How to Light a Charcoal Grill With Newspaper

Lighting a charcoal grill can be a tricky task, especially if you choose not to use lighter fluid.

Charcoal grills are available in many different shapes and sizes.Charcoal grills are available in many different shapes and sizes.
Newspaper and twigs are an alternative to lighter fluid, as the newspaper will ignite quickly and the twigs will maintain the heat until the charcoal ignites. The charcoal will turn red hot after approximately 10 minutes, and then will turn white or gray.

Crumble several pieces of newspaper and place them at the bottom of the grill. Place enough newspaper so that it will surround the charcoal. When crumbling the newspaper, do not crumble so much that air can not pass through the paper.

Place approximately 20 to 30 twigs, about the size and length of a pencil on top of the newspaper. You can gather the twigs from your yard and they should be dry. Ensure that the twigs are evenly distributed on top of the newspaper.

Place the grate on top of the twigs, then place the charcoal onto the grate. The amount of charcoal needed will depend on the size of your grill. Refer to the instructions on the charcoal bag for the correct amount to place inside the grill.

Light the edges of the newspaper on fire using a match or grill lighter. Ensure that the entire outside of the newspaper is lit.

Allow the newspaper to burn, in turn igniting the twigs.

Place the lid on the grill and allow the twigs to ignite the charcoal. After approximately 15 minutes, remove the lid and examine the charcoal. When the charcoal turns a gray or white color you can begin cooking your food.

Things You Will Need

  • Charcoal grill with lid
  • Charcoal
  • Newspaper
  • Twigs
  • Matches
  • Charcoal grate


  • Alternatively, you can use a charcoal chimney starter. To use the chimney starter, place one or two pieces of crumpled newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, then fill the chimney with charcoal. Light the edges of the newspaper and allow the coals to turn gray, which will take approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Once the coals are gray, dump the contents of the chimney into the bottom of your grill.

About the Author

Andrew Todd has been writing since 2006. He has written for the Consumer Search website and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida. Todd has a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida.