Is Match Light Charcoal Bad For You?

Is Match Light Charcoal Bad For You?

As someone who loves grilling, I’ve always been curious about the charcoal I use for cooking.

And as I did my research, I came across the question, “Is Match Light Charcoal Bad For You?”. So, I decided to dive deep and find out the truth.

In this post, I will share my findings and give you a comprehensive answer to the question. Let’s get started!

Is Match Light Charcoal Bad For You?

It is safe to use Matchlight charcoal, but it is not recommended due to the presence of paraffin in the lighter fluid, which is a recognized carcinogen with the potential to cause cancer. Additionally, the chemical makeup of this type of charcoal can impact the taste of food cooked with it.

What is match light charcoal?

Kingsford charcoal in local grocery store
Kingsford charcoal in local grocery store

Match light charcoal is a type of briquette soaked in lighter fluid. It’s designed to make lighting charcoal easier and quicker with just a match, with no additional lighter fluid needed.

Match light charcoal is made from the same materials as standard charcoal briquettes, but it has the right amount of activator in it; this activator allows the briquettes to be easily ignited by a match or lighter.

Depending on the brands, the activator can be a form of paraffin, a petroleum product, or another similar substance. These are all flammable liquids that make it easy to light the charcoal.

What are the differences between charcoal and instant light charcoal?

The main difference between match light charcoal and plain charcoal is that the former contains lighter fluid while the latter doesn’t. This helps match-light coal ignite easily, but it also can produce more harmful chemicals when burned and affect the taste of your food. Another difference is that match light charcoal is more expensive than plain charcoal.

Main types of charcoalsMatch Light CharcoalBriquettesLump Charcoal
Lighting MethodPre-treated with lighter fluid for easy lightingRequires a fire starter for lightingRequires a fire starter for lighting
Burn TimeShorter burn time compared to briquettes and lump charcoalLongest burn time of the three, with a more consistent and even burnLonger burn time compared to match light charcoal with irregular burning patterns
FlavorCan impart a chemical taste to food due to the presence of lighter fluidCan impart a chemical taste to food due to added binders and fillersGenerally considered to produce the best flavor, with a pure, smoky taste
CostUsually the most expensive optionUsually the cheapest optionUsually cheaper than match light charcoal but more expensive than briquettes
Environmental ImpactContains lighter fluid, which can be harmful to the environmentUsually contains binders and fillers, which can release harmful chemicals into the environmentMade from pure, natural wood, with a lower environmental impact
This table explains the differences between match light charcoal, charcoal briquettes, and hardwood lump charcoal

How do you grill with match light charcoal?

light match-light coal with a match
light match-light coal with a match

To grill with match light charcoal, stack the charcoal in a pyramid shape and light one end of the charcoal with a match or lighter. Let the charcoal burn for 10 minutes until it turns gray and is covered with ash. Spread the charcoal flat on top of the bottom of your charcoal grill with tongs, then place the grilling grate over them to begin grilling.

Cooking with match light charcoal is no different from cooking over traditional charcoal, except that you don’t need a charcoal chimney to light the fire.

Since match light charcoal burns fast and hot, it can be used for cooking fast items like burgers, sausages, steaks, and chicken breasts.

Here’s how to grill with match light charcoal:

  1. Build a pyramid-shaped mound of coals and light it at four different angles.
  2. Let the coals burn until they have turned to ash (about 10 minutes).
  3. When your charcoal is fully covered in grey ash, spread it across the grill bottom and place the grate on top of your charcoal grills.

When you are lighting match light charcoal, do not add lighter fluid to it. Match light charcoal is already infused with lighter fluid; adding more could cause a dangerous explosion.

And if you have stored your charcoal for an extended period, it is important to check its condition before using it for grilling.

Can you mix and match light charcoal with regular charcoal?

Yes, you can mix and match light charcoal with regular charcoal. It will work just fine. If you don’t have a chimney starter on hand, put 5 to 6 pieces of match light charcoal on top of normal ones and use them as starters to get your coals going.

If you have just bought a bag of match light charcoal and read that using it might be bad for your health but don’t want to waste it, use some as a light starter when lighting regular charcoal.

The instant-light charcoal will get your little pile of coals going, and then once it’s lit, you can spread it out for cooking after.

By using the match light charcoal this way, you shouldn’t get a much lighter fluid taste at all after just using 5 or 6 pieces of match light charcoal; the regular ones take over well enough if you give them 15 minutes to burn off before cooking food.

What is the healthiest charcoal to use?

Hardwood lump charcoal is the healthiest charcoal to use because it doesn’t include any chemicals or additives that could be harmful to you. It’s more expensive than briquettes, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a clean burn and smoke that doesn’t leave behind any lingering odors.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, it’s clear that there are both pros and cons to using matchlight charcoal. While it’s safe to use and provides a convenient lighting option, the presence of paraffin in the lighter fluid concerns those worried about exposure to carcinogens.

Additionally, the chemical composition of the charcoal can impact the flavor of the food cooked with it.

So the decision to use match light charcoal is personal, and it’s up to each individual to weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision.

It’s important to consider factors such as personal health concerns, the environmental impact, and the food’s flavor.

I hope this post has provided you with valuable information to help you decide on using match light charcoal.

Happy grilling!

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