BBQ Grill Charcoal: Extending Burn Life

What You'll Need
Quality hardwood charcoal
Heavy aluminum foil
Charcoal pan or grate
Gravel or sand
Lighter fluid
Chimney starter

When using a BBQ grill to cook food outdoors with charcoal, whatever you can do to increase its burn life helps. Although technically barbecuing and grilling are two different types of cooking, for these purposes they will be considered one and the same. Grilling with charcoal as opposed to pellets, wood chips or propane is a good way to cook outdoors. They burn hot and can be spread around to increase the cooking radius. The downside is that they take a while to get going at full heat, and should they go out you might not get an even temperature from all of them. If you have a lot of grilling to do, you want to get the most heat out of the charcoal as possible. That is what you will learn how to do.

Step 1: Proper coals

To get the most use and heat out of your charcoal, the first thing to do is purchase quality charcoal. Cheap charcoal will burn, but it won’t burn as long or as effectively. Spend a few dollars more and buy high quality hardwood charcoal.

Step 2: Grill preparation

For a long lasting burn, do two things. First, line the bottom of the grill with heavy aluminum foil to prevent any loss of heat. Second, make sure there is a charcoal pan or grate at the bottom of the grill. This will keep the coals off of the surface, creating air flow and a more consistent burn. If you do not have either one or the other, you can place a 1-inch deep layer of gravel or sand at the bottom of the grill.

Step 3: Coal Placement

The next thing to keep in mind is the placement of the coals. The charcoal should be stacked in a pyramid shape when it is first lit. This allows the heat to stay close. After the coals have heated up, there should be enough to reach at least 1 inch past the point where food will lay to cook.

Step 4: Proper lighting and heating

The charcoal should be built up into a pyramid to light. Spray the lighter fluid over the coals evenly and let it soak into the coals for one or two minutes. After you light it, let it burn for 30 to 45 minutes. The coals should be covered with white ash. At this point, spread them out evenly to create your heating area. You can also use a chimney starter—an open ended cylinder with a grate at the bottom end and a handle. You light the coals inside and the metal walls keep them hot. When they are ready, pour them onto the grill for a good burning set of coals.

Keeping your charcoal burning is important, especially if you have a lot of food to cook. Follow these steps for the best, most effective charcoal fire and your grilled food will turn out right every time.