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Lighting Charcoal

PFSmithPFSmith Posts: 34
edited November -1 in EggHead Forum
I've been reading the different methods folks use to light their charcoal. I recently read threads about using 91% isopropyl alcohol as a fuel for lighting charcoal.

Sunday, I was cleaning up in the basement and picked up a can of denatured alcohol. Reading the label, I see that it is recommended for use as a fuel for alcohol fueled camp stoves, so I was wondering, since I have problems finding any isopropyl alcohol in a concentration higher than 70%, would this can of denatured alcohol be useful as a charcoal starting fuel?

Thanks!

Pat

Comments

  • psalzerpsalzer Posts: 106
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,170
    I can't really say what might be the outcome of using denatured alcohol, considering how many different things can be added to make the alcohol unpalatable/poisonous. What particular thing has to be burned off, and how much might sink into the Egg's ceramic body?

    An alternative easy light method is a few splashes of cooking oil on a rolled paper tower. I have tried both the isopropyl alcohol method, and the oil and towel. The oil on towel worked a lot better.

    When I run out of MAPP gas for my weed burner, I resort to the oil and towel method.
  • Egg JujuEgg Juju Posts: 658
    There is certainly more than one way to skin a cat, but the BGE fire-starters work like a charm for me. I have just enough time to have a cold one and a smokerette before the fire is ready.
    Large and Small BGE * www.quelfood.com
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    I can't see how it would hurt to try the stuff you found, especially since it is meant to work in cooking stoves.
    91% alcohol is generally available in the pharmacy dept at Wally World.
    I have tried them all and my method of choice is a MAPP torch. I bought [at Lowe's, I think] a Bernzomatic setup that consists of a 5ft hose connection between the nozzle and tank. I have had it about a year and am still on my first "fat boy" tank. Pretty efficeint, consdering I use my eggs 3-4 times a week. :) But whatever works for you, it is all good :cheer:
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 13,571
    This works for me except for the Mini:
    fa24ba16.jpg
    Salado TX Egg Family: 2 Large and a very well used Mini.... 5th Salado EggFest is March 14, 2015

  • Jersey DougJersey Doug Posts: 458
    I tried a chimney starter for the first time yesterday. Large BGE. I raked the old lump in the firebox to make sure the holes in the grate were not blocked, added some fresh lump on top and filled the chimney starter with fresh lump. Two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, chimney down on the lump, one match and it was smoking. In ten minutes I poured out the lump from the chimney and stirred it in a bit.

    Just at that point a fire department call came in. I closed the cover, set the draft door and daisy wheel for roughly 350 degrees and left for the call.

    I was back in just over an hour. The thermometer showed 325 degrees and the smoke was clear. I quickly prepped the chicken and sweet potatoes, tweaked the settings to raise the temperature just a bit, and we were cooking.

    The big deal here was that I was able to walk away from the Egg ten minutes after I struck the match. I've never been able to do that starter cubes or oiled paper towels.
  • thebtlsthebtls Posts: 2,300
    I'll probably take a beat down here for this comment because I know people swear by the alcohol lighting method; however, working in a hospital with a burn center I see good things go bad DAILY and MOST are 'accidents in the home'.

    I'm voting against lighting alcohol for ANY reason personally for use in or around the egg for sure.

    Just so many things that can go wrong. , it's impossible for you to not get it on your hands or gloves then you have to get a match to it somehow...and remember you are essentially lighting a fire in a mini wind tunnel that does have the potential to flare up at any time based on conditions.

    It is just not the place I would skimp to save a few pennies to light a fire for sure. I don't get it anyway because these things are NOT that hard to light and there are so may other slightly safer options.
    Visit my blog, dedicated to my Big Green Egg Recipies at http://www.bigtsbge.blogspot.com
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  • JerzeeJerzee Posts: 84
    I agree with Tony - the use of liquids as fire starting aids opens up many possibilities for accidents. Be careful!

    Like Mickey, I'm a proponent of the weed torch. Had to use that propane tank I removed from my sorry old gas grill anyway. :P
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    As you can see from the above responses and previous posts there are a lot of different and preferred methods of lighting the lump.

    A forum member took the time to video a how to session on using alcohol to light the lump and posted them on youtube. I searched out the links and will put them below.

    I cook at 5,000' elevation and have found I had to modify the instructions. For me using 70% alcohol was a waste of time. Isopropyl alcohol will work fine.

    Alcohol is extreme flammable and caution must be followed to avoid harm to the eggr's friends.

    It is suggested to use 80cc (2 oz) of isopropyl alcohol. For me that will work but I have found I have to use double that amount. On the large and medium egg I use 80cc in a 6" to 8" circle left of center and again right of center. After applying the alcohol to the lump I wait about 10 seconds before lighting with a match. I immediately close the dome after lighting. Don't get tempted to close the dome and drop a match down the top vent - you will get an explosion from the fumes.

    For me isopropyl alcohol is the cleanest way to light the egg. It is not the least expensive. The light will act much like starter cubes or paper towel method. That is a high temperature spike, rapid fall and slow build up at which time I set the vents.

    Mickey's post of using a flame trower (weed burner) is a great way to light the egg and extremely fast. A large can be lit and stable burning at about 350° within 1 minute. Works great on the large and medium. Caution should be taken when lighting the small and especially the mini. If on is not careful the flame thrower is one of the best gasket removers available. Being careful it is a great way to light the egg with little or no draw backs.

