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Lighting Charcoal

Depending on your type of grill or starter, some lighting methods work better than others. Try them out and let us know what works best for you.

Traditional chimney starter

Many of our customers use a traditional chimney starter to light their charcoal, adding newspaper or the layers of the Rockwood bag in the bottom of the chimney to start the fire. Once the smoke subsides and you can see flames, pour your charcoal into the grill or smoker. Waiting until the coals are glowing red may prematurely wear out your chimney starter and pose a burn risk for the chef.

Electricity starting coils

Electric starting coils also work well—just make sure you are using a coil designed for your particular grill. Remember that Rockwood charcoal lights fast, so don’t forget about the coil. Be ready to remove it before the fire gets too hot.

Starter sticks and gels

Some chefs use starter sticks, gels or other fire starters when they grill. If you try any of these products, make sure that they are all-natural and completely burned before you place any food on the grill.

Propane or MAP-Pro torches

Other customers report that using a propane torch shortens the start-up time considerably. However, please exercise caution when using a product like this. We recommend wearing safety glasses and gloves. Also, do not attempt to use torches near dry brush or on a wooden deck. As a general rule, light from the bottom for hotter fires; for lower temperature fires, light from the top.


For kamado owners: open the lower draft door and remove the cap before lighting. With the lid open, use any of the methods above. Once the white smoke has subsided, in 5-10 minutes, close the lid, open all draft doors and allow the kamado to do the rest of the work for you.

Extinguishing Charcoal Safety

Close the lid

Partially burned charcoal can be reused. To safely extinguish the charcoal after cooking, you must prevent oxygen from reaching it. So, it’s important to close the lid of the grill or smoker, as well as any vents or draft doors. Let the grill sit for a minimum of 48 hours before moving it inside or removing ash.

Keep the coals

Once the charcoal is extinguished, do not remove the coals from the grill. Just relight them in the grill when you’re ready to cook again and add more unburned charcoal as needed.

Avoid water

We do not recommend pouring water on smoldering charcoal to extinguish it. This can cause your grill or smoker to crack due to the thermal shock. It also increases the risk of burns from the steam that is released.

Smoking Tips

The best way to smoke meat is to take it slow and use low, indirect heat. By adding Rockwood Smoking Hardwoods you’ll imbue your meat with mouth-watering flavor. To get the ideal tenderness and that delicious caramelized crust, follow these recommendations.

Keeping meat moist

Too much hot air will dry out your meat and it’s important to keep it moist. If you discover that the temperature in your smoker is difficult to control, use a water pan to stabilize it and add the necessary humidity. Placing a large aluminum pan with a couple inches of water between your meat and your fire will help you get the moist, smoky heat you want. If you choose, you can mix the water with herbs, spices, apple cider or beer to add an extra layer of flavor. Note: this doesn’t apply to kamados.

Using the right smoking woods

As experienced smokers know, different woods can give meat different flavor profiles. We recommend trying all of our smoking hardwood products to find the blend that’s best for the type of meat you’re preparing. Remember that smoking takes considerably longer than grilling, so make sure you have enough wood on hand. For conventional wood smokers, denser wood chunks will last longer than chips or chunks.

Getting proper airflow and smoke

Controlling your airflow is another way to maintain the proper cooking temperature. It takes a bit of a learning curve to get the right amount of smoke for a flavor that’s delightfully rich without being bitter. For wood burning smokers, keep vents open to increase airflow, and adjust the vents to reduce the temperature. Varying the volume of wood you add can also help you control the amount of smoke you generate. Finally, be sure to watch your smoke. Streams of white smoke are good; puffs of black smoke are not.

In the End, It all comes Down to Quality

While not everything you smoke will be perfect, you can go a long way with a good cut of meat from a local butcher. Salt and season your meat, experimenting until you discover the flavor you like best. As you cook, remember to keep the smoker closed. Every time you open it up to check on your brisket or pork steak, you let heat and moisture escape, which results in inconsistent cooking temperatures and drier meat. Finally, take your time, enjoy a cold beverage and relax – knowing Rockwood is on your side.