Charcoal briquettes are usually used in barbeque grills to cook outdoors. Ask someone who uses gas about charcoal, and prepare for a rant. Ask someone who uses charcoal about gas, and prepare for a holy war.

Charcoal is burned wood. Charcoal Briquettes are chunks of burned wood with additives. Some of the most common additives are powdered charcoal, anthracite coal for long burning, limestone to create white ash, starch as binders, and sawdust and sodium nitrate for quick lighting. Some of these additives, coal in particular, can impart an oily flavor to the foods cooked, if the charcoal is the cheap sort.

How to start charcoal:
Build a pyramid of briquettes. Douse liberally in lighter fluid. Wait 30 seconds for the lighter fluid to soak in. Light the pile in several places. Leave the lid of the grill open until the flames go away. By this time, the briquettes should be greyish around the edges. Close the lid of the grill, leaving the little portholes open to encourage airflow. When the charcoal is uniformly covered in a light grey, powdery coating, the grill is ready and you can slap your food on there.

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