Here’s How to Start a Charcoal Fire For a Braai

Starting a charcoal fire for a braai can be intimidating for those who have never done it before, but it’s pretty simple once you are familiar with the steps.

Here’s a guide on how to help you light a charcoal fire if you have never had the privilege to do so.

First, gather your supplies. You’ll need a bag of charcoal, a fire starter, and a lighter or matches. A small bag of charcoal should suffice if you have a small braai or are just cooking for one or two people. If you have a larger braai or are cooking for a larger group, you may need a larger bag.

Next, find a flat, stable surface to set up your braai. This could be a patio, deck, or even in the bush while camping. Ensure the surface is away from flammable materials, such as trees or bushes, and that there is plenty of ventilation. Also, check your local fire conditions and restrictions to ensure you can make a fire.

Now it’s time to get your fire started. We use a white ‎Paraffin block that can be broken into smaller pieces. It can be purchased from most local supermarkets and can start several fires. We do not use the wax fire starters as they do not produce enough flame to ignite the coals quickly, and they struggle to burn in high winds.

Place a few blocks of starters on the bottom of the braai, then add a handful of charcoal. Once the fire starters and charcoal are in place, light the fire starters using a lighter or matches. The fire starters will catch fire and begin to heat the charcoal. Next, add more charcoal to ensure you can cover the entire base of your braai with coals. As the charcoal heats up, it will eventually ignite and burn. This process can take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the braai and the charcoal you use.

While waiting for the charcoal to ignite, prepare the food or tools you’ll need for your braai while enjoying a couple of beers. This might include our famous Curry Sosaties (Kebabs), Pap en Sous (Polenta) or a Braai Potjie. (BQQ Stew).

Once the charcoal has ignited, it’s time to spread it out evenly using a pair of tongs or a poker stick. This will ensure that the heat is distributed evenly and the food is cooked evenly. Wait for 90% of the coals to turn orange with a light grey colour, leaving 10% of the charcoal to ignite still to ensure you have enough coals for your entire braai. If you braai something that needs to cook for a couple of hours, like a big lamb rib, continue adding chunks of charcoal as required, considering that it will take some time to ignite, so make sure you get your timing right to prevent a cold useless fire.

Once the charcoal is hot enough for your prepared food, it’s time to start cooking. Place your food on the braai grid and enjoy snapping those tongs.

And that’s it! You’ll be able to light a charcoal fire for a braai confidently. But remember to use caution, check your local fire conditions, and wear protective gear when handling hot charcoal.

Nou Gaan OZ Braai!

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