How To Fire Up Your BBQ



It’s easy if you follow a few simple tips and get to understand the nature of charcoal itself.


How to Start Your BBQ Fire

(extract from the Rotigrill “Guide To Rotisserie Cooking”)

People are always asking us about the best way to light charcoal for a BBQ. Follow these tips and be patient. It takes about 30 minutes for the charcoal to be ready for cooking.


Starting fire

Fill the fire tray. Make a hole in the centre of the charcoal and drop a firelighter into the bottom. Carefully build a pyramid tower of charcoal around and above the firelighter. Light the firelighter carefully using a long taper or gas lighter. Next, place two large pieces of charcoal over the top of the towers (taking care not to put the firelighters out). This creates a furnace effect and draws air up the towers.Leave for approximately 15 – 20 minutes, and then spread the charcoal evenly in the tray and leave for another 15 minutes.

Salmon with Peppers
When the charcoal is nice and white (“dusty”) start cooking. Keep the charcoal topped up at regular intervals with a few pieces of charcoal, spread out evenly.

A Few Facts About Charcoal

Charcoal burns at intense temperatures, up to 2700 degrees Celsius.. By comparison, the melting point of iron is approximately 1200 to 1550 degrees Celsius. This in itself has created environmental problems as charcoal is seen in many undeveloped economies as a good source of income as an industrial fuel for the production of pig iron.

BBQ use is minute by comparison and is not generally viewed as being any more harmful to the environment than any other fuel. In fact, it’s very high temperature output means that you can be fairly sparing in its use. Charcoal ash is also a useful fertiliser, so it can be used on your garden after your BBQ.

In the UK, timber is usually sourced from woodland regeneration projects, coppicing and thinning. The wood is cut into lengths of around eight feet and is then stacked to dry for a period of 6-9 months. Towards the end of the period it is chopped and split into sections of about three feet in length and five inches in diameter.

Charcoal is made when wood is heated under conditions where there is insufficient air for complete combustion. In this process the water contained in the wood is first driven off before the wood begins to break down. A series of chemical reactions then follow which result in the release of volatile products. Charcoal – a solid black residue is left.

Lump charcoal is made directly from hardwood material and usually produces far less ash than briquettes. It hardly emits any smoke at all and should not “spit”. Afavouritefor Balti ovens.

Pillow shaped briquettes are made by compressing charcoal, typically made from sawdust and other wood by-products, with a binder and other additives. The binder is usually starch. Some briquettes may also include brown coal (heat source), mineral carbon (heat source), borax, sodium nitrate (ignition aid), limestone (ash-whitening agent), raw sawdust (ignition aid), and other additives. Fumes can taint food.

For a copy of our “Guide To Rotisserie Cooking”, just click “Rotigrill” and then click the icon at the top of the home page.

Click “How To Cook On A Rotisserie” to see a video, including how to start up your charcoal fire.