Fire up your charcoal grill with these two easy steps.

By Real Simple
Updated May 15, 2014
Chimney starter in grill
Credit: The Ellaphant in the Room

Whether you’re using natural hardwood charcoal or briquettes, a chimney starter is a clean alternative to chemical lighter fluid and safer than dangerous electric-coil starters with these two easy steps.

1. Fill the chimney starter to the rim with charcoal. Set the starter over a few crumpled sheets of newspaper on the bottom grate of the grill; light the newspaper. The charcoal will start to smoke and continue to do so for about 5 minutes as it begins to light.

2. Leave the chimney starter untouched for 15 to 20 minutes. The coals should now be covered with a thin layer of ash. Holding the starter with heavy oven mitts, pour the coals onto the bottom grate. Place a clean, oiled grate on top, let it heat for 1 to 2 minutes, then start grilling.

For more information, see the Using a Chimney Starter Checklist.