How to keep a charcoal grill lit

In recent years, charcoal grills have surpassed gas grills as the standard for backyard cookouts. It’s easy to transport, doesn’t take up much room, and adds a delicious smoky flavour to your food. However, maintaining a lit charcoal grill can feel like an uphill battle at times.

As a result, it’s helpful to know a few tricks that can extend the time that your charcoal grill stays lit so that you can spend less time fussing over the grill and more time focusing on the food. Although you can use some grilling methods on their own, for the best results, try to work as many of them into your routine as possible.

The Best Ways to Maintain a Lit Charcoal Grill

You want your grill to maintain a steady heat of about 225 degrees Fahrenheit throughout your cooking. But anyone who has frequently used a charcoal grill will tell you; sometimes, it’s a struggle. There are a few things you can do to keep a charcoal grill burning for an extended period of time.
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1- Get Some Good Charcoal

You get what you pay for; it’s the rule of thumb for most things. Lump charcoal from a store brand may be less expensive, but it may be more challenging to light and maintain a flame. Start with high-quality charcoal briquettes by sticking to known-brand products.

2- Stack it Vertically

Charcoal grills use oxygen as a secondary fuel source, so adjusting the grill’s temperature can be as simple as opening the damper. Start with the intake damper fully open and tweak it as necessary when your grill heats up.

3- Mind the Lighter Fluid

Be generous when dousing the charcoal in lighter fluid. While you should give the lighter fluid a few minutes to absorb after pouring it, don’t wait too long to light it, or the fluid will have evaporated. Do not add additional lighter fluid AFTER the fire has been started because this is a safety hazard.

4- Clean Old Ash Between Uses

If you’re not cleaning up the ashes after you grill, the residual buildup could be the reason you’re struggling to keep your charcoal grill lit. Too many ashes in the grill restrict the airflow, preventing the flame from staying lit.

5- Monitor the Fuel

Keeping a close eye on the charcoal grill can help prolong the time it stays lit. After an hour or two, you can add some lit or unlit briquettes to bring the temperature back up. If you notice the edges of the charcoal are grey, it’s time to stoke the fire. Move the coals around regularly to keep the flame going.

6- Get a Temperature Probe

To help anticipate changes in the fuel source before they happen, invest in a temperature gauge for your grill so you can track the heat level throughout the cooking process. That way, you’ll have an accurate sense of when the temperature is dropping, and you can proactively tend to the coals.

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