Secrets on the Grill

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What to do with Leftover Charcoal

In a previous article, I wrote that the third and best reason to store away leftover charcoal was to use it as a fire enabler. The process below essentially describes how the chimney firestarter works although in this case, the grill body itself works as the chimney.

Here are the steps to start the fire with the leftover charcoal. Since I don’t buy charcoal, the “charcoal” I say here refer to the pieces of charred firewood leftover from the last grilling or cooking.

  1. Cut pieces of scrap paper (old newspaper is okay) with surface area of around 4 inches by 5 inches which is roughly half of a standard “Letter”-sized bond paper. No hard-and-fast rule here as far as measurement is concerned. Hey, it’s just paper for burning anyway.
  2. Loosely crumple the pieces of paper. “Loose” here is loose enough to allow plenty of air all around. You need oxygen for the fire.
  3. Position the crumpled pieces of paper inside the grill shown below. Don’t pack the balls of paper too tightly together. These balled pieces of paper will be the first layer.
  4. Get enough dried leaves to create a good pile on top of the paper balls. How dry is “dry”? Position them as shown below.

  5. Now here’s the messy part. Although this is where you will put the charcoal into good use. Get some of the really charred pieces and carefully put them on top of the pile.

  6. With a safety match, light a small piece of paper around 6 inches long and light one of the paper balls.
  7. Fan the fire to create flames that engulf the dried leaves and a big blaze should ensue.
The heat of the big fire will be enough to “reawaken” the charcoals.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Good tip.