Cooking with charcoal is generally preferred over wood for several reasons: it produces more heat, burns for longer, and it’s readily available. Yet, you still can’t beat wood for flavor and wood will always be our number one choice.
But whether you’re cooking on a grill or fire pit, you’ll need to stack your charcoal in the correct manner to achieve these results. Some people assume that it’s best to lay a flat and even “layer” of charcoal, but this isn’t necessarily true. To learn more about charcoal and how to create the perfect stack for grilling, keep reading.
The Pyramid Stack
There are several ways to stack charcoal, though one of the most effective is the pyramid stack. This lives up to its namesake by mimicking the appearance of a pyramid. By creating this shape, air can flow through the charcoal more easily, intensifying the heat and overall cooking power. The pyramid stack also minimizes smoke, which is another reason why it’s preferred.
Some grills come with a special charcoal stacker that you can use to create a pyramid (or near pyramid) shape. Dump your charcoal into the stacker, light the bottom, and you’re good to go! However, you don’t need this or any other item to create a pyramid stack. Regardless of the type and shape of your charcoal, you should be able to arrange it in the shape of a pyramid.
With your charcoal stacked in a pyramid shape, it’s time to light it. Strike your match and carefully hold it in the center of the stack, under the pyramid. Assuming the charcoal is dry, it should light with little effort. Lightly blowing on the match — just enough to encourage airflow — can also help it ignite.
If it’s not lighting, try lighting a piece of newspaper and then sticking the newspaper in the charcoal stack. Alternatively, you can use a long “grill lighter,” which are designed specifically for this purpose. Once you get the bottom of your charcoal pyramid lit, the rest should ignite. You can then sit back and wait as your charcoal heats up.
Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of how to stack charcoal for grilling. The key thing to remember is that you should create a pyramid shape for your charcoal when lighting it.
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