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How to: light the coals

Get fired up! Your guide to lighting up Kingsford® Charcoal with a chimney, lighter or just a match.

Lighting the coals is easy when you know the basics. Fire is contagious. Keeping the briquets close together will help the fire spread from coal to coal easily so they’re ready to use faster.

Method 1: Lighting the coals with a chimney starter

This simple device uses paper — most commonly newspaper — to light the coals, which are held within the confines of a metal cylinder. The coals sit above the flames, so the edges light quickly and help ignite neighboring coals.


Step 1. Fill the chimney with charcoal.

Fill the chimney with the appropriate amount of charcoal. A standard chimney holds about 100 briquets. But you may not need that many. Learn more at our Coal Configurator.


Step 2. Add newspaper and light it.

Add one or two sheets of newspaper, following the instructions on the chimney. Light the newspaper in several spots. As the newspaper burns in the chamber below, the flames light the edges of the charcoal above. Peek through the vents of the chimney to check if the coals have started and the edges of the coals have turned gray. If the coals have not started, burn another piece of newspaper. You can also drizzle the newspaper with cooking oil before lighting so it burns longer.


Step 3. When you see flames up top, pour out the coals.

After about 10 minutes, you will see the coals starting to glow through the vents and flames starting to flicker over the top layer of coals. Pour them out into a pile and wait until the coals are mostly covered in ash and gray in color. Then spread the coals out. The entire process takes approximately 15 minutes.

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Method 2: Lighting Kingsford® Original Charcoal with lighter fluid

The tried-and-true method that works well to get your charcoal started. Here are some tips to use lighter fluid safely.


Step 1. Arrange the coals into a neat mound.

Piling the coals into a mound or pyramid will help increase coal-to-coal contact and help the fire spread.


Step 2. Add lighter fluid to the pile of unlit coals and light immediately.

Carefully squirt lighter fluid on the top and sides of the charcoal mound, following lighter fluid directions. Light immediately after applying the fluid. Never squirt lighter fluid onto flaming or hot coals.


Step 3. Coals are ready when covered with gray ash.

After the fluid burns off, the edges of the coals will turn gray. As the coals continue to burn, the ash spreads to cover each briquette. Once mostly covered in ash, the coals are ready to spread out and use. The entire process takes approximately 15 minutes.

Method 3: Lighting Kingsford® Match Light® Charcoal

Easy-to-light Kingsford® Match Light® Charcoal has just the right amount of lighter fluid added to the briquets, so all you do is light it with a match.


Step 1. Arrange the coals into a neat mound.

It’s important not to skip this step. Piling the coals into a mound or pyramid will help increase coal-to-coal contact and help the fire spread — so you are ready to cook faster.

match light

Step 2. Light the coals.

Using a match, light the edge of a few of the Match Light® briquets. The flame will spread to the other briquets in the pile.


Step 3. Coals are ready when covered with gray ash.

After lighting, the flames will subside, and you will see the edges of the coals turn gray. Eventually the ash will spread to each briquet. The coals are now ready to spread out and use. The entire process takes 10 minutes.

A drizzle of cooking oil on the newspaper makes it burn longer–much the same way the wick of a candle burns for a long time.

"You only need about 1.6 ounces of lighter fluid per pound of charcoal."

Each Kingsford briquet features Sure Fire Grooves® to help them catch fire faster.

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