How to light a charcoal or wood barbecue? 

We know that lighting a barbecue is always an adventure from which not everyone is equally successful if they do not have prior knowledge. So take note, because we are going to explain the best way to light a charcoal or wood barbecue in a simple way. 
Place the barbecue well

how to light a charcoal barbecue?

how to light a charcoal barbecue?

How to light a charcoal barbecue ?

Lighting charcoal and firewood are very similar but have some peculiarities, we explain both, first charcoal and then firewood.

Place the barbecue well

First of all, the barbecue is well located. Even if you want to avoid it, it is possible that an ember will jump out, and this could cause some damage to what you have around and could even cause a fire if it were to more. Therefore, it has to be located away from branches, trees or any other plant element.

The surface of the soil should be firm, level and, if possible, be brick or on a sandy surface without any vegetation. Also avoid being near windows, so that smoke does not enter the house.

What will you need to be able to light your charcoal barbecue?

Before getting to work, you will need to have some things prepared so that you do not have problems when starting the barbecue.


One of the essential elements to be able to light the fire in the barbecue is to have a good charcoal, in this case charcoal. But now comes the most important question, how much will you need? Well, this will depend on the type of food you are going to cook, since it is not the same to make vegetables than meat or fish.

Let's say you want to make a meat barbecue, since the amount of charcoal that you would need for four people would be a bag of 3 to 5 kilos. If it is for vegetables, with 1-2 kilos you will have more than enough. Fish is more or less similar to meat.

Diary paper

Although it is not strictly necessary to use it to light charcoal on a barbecue, it is always good to have it on hand just in case. Remember, always newsprint, because it works better as fuel than magazine paper.

Vegetable oil or alcohol

When lighting a barbecue, some type of fuel is usually used to give the flames a little life. To make the kitchen healthier, you can use vegetable oil or alcohol. The first is healthier, while less dangerous, since neglecting the amount of alcohol can make the flames rise too high.
Today in the market there are pills or special fuels for lighting barbecues, they are usually different from others and do not carry elements that are harmful to health since later we will not eat the food cooked on the grill, look when you buy them that they are specific for that use.

How to light a wood-burning charcoal barbecue

Barbecue igniter

How to light a wood-burning charcoal barbecue

Electric barbecue igniter

What are the best tricks for lighting charcoal on the barbecue?

1. The fireplace trick

You have two options: buy it or make it homemade. Making it homemade is very easy, since you only need one can (such as powdered milk). Make a series of perforations at the base so that air can pass through perfectly.

When you want to light the fire of the barbecue, put a good amount of crumpled newspaper at the bottom, while in the upper part you put charcoal. In the area of ​​the holes, light the paper and let it heat up for 15 minutes. This way you will have it ready to be thrown on the barbecue and ready to start cooking.

2. Use an electrical conduction device

Not everyone has the patience to light the charcoal in a barbecue. Therefore, it uses other systems that are faster, such as an electrical conduction device. In the electric bar the coal is made, and after connecting the cable to a conduction device, the embers are ready in 10 minutes.

Having a good fire, the appliance should be removed. Perhaps the biggest downside to using this method is that a power source is needed near the barbecue.

3. absorbent paper cups and vegetable oil

Do you want to make lighting the fire of your vegetable barbecue fun? Try using this trick: make a mountain out of the charcoal, leaving a few pieces of medium charcoal on the side. Take a sheet of absorbent paper and introduce them in the middle of the mountain, leaving only a part without paper. In this way, mixing the charcoal with the absorbent paper makes glasses or small glasses.

Then you just add vegetable oil to the cups and the ends of the papers. Place some medium pieces of charcoal, but without completely covering the glasses, and light the embers. In just under a minute you will begin to see the first flames. If you see that the coal burns fast, put in a few more pieces of coal, but be careful not to destroy the mountain you have made. In just under 20 minutes the embers will be ready and the charcoal barbecue ready to go.  

How to light a charcoal barbecue

How to light a charcoal barbecue

4. A good volcano with newspaper and charcoal

Newsprint works very well to get the embers to start working. Roll a good pile of newspaper into a ball, then cover it with another good quantity of paper. Continue until you achieve one of about 10 cm in diameter.

