BBQ FAQ Section 8.5


8.5 How do I start my wood or charcoal fire?


[What's the best way to start the fire in my wood-burning smoker?]

Editor--summary of several posts--

Use the old tee-pee method with kindling. Put two balled-up sheets of newspaper in the firebox and then stack up kindling (1/4 to 1/2 inch diameter x 6 inches long) in a tee-pee shape over the newspaper, smaller stuff first then bigger pieces. Light the newspaper and keep the fire going with progressively bigger pieces of wood until you have some nice coals and can put on your logs.

For those without fire building skills, a propane gas burner works well for lighting fires in your smoker. You can use all kinds of burners from the small soldering torches to weed-burners. Safety first here though.

Some List members put an electric charcoal lighter rod into the kindling pile and when the rod is red hot and the wood smoldering, blow on it to get a flame. Remove the electric rod when the fire is going well.

Paraffin fire starters are used by some List members. You can buy them in a camping supply store or make your own. See post below.


Rock McNelly--

I don't know how this would work for charcoal, but we used to make our own fire starters as a kid out of paraffin wax, saw dust, and egg cartons. We'd cook up some wax, stir in the saw dust, and then fill the little "cups" of the paper egg cartons. Then, when we wanted to start a fire, we'd just cut off one of the "cups", and place it under the kindling and light it. It would last a long time, and I can't recall a time that it didn't get the fire going. If nothing else, it'll give you something to do on a rainy weekend afternoon!


[Is there no odor from the paraffin fire starters?]

Vince Vielhaber--

They smoke some, but not much odor. I usually leave the firebox door open when I'm using one of these paraffin starters because of the smoke and then close the door when they are burned and the fire is started.

Another List member recommended pitch logs (pine saturated with natural pitch) to start the fire. Make sure that the pine and pitch are burned and gone before putting the meat in the smoker.

Some List members use charcoal lighter fluid to start the wood or charcoal in their pits. Just be sure that the fire burns long enough to eliminate all the volatiles from the lighter fluid so they don't give any bad tastes to your meat--wait at least 30 minutes after the last use of the lighter fluid. NEVER use gasoline or any other flammable liquids to start your smoker fire--only use commercial charcoal lighter fluids.

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BBQ FAQ Ver 1.0, 2.0 1997, 1998 William W. Wight. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 25, 1999
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