Lighter Fluid Substitute for grilling and barbecue [8 of the best alternatives]

by | Sep 30, 2022 | Barbecue, Grilling, Smoker | 0 comments

Why People Avoid Using Lighter Fluid

Lighter fluid is a type of petroleum product. It’s often used to help light grills and charcoal. But some people, including myself, avoid using it because they believe it harms their health. It can also leave a terrible taste on your food if it has not burnt off completely. 

Lighter fluid can be hard to safely manage and always poses the risk of a fire that can spread.

You can start a fire in any grill with lighter fluid, in almost any conditions. But there is the danger that comes when you don’t use enough, and it does not light the briquettes. Then adding more can make your food taste like petroleum, and it can also cause an explosion.

My advice, avoid using lighter fluid for your grill.

There are many ways to start a fire, and using lighter fluid can get any fire started. However, this method can be dangerous if not done correctly. If you don’t use enough lighter fluid, the briquettes will not light. Adding too much lighter fluid can make your food taste like petroleum and can also cause an explosion. It’s best to avoid using lighter fluid altogether.

Just use wax natural firefighters like these. Job done. But go ahead and see what else we recommend.

wax fire lighter

Great Ideas For Charcoal Lighter Fluid Substitutes

There are quite a few products in most households that will make a good substitute for lighter fluid. I would hedge my best that you have some of the following and if you don’t, most of them are very affordable and minimize the risk dramatically.

Lighting a fire can be dangerous, so take care and maybe practice a few times in a much safer environment. So when it does come time to light that fire for your camping trip or cooking, it’s just that much easier.

Here is a list of some of the best lighter fluid substitutes that are available to light charcoal without lighter fluid.

Charcoal Chimney Starter

chimney starter

A charcoal chimney starter is a great way to get your charcoal grill lit without using lighter fluid. They are designed with vents so they get the perfect airflow to keep the fire growing. All you need is some charcoal, a chimney starter, and a few sheets of newspaper or any other firestarter listed below. Fill the chimney starter with charcoal briquettes, then place it on the grate of your grill. Sit the bottom of the chimney on top of the newspaper, then light it. Once the paper is lit and continues to burn, the briquettes should start to smoke, catch fire and continue to burn until you have a nice grey layer on all the charcoal. If you are regularly cooking with coal then I highly recommend getting a charcoal chimney.

Wax natural fire starter

wax fire lighter

My personal favorite fire starters. These wax ‘tumbleweeds’ as some people call them are a really clean practical way to start a fire. They are safe to use, environmentally friendly, and easy to find. I get these from Amazon and and take them with me on camping trips and up to our firepit.

Simply put some wax on your kindling, and light it with a match. Or as I have started doing, using a steel flint to light a cotton ball that is next to the wax starter to light it. The wax will help the fire catch quickly and easily. You can also use wax to create your own DIY fire starters. Simply put some wax in an empty egg carton or toilet paper roll, and add some dryer lint or cotton balls. These make great gifts for campers or anyone who loves spending time outdoors.

Cardboard Egg Carton

egg carton firelighter

A cardboard egg carton is an easy and safe way to start a fire and is economical and environmentally friendly.

You can melt an old candle or similar wax into the egg spaces, if you add some sawdust, wood shavings or lint it will help the firefighter burn for longer.

To use it, simply place the egg carton in the fireplace or campfire, and light the cardboard carton end with a match. The egg carton will act as a wick, providing a steady flame that will help to ignite the kindle and the larger logs.

Newspaper firestarter

Newspaper firestarter

If you’re looking for a safe and environmentally friendly way to start a fire, look no further than your morning newspaper (if you still buy them!). Paper is an excellent fire starter because it ignites easily and burns hot. Plus, it’s a natural product that’s easy to find and inexpensive.

To use newspaper as a fire starter, simply crumple a few sheets into loose balls and place them under your kindling. You can also roll the paper into tight tubes and stand them upright in the campfire pit. The paper will catch fire quickly, so be sure to have your wood ready to add to the flames.

With a newspaper, you can easily start a safe and eco-friendly fire that will keep you cooking all night long.

Electric Starter

An electric fire starter is a safe and easy way to start a fire. You can use an electric starter to light a campfire, BBQ, or any other type of fire.

An electric fire starter is a great way to light a fire without using matches or lighter fluid. They are easy to use and are safe around children. Electric starters are also great for people who have trouble lighting fires with matches or lighters. 

One of the most popular choices is the Looflighter, they can be had for under $100 so are a bit of an investment. I haven’t used one personally but friends and chefs have commented that it’s super quick and very versatile. It can light charcoal, briquettes and wood.

If you’re looking for a safe and easy way to start a fire, an electric starter is the way to go.

Vegetable Oil

vegetable oil

Not my favorite method but If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to start a fire, look no further than your kitchen cupboard. If you’re outside cooking them you probably have some oil with you. Vegetable oil is an excellent fire starter – just soak some paper towels or newspaper in it and you’re good to go.

Cooking oil will also work in a pinch, but be aware that it can be quite smoky. Either way, once you’ve got your fire going, be sure to keep an eye on it; oil fires can be notoriously hard to control. So use very little amounts.

Alcohol as a substitute

I wouldn’t recommend it but some people will use alcohol as a fire starter. Alcohol is highly flammable and can easily ignite if it comes into contact with an open flame or spark. This can lead to serious burns or even death. If you are going to use alcohol as a fire starter, be sure to take extra safety precautions and keep it away from any open flames.

To use it as a lighter, soak a paper towel or newspaper in the alcohol and then hold it to the charcoal. Be sure to use gloves when doing this, as the alcohol content should work quickly to light the grill.

Doritos Hot Chips

This method sounds absolutely mental, but you might have a solution readily available in your snack bag. Doritos ignite rapidly, and they burn long enough to aid a fire start, or at least help get it started.

Listed in the ingredients are corn oil, canola, and sunflower oil. They are all flammable but only once temperatures reach 700 degrees F, once they do they burn like most other oils so make a great fire starter when you have nothing but snacks left. This work with most snacks that use oils such as – Cheetos and Fritos.

Which Lighter Fluid Substitutes Have You Tried?

Have you tried any of these? All of these? I’ve tried most of these over the years but still go to my favorite wax starters each time. I always keep them in stock for around the campsite and barbecue.

When starting a campfire make sure that the area is safe and you don’t have any flammable materials near the fire. Make sure that all the children and pets are at a safe distance. Keep a bucket of water close when you are using a campfire just in case of an emergency.




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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