When you have it ready, with a knife make a hole in the middle of the ball, trying to reach the bottom, but do not go through it. Enlarge the hole and add vegetable oil (or alcohol) to bathe the entire interior. Using another piece of newspaper, make a kind of wick. Put the ball on the barbecue, surround it with coal, except for the area of ​​the hole, where you insert the wick. Cover the hole, leaving some vents, and light the wick to start the barbecue fire.

Another way to make a volcano out of newspaper is with the help of a bottle. One of water will suffice. To do this, you will use 8 sheets of newspaper, which are screwed onto the bottle, one at a time, trying to make sure they are well attached to it. When placing it on the barbecue, surround it with charcoal and remove the bottle carefully so that the charcoal does not fall into the hole. Put a wick and light so that in 20 minutes the embers are ready.

5. Use the classic barbecue lighter

Don't you want to get too complicated when starting the barbecue fire? In that case you can use a barbecue lighter to help you and speed up the process of lighting the embers.

It is a less recommended method, since a lozenge is used, and on top of it charcoal is put, which transfers a lot the charcoal flavor to food. It is a less healthy system to start the embers than other more natural methods that exist, but it is the fastest possibly. In case of using pills, make sure they are suitable for this reason. 

classic barbecue lighter

Classic barbecue lighter

Any final tips for lighting your barbecue with charcoal?

- First of all, remember how important the location of the barbecue is. Away from any plant matter, on a smooth surface and, of course, in an area that is not very windy. Or the embers will not ignite.
- The charcoal must be of good quality. It ignites quickly, since it is made by charring the wood. One of those you can use is Quebracho charcoal.
- Once the charcoal on the barbecue is on, wait until the grill is hot. At that time you must put the meat or fish. If the grill is cold, the food will stick.
- Salt always helps give food a good flavor, but in the case of a barbecue, it should not be used until the end. The salt crystals burst when they come into contact with the fire, releasing water that spoils the meat.
- Although charcoal is healthier, so that the meat is cooked before, it is better that the barbecue has a lid. This will prevent the barbecue smoke from hitting you directly.
- To avoid that the meat is undercooked, do it little by little, making the most of the heat offered by charcoal, which has a very high calorific value. 

How to light a wood-burning barbecue? 

Lighting a wood-burning barbecue if you don't have much idea how to do it can be a bit cumbersome. But the reality is that it is much simpler than you can imagine.
By following the steps that we will give you below to know how to light a wood-burning barbecue, you will have it ready in a few minutes and you can look like a real expert in front of your friends and family. 

What do you need to light a wood-burning barbecue? 

The objects that you will need to start your wood barbecue are going to be:


It is the main element. Firewood is needed that is well dried. The type of firewood will depend on the taste you want to give the food. In shopping centers you can get firewood simply for the embers, but there are different types of firewood to achieve a different flavor. You can combine both to make your food taste better.


Not only with firewood you are going to get your firewood barbecue garment. You will need something else to get the fire to increase, and for that nothing is better than a few branches, without leaves. As with firewood, they have to be very dry.

Diary paper

Like charcoal, newsprint can be used to light a wood-burning barbecue. With three or four leaves you will have more than enough to get the embers.


A good lighter to start getting the first flames. This can be a barbecue lighter or any other.

Are you ready to learn how to light the wood-burning barbecue? You will see that it is much easier than it seems. First of all, separate the firewood, discarding the pieces that are wet. And now, to light the barbecue:

1. Build a pyramid with the firewood

The first task to perform is to arrange the firewood in the shape of a pyramid, or as if it were a hut. In the center put the smallest pieces of wood, as these will be the ones that will light first. In this space you can put the branches or the newspaper.

Remember to leave space in the center for the air to circulate correctly. Fire needs oxygen, and if you close the airways, it will go out shortly after lighting. Other elements that you can add to the center are citrus peels such as orange, lemon or pineapple peels. This way you will get the flavor of your food to be unmatched.

2. Light the fire

Now that the firewood is well arranged, the flame must be lit. You can use a simple match on the smallest pieces of wood or a special bonfire lighter. When you see it start to burn, let it burn and wait a bit.

3. Arrange the wood to make the fire grow

The fire will spread little by little, then it will be time to start removing the wood, especially if there is a large one that has not yet been lit. In the event that you see that there is little firewood, you can add more, but only when the fire is very strong.

4. It's time to cook

With your wood-burning barbecue already on, it's time to cook. To do this, lower the grill and place your food to start enjoying a good meal prepared on your barbecue.

