To cook your food, you’ll need a bed of hot charcoal, whether you’re grilling or smoking. Alas, many household chefs couldn’t figure out how to keep charcoal grill lit.
We’re all entitled to face challenges with lighting charcoal at times, and with practice, you’ll quickly discover what works best for you. However, just because your charcoal won’t light doesn’t mean it’s unusable–you may need to make a few modifications.
So we’re here to talk about the reasons why your charcoal grill won’t stay lit.
Reasons Why Your Charcoal Grill Won’t Light
Let’s go over some charcoal facts and why it can be tough to light your charcoal.
1. You Are Using The Wrong Type Of Charcoal
It isn’t easy to burn hardwood charcoal. It can be difficult to ignite and even more difficult to keep evenly hot. Furthermore, not all charcoal is created equal. There are various types of charcoal, with some being easier to light — and keep lit — than others.
If you’re having trouble keeping your charcoal lit, you should look into the type of charcoal you’re using. The majority of charcoal can be lump or briquette.
Lump charcoal is the most common type because it is made up of pure or nearly pure carbon. On the other hand, Charcoal briquettes are formed from wood and other organic byproducts that have been combined with a binding agent. These chemicals and fillers in the briquettes don’t add much flavor to your cuisine, and also they may be dangerous to your health.
Moreover, charcoal briquettes are also appealing because they ignite quickly and burn for a long time. But what you gain inconvenience, however, you will lose in flavor. As a result, if you’re concerned about it burning out, stick with lump charcoal.
2. The Charcoal Is Not Stacked
While grilling or smoking, the style you stack the charcoal directly impacts the temperature and length of time the charcoal will burn. If your charcoal is arranged horizontally on the bottom of your grill or smoker, it may not even ignite. Some coals may stay lit, but others may burn out before reaching a suitable temperature. You might have to re-stack your charcoal so that the heat rises upward.
Using a chimney starter is the simplest way to create a neat stack of charcoal. This everyday grilling and smoking equipment is a cylindrical-shaped piece of metal with a hollow inside.
Simply fill the chimney starter with charcoal, lay it on your grill or smoker, and ignite the bottom with a grill lighter. The charcoal should be hot after about 10 to 20 minutes, at which point you can carefully put it into the bottom of your grill or smoker.
Whether you’re lighting charcoal inside a smoker or grill, ensure you have plenty of charcoal stacked so it’s simpler to burn.
3. The Charcoal Is Damp
It is important to store charcoal properly. Since charcoal absorbs water vapor from the air via its pores, it is likely to be damp and charcoal won’t stay lit if stored in wet, humid conditions. And, like damp wood, if your charcoal contains any moisture, it won’t be easy to light.
Since charcoal is porous by nature, it may absorb and retain moisture from its surroundings. It is common in humid areas. If you live in a humid climate, you should take special care when storing your charcoal.
Keep your charcoal in a well-sealed container and store it in a cool, dry, climate-controlled setting to prevent it from absorbing moisture.
4. You Aren’t Venting The Charcoal Properly
Check that all of the vents on your grill or smoker are completely open before lighting your charcoal. Most grills and smokers have two vents, which are used to control the flow of air. They’re ideal for regulating the internal temperature of the cooking chamber. However, attempting to light charcoal with the air vents or dampers closed will be difficult.
Air cannot reach the charcoal while the vents are closed. If there isn’t enough air, your charcoal will burn out, and you’ll have to light the charcoal again. Once the charcoal has turned white-hot and the food has been added, you can partially close the vents but keep them closed until this occurs.
5. You Are Smothering The Chimney
You may have succeeded in lighting a charcoal grill, but it is swiftly burning. When you try to light it again, nothing happens. The issue here could be that you’re suffocating your charcoal. Allow plenty of breathing space for the charcoal. Air is required for the combustion of charcoal. If you remove the air source by adding wood before the charcoal is ready, your charcoal will burn out.
Wait until the charcoal is white-hot before adding your cooking wood or smoking chunks. Once your charcoal has reached this temperature, you can continue adding your cooking wood or smoking chunks without the worry of suffocating your charcoal.
6. Your Grill Is Not Clean
The key to starting a fire is to keep your grill clean. When your grill or smoker is greasy and wet, your charcoal won’t stay lit. A grease buildup will clog the air vents, and a moist chamber is bad for the charcoal. It’s a big mistake to leave a pile of ash at the bottom of the grill. As the ash becomes moistened, it will soon form a dense layer of paste. When you add new charcoal on top of this paste, it will instantly absorb the paste’s moisture.
Clean the ash from your grill every time you grill, even though you don’t believe it’s necessary–if you don’t, your next grilling may be a waste. In the end, you might notice an unpleasant taste in your meat.
7. The Conditions Are Humid
A lot depends on your environment, and you may need to be extra careful when keeping your charcoal. When it’s extremely humid, you will stay wondering why won’t my charcoal stay lit. When you’re trying to grill or smoke on a very humid day, the moisture in the air may saturate your charcoal to the point that it won’t light.
Unfortunately, you have no control over the humidity level outside. You simply need to take precautions ahead of time. If you keep the charcoal out in the open, it will be difficult in lighting a charcoal grill. The best thing you can do to avoid this is to keep your charcoal in an airtight container in a cool, dry environment.
What To Do If The Charcoal Grill Won’t Light
There’s always a solution to every problem. Here are some easy solutions on how to keep a charcoal grill lit.
1. Use A Charcoal Chimney
Once you have a charcoal chimney, the entire charcoal lighting process becomes very simple.
A charcoal chimney perfectly stores your charcoal vertically while providing appropriate airflow. You can easily get any charcoal going by lighting a small amount of newspaper at the bottom of the chimney or by using a fire stoker. The chimney directs heat to the charcoal, allowing it to burn. You’ll know the charcoal is burning when you see smoke and heat ripples in the air.
Charcoal chimneys are more dependable, cleaner, and environmentally friendly, and much safer and more durable.
2. Use A Quick Light Charcoal
The primary advantage of quick light charcoal is that it burns quickly. The majority of quick light charcoal brands claim a 10-minute light time before it’s ready to use. Although it is preferable to see if the charcoal has a thin layer of white ash on it, indicating that some or all of the chemicals have been burned off.
Even though it is fault-free, it is not the most immediate solution. You are limited to the amount of charcoal in the stock rather than choosing your required quantity or adding more charcoal during the cooking.
3. Should You Use A Self Igniter Chimney
Self-igniting charcoal is charcoal that has been covered in a flammable fluid, such as mineral spirits. All you have to do is stack the charcoal, point a light squarely at it, and before you know it, you’ve burned charcoal.
Although this appears to be a simple and effective method of lighting and burning your charcoal, it has a few drawbacks. While chemicals are considered safe to use, many cooks are concerned about the possibility of chemicals contaminating the food they are preparing.
It’s best to wait for the chemicals to burn off before putting anything on the grill. Inhaling the chemicals while standing over the grill is another health risk. When using a smoker, it is best to avoid self-igniting charcoal.
It can be challenging to light a charcoal grill and how to keep a charcoal grill lit. However, if you note the factors that influence why your charcoal won’t light, you’ll learn how to use charcoal to its full potential. With the things mentioned above, you can improve your chances of lighting your charcoal, including properly storing it. I hope you found this helpful article and learned what you were looking for.