    MAPP or Propane gas. Both gasses will work fine. If you intend to use propane make sure you have or buy a head that will allow the propane to burn with the bottle inverted. MAPP is 30% hotter than propane and the bottle will burn inverted. This too is a great way to light the egg with one big draw back. You will burn clothing with the sparks. It can/will produce the sparks as shown in Mickey's post above.

    Paper towel (napkin) and oil is another great way to light and one of the least expensive methods.

    Starter cubes work well, are costly, leave a cube smoldering which can leave an undesirable order in the food.

    If it is freezing or below I will sue the flame thrower to light. Other than that I use alcohol. I have MAPP/Propane if needed. I have a small bottle of cooking oil and paper towels in the egg cabinet and 1 box of starter cubes as a backup.

    The syringe can be located at any pharmacy. Ask for the 80cc syringe that is used with a catheter. I have a stopper but don't use it. I put my finger over the bottom of the syringe and fill it up from the quart bottle of alcohol. Then move the syringe over the lump and release in the small circle. Refill and repeat on the other side of center.

    Here is the links to the videos. Hope this answers your questions.

    Video - Part 1

    Video - Part 2

    GG
  • Grandpas GrubGrandpas Grub Posts: 14,226
     
    One does have to pay attention to what they are doing when using alcohol.

    However, filling the syringe away from the egg and light by tossing the stick match into the egg, dome open not down the upper vent.

    Of course if your hand get wet from the alcohol don't strike that match.

    There are a lot of options for lighting the egg if one is worried.

    GG
  • Jersey DougJersey Doug Posts: 458
    I tried a chimney starter for the first time yesterday. Large BGE. I raked the old lump in the firebox to make sure the holes in the grate were not blocked, added some fresh lump on top and filled the chimney starter with fresh lump. Two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, chimney down on the lump, one match and it was smoking. In ten minutes I poured out the lump from the chimney and stirred it in a bit.

    Just at that point a fire department call came in. I closed the cover, set the draft door and daisy wheel for roughly 350 degrees and left for the call.

    I was back in just over an hour. The thermometer showed 325 degrees and the smoke was clear. I quickly prepped the chicken and sweet potatoes, tweaked the settings to raise the temperature just a bit, and we were cooking.

    The big deal here was that I was able to walk away from the Egg ten minutes after I struck the match. I've never been able to do that starter cubes or oiled paper towels.
  • gte1gte1 Posts: 374
    I used the chimney for the 1st time the other day also. Fastest, eaisest method I have tried yet. Cheapest also, chimneys are inexpensive and newspaper is free.
    George
  • Bear 007Bear 007 Posts: 343
    I like using my propane torch, just watch the sparks!
    DSC_5130-Edit.jpg
  • EubletEublet Posts: 54
    I certainly respect that alcohol is flamable and dangerous, and that accidents can happen, but honestly and with all due respect, if you can't manage a couple ounces of rubbing alcohol and match then you should also forfeit your drivers license. Alcohol is by far the easiest, fastest and safest way I know of to light a BGE. Using a MAPP torch has WAY more potential to throw a spark and put out an eye.

    If you want to use alcohol, then just decide up front that you'll follow a few rules every time you do it, and you'll be more than fine. For the record, I typically only use 91% in the colder winter months. I leave the bottle on the bottom shelf, so it gets cold and doesn't combust as easily. It works great in winter. On the Gulf coast, it can be a bit too combustible in the hot summer months, even in small quantities (though it's easy to control still). So I often use 70% in the summer, and just use a little bit more of it.

    The key is to NEVER just poor a bunch on . Use some kind of measuring cup. 2-3 ounces is plenty, and spread it in the center over a 6" radius. Wait 45-60 seconds, light match and toss it onto the lump without hovering over it. It'll flame up pretty quick. After throwing the match, I put on an elbow-length glove, and lower the dome. 10 minutes later, the grill is around 350 degrees. What's easier than that?

    Again, this isn't gasoline, but you should be careful. So again, measure it in a cup, and put the bottle away before lighting anything. Give it about a minute to absorb into the lump, which also prevents huge flare-ups. Use a match and toss it onto the lump. Do NOT drop it into a closed egg from the top. You'll never have an issue if you do this. Much safer than a torch. If you feel like you can't do something this simple, then really, turn in your drivers license and stay off the road also. :laugh:
  • I used a piece of velveta one day it burns really good you would be amazed.
  • DnormanDnorman Posts: 117
    Mickey this is the same method I like to use, but I dont use the rose bud, I just have the standard tip.
  • For a cheap, easy method, all you need is candle wax, lint, and wax paper from cereal. See this link
  • PFSmithPFSmith Posts: 34
    Thanks for all the help. I have two propane torches - one is the flame thrower that attaches to a propane tank and the other uses the smaller tanks of propane or MAPP, is shaped like a Shepard's crook and is about three feet long. Its helpful in avoiding the sparks that the lump kicks out, but doesn't light the coal as fast as the larger model.

    I keep lighter cubes and have chimney starters, but wanted to try the alcohol method and since I have this can of denatured alcohol that I probably will never use otherwise, I was just wondering "what the heck....."

    Thanks again for all the help and suggestions.

    Pat
  • Rutland makes starter cubes that look and perform identical to the BGE cubes. Available at ACE 144 cubes for $13.
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