Can You Use Gas to Start a Charcoal Grill?

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No, gas should never be used to start a charcoal grill.

Using gas (or even diesel or kerosene) on a charcoal grill will significantly increase the chances of an explosion.

This is because these substances burn too quickly, and are therefore not safe enough to light a charcoal grill.

At best, you will have a cold charcoal, gnarly smell, and a delayed BBQ party.

For this reason, you should only use lighter fluids that have been approved for charcoal.

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Even then, you should cap the fluid immediately after using it, and store it at a safe distance from your grill. 

Isn’t Lighter Fluid the Same as Gasoline?

No, gasoline and lighter fluid are far from different. In the US, white gas is referred to as Coleman Fuel.

On the other hand, lighter fluids (such as those used for BBQ grills or cigarette lighters) are the ‘flashier’ types of fluids.

It is important that you only use the fuels that have been approved and recommended by your stove.

In the case of an MSR stove, you must also choose the right fitting.

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Can You Use a Charcoal Grill Inside the House?

You should never use a charcoal grill indoors, even if you think that you have plenty of ventilation.

The reason behind this is that charcoal will produce CO (Carbon Monoxide) until it has been fully extinguished.

For this reason, grills should also not be stored indoors with any coals that have just been burned. 

How to Light a Charcoal Grill?

Use a couple of newspapers to create a bunch, and then place this bunch in the middle of your charcoal grate.

Allow the coals to accumulate around this paper (much like a pyramid), light up the newspapers, and let them go. 

Is Gasoline More Flammable Than Lighter Fluid?

The sole function of gasoline is fueling an engine. Unsurprisingly, then, the flash point of gasoline is -45 degrees.

Flash point, by the way, is the temperature at which a substance starts producing an ignitable vapor.

On the other hand, lighter fluid has a flash point of approximately 160 degrees which, obviously, is considerably higher than regular room temperature.

In other words, gasoline is significantly more flammable than lighter fluid, which is why it is so much more prone to explosions. 

Is Butane Better than Lighter Fluid?

The key difference between the two is with regards to the flame type.

Many cigars use liquid butane because the gas burns hotter, concentrates the flame into a wind-resistant and powerful torch, and is considerably cleaner than lighter fluid. 

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Which Fuels are the Best for Starting a Fire?

Below are some of the best fuel options for starting a fire:

  • Wood
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
  • Kerosene
  • Propane

What are the Three Prerequisites for a Fire?

Fire cannot be produced without fuel, heat, and oxygen – which is why these three elements are also referred to as the ‘fire triangle’.

However, apart from these three, you also need a chemical reaction, which actually makes it a ‘fire tetrahedron’.

Even if one of these elements are absent, you will either not get a fire at all, or will get one that will not take long to extinguish. 

How Long Does Gasoline Take to Burn?

Regular gasoline can last anywhere between two to six months, while diesel has a useful life of up to one year. Organic-based ethanol, meanwhile, can start to lose combustibility within a month, due to evaporation and oxidation. 

Should I Close My Lid While Starting a Charcoal Grill?

While lighting and arranging the charcoal, you should keep the lid open.

However, once the coals have been arranged and are well-lit, the lid should be closed. Generally, charcoal grills are the hottest just after they have been lit. 

Can You BBQ Using Charcoal?

Charcoal grilling is precarious, and can be dangerous if not done carefully or properly.

Using flammable fuels like gasoline – or even using lighter fluids in excessive amounts – can lead to severe explosions and burns.

Never use a charcoal grill in an enclosed space – the carbon monoxide production can cause CO poisoning, which can prove fatal. 

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How Long Should You Burn the Coals Before Cooking?

Make sure to preheat your grill before you begin cooking. 

Once you have distributed the coals within the grill, put the lid on and let things be for around five to ten minutes.

After this period, you can start putting food on the coals (you want to observe a slight sizzle when the vegetables, fruits, or protein strike the grates). 

Can Old Gasoline Be Burned?

Yes, old gasoline can certainly be burned, although it will not burn as efficiently as is required to operate an engine.

However, if you want to dispose of gasoline, burning is not the best way.

This is because this method is extremely hard to execute safely, especially in home environments. 

When Should I Start Cooking on Coals?

Once the fluid starts to burn off, you will notice the edge of the coals turn gray with ash. Soon, the ash will start spreading and cover every briquette.

Once a large proportion of the coals is covered with ash, the coals are ready for use. Generally, this process takes around 15 to 20 minutes. 

What Are the Alternatives to Lighter Fluid?

The truth is, even lighter fluid is not required to light a charcoal grill.

Apart from newspapers (which we have already discussed), you can use the following alternatives:

  • Whiskey (pretty much any high-proof alcohol will work)
  • Cardboard egg-crate (take around half of the bottom of the egg-crate, and put the coals inside it)
  • Rubbing alcohol (remember to let the alcohol burn out completely before you start cooking)

Wrapping Up:

To reiterate, gas should NEVER be used to start a charcoal grill, since it is extremely flammable and has a high risk of explosion.

There are a number of better options that you can utilize, including lighter fluid, rubbing alcohol, whiskey, newspapers, and cardboard egg-crates.