There are many ways to start a charcoal fire. But there is only one best way, and only one worst way.
The worst way. Please don’t use starter fluid, mineral spirits, gasoline, kerosene, or any hydrocarbons. They soak into the coals and emit a stink that I can smell from blocks away. And when I smell it I want to march over to my neighbor with a fire extinguisher and a link to this page.
And let’s not talk about how many sleeves have caught fire while trying to light coals with fluid and a cigarette lighter, and if your fire doesn’t get off to a roaring start please please don’t squirt it with starter fluid unless you’ve been wanting to see how the inside of the hospital’s burn unit looks.
And stay away from the easy lighting products. Just open the bag and smell. They are soaked in mineral spirits. All the way to the core. So petroleum products are in the smoke right to the end. And you can taste it in the food.
I don’t know if the gases from combusting charcoal starter fluid are a health hazard (other than having me march over to your house and get up in your grill), but I can absolutely smell and taste it in the food. I prefer salt and pepper thank you.
“We didn’t start the fire, It was always burning, Since the world’s been turning.” Billy Joel