charcoal lighter fluid alterantives cover

Charcoal Lighter Fluid Alternatives

We are posting charcoal lighter fluid alternatives because we know you need a way to light those coals when you don’t have any lighter fluid. In this post we will begin with some household alternatives that you can use and touch on store bought as well.

The most reliable method is the use of a chimney starter for this we will assume you don’ have one available. If you grill with charcoal all the time a charcoal chimney is worth the investment.

Household lighter fluid alternatives:

Newspaper: Ball up 2 or 3 sheets and place under your charcoal grate. Pile the coals directly above it and light the paper.

Whiskey*: Any high proof alcohol really

Rubbing alcohol*: Be sure to let this burn out completely before cooking over it.

Cardboard Egg Crate: Take 1/2 of the bottom of the crate, place coals into it. Light opposite corners of the crate. The cardboard will burn slow enough to light your coals.

Doritos: Any heavily seasoned hot chip really. Read our entire post here.

doritos in pile of charcoal

*The liquids on the list should be used in combination with a wadded up paper towel or a few cotton balls. Douse the paper towels or cotton balls into the liquid. Place into your pile of coals and light.

A couple of other things we have tried that did not work are: cooking oil, sugar and flour.

Store bought lighter fluid alternatives.

Royal Oak All Natural Fire Starters Natural Wood Tumbleweeds - 16 Pieces

Royal Oak Tumbleweeds: Great product read our post here.

Weber Lighter Cubes: A paraffin type fire starter that also works great.

Fatwood Fire Starters: An all natural fire starting solution. Read our entire review here.

We have full item reviews up for all of these products.

Got any other things that can light your charcoal in a pinch? We would love to hear about it in our comments section.

This page contains links to 4thegrill’s products and/or revenue generating sponsored links and ads from Amazon. 4theGrill is not responsible for the content of the off site links we provide.


aka Sultan of Sizzle

I have been blogging about and selling grilling tool for over 12 years. A Certified Food Safety Professional, KCBS member, award winning writer and have over 10 years experience in the food service industry.

“I have experienced some of the best food this country has to offer and nothing is better than the food that comes off my own grill!”

Charcoal Lighter Fluid Alternatives
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Charcoal Lighter Fluid Alternatives
We are posting charcoal lighter fluid alternatives because we know you need a way to light those coals when you don't have any lighter fluid.
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  1. Great tips but Doritos really?

  2. Grillmaster21

    Never thought about using alcohol great tip

  3. Clivedoglogfrog

    Just tried the Doritos trick just to see…
    It works!!!

  4. Cotton balls and Vaseline

  5. Cotton balls soaked in rubbing alcohol. Worked better than I expected!

  6. bill klinke

    I’ve been using an electric wand starter for decades. It generates less smoke than using fatwood chunks and whatever. As long as you take it out of the piled-up charcoal after about 8 minutes, it will last you for multiple seasons.
    And after it cools off in about 10-15 minutes, it’s not a hazard for kids, dogs, drunks, etc.

  7. Jeffrey Smith

    Heat gun from harbor freight . 3.99 with coupon 7.99 without. Bought 2 spares also.

  8. I have read that sugar will work what do you think?

    1. Griller57 we attempted to light our charcoal using sugar yesterday and it was a bust! It would not ignite, just melt and roll off. So after seeing this it dawned on us that even if it did work at least some of it would just melt and stick to the inside of the grill. So not recommended.

  9. Margaret Schoppel

    Totally awesome tips!! Especially, when right now, the lighter fluid appears to be very hard to get.

  10. Used vegetable oil works just as good as lighter fluid, I use some used paper towels that I store in a separate bin and wad them up and place them on top of the charcoal and then soak them with the used oil, it burns for a good 15 minutes and gets the charcoal going really good.

  11. actually, try putting a tablespoon of granulated sugar in a square of aluminum foil, spread it thin and heat with fire from underneath. after it melts keep the flame there long enough to melt the sugar and shortly there after the magic happens and its rather effective for said remedy. Now children go and get a pound of sugar and a book of matches then go play in an enclosed area;) yw

  12. Stephanie Kay Rowe

    I just used red Doritos. Worked great!!!!

  13. There’s this great contraption called “charcoal chimney,” or “starter chimney,” that lights your coals with one piece of newspaper, or as I like to use, the inside brown paper of the bag itself!

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