Extending The Burn Life of Your Barbecue

Extending Barbecue Burn Life

It’s a hot summer’s day and you’ve decided to have a barbecue. You spend the day before battling your way through the supermarket to pick up meat, or popping to your local butchers for some tastier cuts and supporting your local economy. Next you spend time preparing your food for cooking, while also getting utensils, sauces and the drinks on hand too. You begin to cook as people start arriving and everyone loves your food, except as you go to put the second batch of sausages on you find that your barbecue has sputtered out and is going cold. What has happened?

Is it rain? No, it’s more likely that the life of the fire just isn’t that long depending on various factors. Here’s what you can do to extend its life so you don’t end up disappointing your guests as you take the time to try and re-light it. Knowing my luck it would then start raining too!



Before you even strike the match to light your barbecue you should clean it properly. Your barbecue could be full of gunk like old food and bits of coal, which will lower the effectiveness of its burn and is pretty unhealthy to begin with. Get hold of a brush that has brass bristles, and use it to scrub off anything that shouldn’t be there. Rinse it off with hot water, and it can also be finished off with a can of barbecue polisher. It’s best to do all this straight after using your barbecue, but even if you do give your barbecue a quick clean if it’s been sitting there unused for months.


Pick the Best Charcoal

I would always recommend using charcoal over other substances such as wood chips or pellets; they burn better and, in my opinion, give the food a better taste. Higher quality charcoal will burn for a lot longer than cheap and often low quality, charcoal. Just a few quid more will effectively extend its life, hopefully getting you through the barbecue without a hitch.



Before you pour the coal, line the bottom of the grill with some aluminium foil, as this helps trap the heat in. A grate or pan (if provided) should also be placed at the bottom to keep the coal off the surface, which improves air flow and leads to a longer burn.

Next up, grab your coal and stack it into a pyramid shape so the coal is tightly packed and the heat stays close. Spray lighter fluid evenly across this stack and leave to burn for around 30 to 45 minutes. You’ll know when the coal is ready as it will be covered in a film of white ash, at which point you should spread the coal out evenly across the cooking area. Don’t add more lighter fuel past this point as you’ll just end up wetting the already burned parts and putting the fire out. Instead, move the coal around every few minutes to speed up heating and also prolong its ability to cook.

It may take some trial and error to get your exact cooking time perfect, but I think that’s the joy in barbecuing as not everything always goes perfectly to plan. I have more than a few burnt sausages to my name to know that.


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