How to build a charcoal BBQ for your 4th of July celebration

It’s almost the 4th of July and with that comes backyard BBQ ‘s and parties for many people. If you’re like me, you probably grew up when a BBQ meant grabbing a bag of charcoal from the grocery store along with a can of lighter fluid and allowing Dad the (sometimes) frustrating job of getting the fire going (which sometimes led to cursing and/or singed eyebrows in the process). Today, we have many more options for BBQ from gas to traditional charcoal and we’ve become smarter and now have aids such as charcoal chimneys. If you plan on going old school this weekend and creating a charcoal BBQ for your celebration, here is how to make the perfect fire.

Step One: Build a Pyramid

Instead of old school thinking that the charcoal should be in one flat layer, what you actually want to do is form a pyramid with the charcoal. It doesn’t have to be perfect. As long as it’s high in the middle and tappers down. This will allow you to have multi-zone heat to cook upon.

Step Two: Lighter Fluid

Yes, it smells. Yes, it is dangerous. Yes, people still use it, however, if you’re going old school BBQ then lighter fluid is a very necessary step in the process. The trick? Don’t rush. Many people try lighting their fires immediately after putting on the lighter fluid. Big mistake. This can cause flare ups and it can be dangerous. Instead, really give the charcoal a good soaking of lighter fluid and let it stand for at least a few minutes. This allows the fluid to seep into the charcoal.

Step Three: Another layer of Lighter Fluid and Light

After at least five minutes with the original coating of lighter fluid, it’s now time to add a second, lighter layer. Wait approximately 15 seconds after the second coat, get your matches and start the fire.

Step Four: Don’t rush the process

The last step to building a great charcoal BBQ  is a simple matter of being patient. Allow the coals to turn gray before you begin to grill anything. You’ll have a slower, steady heat, and that is how you build the perfect old school charcoal fire.

Wishing everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!

This article is reposted with the author’s permission from

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