Why should you NEVER use lighter fluid in your kamado grill

Why should you NEVER use lighter fluid in your kamado grill
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It can be tempting to use some lighter fluid start your charcoal burning, but it’s really important that you never ever do. I’ve been that demoralised and frustrated person, trying and failing to start my kamado or BBQ. I just want to get my charcoal lit and meat onto the grill to get those juices flowing!


So why not use lighter fluid to start my kamado?

The main body of your kamado is made from ceramic. And aside from being great at retaining heat, ceramic is very porous. Accelerants, like lighter fluid, contain chemicals which can be absorbed into the porous ceramic of your kamado. Then, depending on what food you’re going to be cooking, your kamado might not get up to high enough temperatures to burn off any of those nasty chemicals. This can lead to the chemicals precipitating out of the ceramic and onto your food during the subsequent cooks. Not only will this cause your otherwise delicious food to have a bad taste and odour, it can be very bad for your health too.


My experiences

When I first started BBQing, I used lighter fluid from time to time. This was on a very small cast iron charcoal BBQ and generally speaking, the lighter fluid burnt off. However, there were several occasions where I’d get a distinctly unpleasant chemical taste, so I very quickly started to look for alternatives.


My first BBQ, a cast iron pot
My first BBQ, a small cast iron pot


Subsequent to briefly using lighter fluid in my cast iron BBQ, I switched to wood-wool style fire lighters. They’re simply wax coated coils of wood kindling which are odourless and burn for up to 10 minutes. They were ideal for my needs and I used them as my main ignition source for a long time.


Wood wool fire lighters are cheap and chemical free.
Wood wool fire lighters are cheap and chemical free.


Today I generally use an electric fire starter, or looftlighter electric fire lighter, when lighting up my kamado. It’s quick to get my charcoal burning and works every time. You can read my review of the Texas Club Fire Starter here.


Lighting the Charcoal in my Kamado
The Texas Club Electric Fire Starter I use for lighting the Charcoal in my Kamado


Top tip: When lighting any BBQ or kamado, I’d recommend always wearing a long sleeve t-shirt or jacket and sunglasses. This will protect your arms and eyes as some sparks can be thrown up when you’re lighting up.


Do you have your own technique for lighting the charcoal or timber kamado?

I ‘d be interested to read about it. Leave a comment below or email it to me. I’ll try it out next time I’m getting ready for a cook and let you know how it goes!