1. The Ember Spread Method
Scatter unsoaked wood chips or chunks among the unlit charcoal. Thereafter, place a paraffin fire starter in the center and position 3 charcoals over it. Now, light the starter. Once the 3 pieces of charcoal are lit, close the lid and adjust the vents to obtain your desired BBQ temperature. The lit charcoals will gradually ignite the unlit charcoals and wood giving you a slow, steady burn and hours of smoke.
2. The Top-Down Burn Method
Here’s another great way to achieve a protracted burn, and it works with both lump charcoal and briquettes. Arrange three-quarters of the charcoal in the BBQ firebox. Then scatter it with unsoaked wood chunks or chips before lighting the remaining charcoals in a chimney starter. Now, pour the lit charcoals on top of the unlit charcoals, arranging a few more wood chunks or chips on top. The lit embers will gradually light the remaining charcoals from top to bottom.
3. The Minion Method
Similar to the Top-Down Burn Method above, the minion method is associated with a competition barbecuer named Jim Minion as he always uses briquettes. Fill the BBQ firebox with unlit charcoals and scatter them with unsoaked wood chips or chunks. Create a depression in the briquettes and arrange between 4-6 of lit embers on top. Don’t be surprised that this method can last up to 8 hours!
Additional Tips for Building a Charcoal Fire
- Don’t pile charcoal too deep in the BBQ firebox or the ash can choke out the fire. A rule of thumb would be 2 charcoals deep.
- Regardless of which method you use, know that there are numerous factors that will influence your burn time. This includes the wind, outside temperature, the thickness of your BBQ grill/smoker walls, and the type of fuel you use.