also don't know what lump charcoal is. Where do you get it and what does it look like? Would like to try it. I have always used Kingsford (think that is the name).


Well-known member
May 26, 2007
Briquettes are made with dust, and fillers then pressed together to make the wafer. Lump charcoal is real peices of wood burned in a no oxygen environment. No fillers just wood.

Here is a great resource,

As his site states 'Briquettes are the hot dogs of the fuel industry. You never know what's in the infernal things'


TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
You'll also find with lump charcoal that there is a lot less ash to deal with compared to briquettes.

I've got one of these on order.
You just light the pile in a few places, close the top with the vents wide open and in about 15 minutes you are ready to go - this is for a ceramic cooker. They hold the heat really well so it doesn't take too much to get the fire going. Normal kettle style grills may need a bit more help.

What style do you have?

They also make little gel type packages, gotten them ad Home Depot before. You just place a couple of them in the pile, light the corners and wait about 15 minutes and you are good to go. You can also use a chimney starter - put in the coals, place some newspaper underneath, light it and wait for the coals to get a white ash before adding them to the grill. Personally, I don't like the chimneys, but a lot of people do.


Well-known member
May 31, 2008
Thanks for the info. I just have a weber kettle. Don't like the chimney starter, bought one a few years ago and the ash from the paper kept blowing in the pool and then after I dumped it in the kettle didn't know what to do with the hot chimney starter because I didn't want to burn anything and the dog is usually with me so I thought it was more of a pain than anything.
Biggest problem with newspaper is that there can be lead and other toxic substances in the ink. I'm a propane fan myself but I did use charcoal for many years. I use either a tiny bit of gel type starter (essentially Sterno) or a bit of the compressed wax/sawdust starter that is available. Burns off fast, does not leave a bad taste like liquid starter, and gets the coals going great. You dont need a whole lot either.


LifeTime Supporter
Apr 15, 2008
Midland, Ontario
I use a chimney starter but instead of using newspaper, sit the chimney on the grill and use a MAPP or Propane hand torch to light the bottom. Set it on the grill, or hold it there, couple mins is all it takes. As for the hot chimney after, I set it in a steel bowl. (Old one from my old water smoker.


LifeTime Supporter
Mar 29, 2007
SE Louisiana
I don't think lead has been used in newspaper ink in several years (though I'd probably forgo the glossy, colored pages).

I've used the wood chip 'n' wax starters, the gels, the electrics, and every other type of charcoal staring method you can imagine and nothing beats a chimney and a single sheet of vegetable oil coated newspaper (Pam or any other kind) for getting a well controlled, lump-charcoal fire started quickly, cleanly, and exactly the size you want. You can start with as much charcoal as you want (a couple of big lumps for barbecue to a full load for cooking pizzas at 700+ degrees), it starts the first time every time, and you can use a stainless steel one over and over and over again for many, many years (there's nothing to wear out).

If you're getting ash in the pool, light the chimney further away from the pool. Throw the hot chimney in the grass; the dog is smart enough not to mess with a red hot piece of metal even if we humans are not.


Well-known member
Jun 21, 2008
Central MD
I'm with Kurt- except I don't even bother with the oil on the paper. Most newpapers are printed with Soy ink anymore. Fill the chimney, light a single piece of paper, and off we go.

The biggest advantage to using regular lump charcoal versus briquettes that nobody has mentioned is that you can add more charcoal to the fire at any time. Just lift the grate out of the way and throw more on. You can't do that with briquettes since you have to wait for them to ash over in order for all the nasties to burn off. When grilling for a big party, I like to grill in shift as people arrive and the food is always hot. With lump charcoal, a fresh fire is as easy as throwing some more charcoal onto the fading coals.

As far as where to put the chimney? I have a 12 x 12 concrete paver next to my grilling area where i put the chimney to start coals and where i place the hot chimney after I dump the coals. The dog stays away- but I do have to be mindful of children.


TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
The past 2 weeks with the new grill I have been using the wax and wood strike and light sticks. Two of those stuck in the coals lit up every time - cheap, easy and no mess. I used to have a chimney starter and found it to be a pain. I was using briquettes instead of lump at the time and that may have been the difference, but it never lit that easily. I'd either have to keep re-lighting or finally dump it in the grill and throw on some lighter fluid. I eventually threw it away. Again, that may have been because of the briquettes.

Sunday, I used my golf guru "golf club" starter, attached to a MAP bottle. I opened the vents, stuffed the lit club down in the coals for about 30 seconds in two places, closed the lid and 15 minutes later I was ready to cook. For my wife, I'm going to keep some of the starter sticks around, but the torch was a great way to do it. I recommend either.


TFP Expert
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LifeTime Supporter
Molson said:
I'd either have to keep re-lighting or finally dump it in the grill and throw on some lighter fluid
Never again. With the ceramic it says to never use lighter fluid anyway - I'm guessing it gets absorbed. I'm actually not that much of a purist though. As long as you let the coals burn long enough, which a lot of people don't do, the flavor of the food is unaffected. It's when people get in too big a hurry to start cooking that the food ends up with that lighter fluid flavor. :puker:


LifeTime Supporter
Mar 29, 2008
Evans, GA
I have to say that I use to HATE to even attempt to set up the grill. This was always hubby's job when we grill and we grill a lot. Since we started using the lump charcoal, I don't mind getting the grill set up and ready.

I just make a small mound in the middle and saturate real good with the lighter fluid and light in one or 2 places and the rest is on its own. It's ready in no time and the food cooks fast. In fact, you have to be careful as it can cook it to fast if you are not careful! Best of all no nast aftertaste from the charcoal.