Remember that you can have various temperatures on the barbecue by distributing the embers with a metal bar. For example, for meats it is better that the fire from the embers of the wood gives them indirectly. Wait until a good ember is made and the grill is very hot, if it is cold the meat will stick. 

How to light a wood-burning barbecue

Pills to light the barbecue

How to light a wood-burning barbecue?


Other little tricks to light a wood-burning barbecue 

Does that trick seem too slow to have the fire ready? Well, here are some other little tricks you can use.

Combine firewood with charcoal

This is the simplest: combine firewood with charcoal. Right in the center of the firewood pyramid you can add a little charcoal, mix it with some balls of newspaper and light it.

However, remember that the calorific heat of both products is different, which will force you to be more aware of the food. However, in no time you will have the embers ready to start cooking.

Newspaper balls

If you simply want to use newspaper to get the embers, you will have to do the following: Make some balls of paper, not too tight, that you will put in the center of the firewood.

Remember to leave space for the air to circulate correctly and the fire can receive the necessary oxygen. You bathe these paper balls with a little olive oil and set them on fire. You will have to wait a bit, but adding a little more dry branches as the spark grows you will get everything to burn faster.
Another way to put the firewood

Maybe placing it in a pyramid shape is a bit annoying because the barbecue is not too big? Well, there is another way to do it.

First make small balls of paper, which can be newspaper or absorbent paper, to your liking. Put these balls on the base where the embers of your barbecue will be. Next, put the thinnest pieces of firewood on top of them and stack a few thicker pieces around them.

Light the mixture and add firewood as you see that the fire grows. It is somewhat slower than the other processes, but if you are one of those who do not mind waiting, it will be well worth it.
Is it faster using fuel and pills?

There is no doubt that, if you want to get the embers as soon as possible, it is best to use liquid fuel and ignition pads.

Now, you should know that this, although it saves you a lot of work, causes the food to have a charred taste, which is very bad for your health and for the food you are going to prepare. Better dispense with these two elements.

Isn't it better to use another type of paper than newspaper?

Even today there is still the belief that the ink in the newspaper is harmful to health, especially because of the smoke generated when burning it. However, all of this has changed over the years.

The ink used in newspapers today does not contain those toxic agents of 50 years ago. If you need something to light a good fire in a barbecue, there is no doubt that turning to newspaper is the best option.

Is firewood better than charcoal to light a barbecue?

Some will tell you that firewood is better, others than charcoal. Both are just as good for getting a good meal. The only difference is in the texture of the meat and the preparation time.

On the other hand, remember that not all wood-fired barbecues are compatible with charcoal and vice versa. So, if you are going to mix both elements to get the flames, first of all, find out if the barbecue is compatible with this system.

Other tips for lighting a wood-burning barbecue 

Now that you know the different ways you can make a wood-burning barbecue, we leave you some final tips to enjoy this experience even more:

- Remember that the barbecue must always be on a smooth surface, without nearby vegetation. The best is a dirt floor or that it has tiles. The embers of the wood do not jump the same as those of the coal, but during the movement of these some could fall to the ground. So be very careful.
- It is not unhealthy to breathe the smoke from wood barbecues, but it is not pleasant that the smell sticks to the curtains of the house. So close the windows tightly or try to cook as far away from them as possible. In a wide open area so that smoke does not penetrate inside.
- The air is very important to get a good fire with the firewood. But you should avoid areas with strong drafts. The fire only needs oxygen in the area of ​​the embers. Any draft of air could cause the sparks to go out as soon as you start, and you would have to start all over again.
- With charcoal barbecues there is a little trick to put the charcoal on the grill and light it there. With firewood it is not highly recommended, especially if you don't want to spend several hours removing charred wood from the grill afterwards. Use the area dedicated to it.
- Don't be in a rush to get the fire going. If you add too much wood at once, you will smother the fire. As you see that it rises, it will be the signal for you to add a little more firewood. But in just the right amount without going overboard.
- Go testing with different types of wood each time you use the barbecue. Each one gives a unique and original touch to the dishes. On the other hand, the use of peels of some foods is good to get good flavor. Be very careful with the salt, which must be added almost at the end of the process, since when it comes into contact with the fire it throws water and spoils the dish. 

How to light a charcoal barbecue?

How to light a wood-burning barbecue?

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