Lighters and fuels for barbecues and fireplaces

Lighters and fuels for barbecues and fireplaces

Making a good fire depends largely on two things: the quality of the fuel used and a good ignition, especially to avoid constantly trying to get it started. As there are different methods and products for lighting a barbecue, we thought it would be a good idea to dedicate an article to this topic. So, the next time you want to start a fire, you’ll know which option is best for you.

HotFireDoor’s selection of ignitions and fuels


Firelighters are possibly the most well-known. They are made from different materials, such as recycled wood fibre or petroleum derivatives. The process is the same in any case.

You need to place the wood or charcoal properly, take a firelighter and light one of the edges. Before it ignites completely, carefully because it’s quick, insert the firelighter between the wood to facilitate the spread of the flame. For large fires, more than one firelighter may be needed.

Some firelighters do not require matches or a lighter, as they have a match head that ignites like a normal match, by rubbing the edge of the box.

Flammable liquid

Firestarter liquids are similar to alcohol, although somewhat different in their composition and other characteristics. Although alcohol can be used as a fire starter liquid, it’s better to use a liquid developed specifically for this purpose. To use it, pour a good stream of the liquid onto the fuel and light it as usual. Be careful because a flame can jump up.

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Firelighter gel

Similar to liquid, firelighter gel is used in almost the same way. It is applied to part of the fuel used to start the fire and a small flame ignites it. The best thing about this is that it doesn’t give off odors, just like the liquid.

Fireplace Safety

Other methods

There are other methods for starting a fire, such as briquettes, which come in a bag and all you have to do is light the edges, leaving 20 to 30 minutes for the embers to form. They are typically used for barbecues, not for a fireplace, as the goal, in this case, is not to keep the fire going.

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There’s also the classic paper ball lit with a match or lighter. Although in this case, you have to be careful and it doesn’t always catch on the first try.

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What is the best method?

Liquid and gel are the fastest and give the best results. They never fail and guarantee a fire in just a few minutes. Although they are not cheap compared to other methods, and you need a larger amount of product than with pellets, for example.

In any case, you have many options to start a fire in your fireplace or barbecue. Depending on the time of year, you will surely prefer to use one or the other. How do you usually start your fires?

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Fire Starters

Fire starters

Fire starters are devices or substances designed to facilitate the process of starting a fire by providing a concentrated and prolonged source of heat that facilitates the ignition of the fuel. Among the most common fire starters are:

  • Firelighters: compressed fuel material, such as paraffin or petroleum derivatives, which burn slowly and facilitate the ignition of wood or charcoal.
  • Wood shavings: small pieces of dry and resinous wood that facilitate initial combustion.
  • Steel wool: steel filaments that, when in contact with a spark or flame, burn quickly, allowing wood or charcoal to be easily ignited.
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Lighters are portable devices that generate a flame to light fires or cigarettes. They usually run on gas or liquid fuels and can be rechargeable or disposable. Some examples of lighters include:

  • Butane lighters: run on butane gas (C4H10), a flammable hydrocarbon that is stored in liquid state under pressure in the lighter’s tank and vaporizes when it exits the ignition hole.
  • Gasoline lighters: use gasoline (a mixture of hydrocarbons) as fuel. The gasoline is stored in a wick inside the lighter’s tank and is ignited when it comes into contact with a spark generated by a flint.
  • Electric lighters: generate an electric spark or arc that ignites the fuel.


Matches are sticks made of wood, paper, or cardboard with a tip coated with a chemical mixture that ignites when rubbed against a rough surface. There are two main types of matches:

  • Safety matches: require being rubbed against a specific surface, usually present in the container itself, made up of red phosphorus (P4) and an oxidizing agent (such as potassium chlorate, KClO3).
  • Strike-anywhere matches: ignite when rubbed against any rough surface, as the chemical mixture in the tip contains both the phosphorus and the oxidizing agent.



Firewood is a solid fuel obtained from trees and shrubs. It is commonly used in fireplaces, stoves, and barbecues. The quality of the firewood depends on the tree species, moisture content, and wood density. We have a post on firewood or charcoal for barbecues that may interest you.


Charcoal is a solid fossil fuel composed mainly of carbon (C) and small amounts of other elements, such as hydrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and nitrogen. It is used in barbecues and grills due to its high heating capacity and long combustion duration.

The flue in a stove or fireplace


Briquettes are compact blocks of combustible material, usually made from crushed charcoal, coal dust, sawdust, and other binding additives. They offer a more uniform and controlled combustion compared to firewood or lump charcoal.

Wood pellets

Wood pellets are small cylinders of compressed wood made from sawdust and wood chips without any chemical additives. They are primarily used in pellet stoves and biomass boilers to generate heat. Pellets have a high heating value and produce fewer emissions than firewood.

Natural gas

Natural gas is a gaseous fuel composed mostly of methane (CH4) and small amounts of other hydrocarbons, such as ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8), and butane (C4H10). It is used in barbecues and gas fireplaces to generate heat quickly and efficiently, with fewer pollutant emissions than solid fuels.


Propane (C3H8) is a gaseous hydrocarbon that is stored in liquid state under pressure. It is used as a fuel for barbecues and portable gas stoves due to its high calorific value and ease of transport in cylinders and tanks.


Bioethanol is an alcohol (ethanol, C2H5OH) produced from biological sources, such as the fermentation of sugars and starches present in crops such as corn, sugarcane or sugar beet. It is used in stoves and bioethanol fireplaces due to its ability to generate a clean and smoke-free flame, as well as being a renewable energy source.


Gasoline is a flammable liquid composed of a mixture of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum. Although it is not a fuel commonly used in barbecues or fireplaces, it can be used in certain types of lighters and as an accelerant in specific situations. However, its use in these contexts can be dangerous and is generally not recommended due to its high volatility and risk of fire.