How Many Firelighters to Light a BBQ? A Comprehensive Guide

When it comes to firing up your barbecue, the number of firelighters you use can significantly influence both the ease of lighting and the quality of the burn. Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a novice, understanding how to effectively use firelighters is essential for a successful BBQ session. This article provides a detailed look into how many wood firelighters you should use for your barbecue, ensuring that you can achieve a perfect fire every time.


Understanding Firelighters

Firelighters are small, combustible blocks designed to simplify the process of lighting charcoal or wood. These are typically made from materials like wax and sawdust, which catch fire easily and sustain a flame long enough to light the larger fuel pieces. They are especially useful in avoiding the frustration that often comes with trying to start a barbecue.

Factors Influencing the Number of Firelighters Needed

The number of firelighters required can depend on several factors:

  1. Type and Size of Barbecue: Larger grills or smokers will generally need more firelighters due to the greater amount of charcoal or wood.
  2. Weather Conditions: On windy or damp days, you might need additional firelighters to combat the elements and get your charcoal burning.
  3. Type of Charcoal: Some types of charcoal, like lump charcoal, catch fire easier than others such as briquettes, which may require more firelighters for effective lighting.
  4. Desired Cooking Temperature: More firelighters mean a faster and hotter burn initially, which is useful if you’re aiming for high-heat grilling.

Recommended Number of Firelighters for BBQ

As a general rule of thumb, starting with three to four firelighters should suffice for a standard-sized barbecue. Arrange these firelighters evenly beneath your charcoal stack or around your wood to ensure a uniform burn. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to using firelighters effectively:

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Firelighters

  1. Prepare Your Grill: Clean out any old ash which could impede airflow and stack your charcoal or wood as recommended by your grill manufacturer.
  2. Place Firelighters: Position three to four firelighters evenly spaced under the charcoal or around the wood. If using a chimney starter, place the firelighters at the bottom.
  3. Light the Firelighters: Light each firelighter. You should ensure that each one is burning properly before proceeding.
  4. Allow Charcoal to Ignite: Leave the grill uncovered, and allow the firelighters to burn and ignite the charcoal or wood. This usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Check Readiness: Your coals should be ashed over (white on the surface) and emitting a steady heat before you begin cooking.
  6. Adjust as Necessary: If the fire seems too weak or is burning unevenly, you might need to add an additional firelighter to the areas that are not igniting well.

Safety Tips

When using firelighters, always keep safety in mind:

  • Never Add Firelighters to an Already Lit Grill: Adding additional firelighters after the fire has started can be dangerous and is not recommended.
  • Store Firelighters in a Dry, Secure Place: Keep them away from children and pets.


Mastering the use of firelighters for your BBQ is not just about the number you use, but also how and when you use them. By following the guidelines provided in this article, you can ensure that your next barbecue is both safe and successful. Remember, starting with three to four firelighters should generally be sufficient, but feel free to adjust based on your specific conditions and needs. Happy grilling!

By adhering to these recommendations, not only will your BBQ be a success, but you’ll also optimise your use of firelighters effectively and safely. Whether you’re hosting a small family gathering or a large party, the right approach to lighting your barbecue can make all the difference.