How to Light a BBQ Without Firelighters: The Ultimate Guide

When it comes to firing up your barbecue, relying on firelighters is common, but not always necessary or desirable. Whether you’re out of firelighters or prefer a more natural approach, learning how to light a BBQ without them is a valuable skill. This guide provides step-by-step instructions and tips to help you master the art of lighting your barbecue using alternative methods, ensuring a great cookout every time.

How to Light a BBQ Without Firelighters

Understanding the Basics of BBQ Lighting

Before diving into the methods, it’s essential to understand the basic requirements for a successful barbecue ignition:

  • Fuel: Typically, charcoal or briquettes are used, which need to be arranged properly for optimal air circulation.
  • Airflow: Oxygen is crucial for keeping the fire going. Proper ventilation in your grill is a must.
  • Heat source: This can be anything from old newspaper to kindling.

Method 1: Using a Chimney Starter

One of the most effective ways to light a BBQ without firelighters is to use a chimney starter. Here’s how:

  1. Fill the Chimney: Place your charcoal inside the chimney starter, filling it to the top.
  2. Ignite the Base: Use crumpled newspaper or natural fire starters like pine cones or dried herb bundles under the chimney starter. Light these materials with a match or a lighter.
  3. Wait for Ignition: It usually takes about 15-20 minutes for the coals to become hot and ash-covered. Once they’re ready, carefully pour the hot coals into your BBQ grill.

Method 2: The Pyramid Stack

If you don’t have a chimney starter, you can light your BBQ using the pyramid stack method:

  1. Arrange Your Charcoal: Build a pyramid-shaped pile of charcoal in your grill. The shape helps concentrate the heat and makes it easier for the coals to catch fire.
  2. Add Tinder: Place tinder like dry leaves, twigs, or paper in and around your charcoal stack.
  3. Light the Tinder: Light the tinder with a match or lighter. As the small materials burn, the flames will catch onto the charcoal.
  4. Let It Burn: Allow the charcoal to catch fire and wait until it’s glowing red with ash forming around the edges before spreading them out for even cooking.

Method 3: Electric Charcoal Starters

Electric charcoal starters provide a safe and chemical-free way to light your BBQ:

  1. Place the Starter: Insert the electric starter in the middle of your charcoal pile.
  2. Plug It In: Connect the starter to a power source. The electric element heats up and ignites the surrounding charcoal.
  3. Remove and Cook: Once the coals are sufficiently hot, carefully remove the starter and arrange your coals for cooking.

Tips for Success

  • Safety First: Always light your BBQ in a clear, open area away from flammable materials.
  • Patience is Key: Lighting a BBQ naturally can take longer than using chemical firelighters. Allow plenty of time for the coals to become ready.
  • Maintain Your Grill: Ensure your grill is clean and the air vents are unobstructed to improve airflow.


Learning how to light a BBQ without firelighters is not only an eco-friendly choice but also enhances your grilling experience by getting back to basics. Whether you choose to use a chimney starter, the pyramid method, or an electric starter, each technique offers a reliable way to start your barbecue. Enjoy your grilling adventures free from chemical additives!

This guide aims to provide you with comprehensive, straightforward advice on lighting a BBQ naturally and safely. For more tips on how to make your barbecue a success every time, keep exploring our site. Happy grilling!