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How to Light the Fire

June 13, 1996|CHARLES PERRY

There are two main ways to start a charcoal briquette fire. The first is to add flammable material to the briquettes. Arrange them in a mound in the center of the fire grate. Then sprinkle with charcoal starter fluid, wetting all the briquettes. Close the fluid can and light the briquettes with a match or lighter.

There are also solid charcoal starters, which you arrange around the edge of the mound and light. Easy-light briquettes that have been treated with a flammable substance are available. They can be ignited directly with a match, but they tend to burn down quickly, so they're best for starting a fire that you replenish with regular briquettes.

The other method is the chimney. It can be improvised out of a coffee or large fruit-juice can by removing the lids at both ends and punching about eight ventilation holes all around one end, using a punch-type can opener. Commercially made chimneys are sturdier and more efficient, though, and have convenient handles.

Whichever kind you use, the procedure is the same. You crumple some paper and put it at the bottom of the chimney. You put briquettes on top of the paper (in commercially made models, there is a grate to separate the briquettes from the paper), filling the tube. Then you light the paper through one of the ventilation holes.

As the bottom briquettes light, they create a draft that will eventually ignite the briquettes above them. When all the briquettes are glowing over all their surfaces, shake them out of the chimney and spread evenly over the burning grate.

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