Backyard cooks have several options at their disposal when it comes to lighting a charcoal grill:
When lighting the charcoal in your firepit grill table, there are a range of options to consider.
Charcoal lighting cubes
Propane or butane torches with a long handle
Metal charcoal chimneys
Electric charcoal starters
Lighter fluid is commonly used, but we do not recommend this technique because the lighter fluid can have a chemically smell and flavor due to the fact that it is made from petro-chemicals.
Especially with a grill table like JAG's design, you don't want the charcoal to absorb the lighter fluid and while burning inadvertently have the smoke and gases carry those chemicals to your food. For similar reasons, we recommend you grill with lump charcoal rather than briquettes. A briquette style of charcoal is full of artificial ingredients which negatively affect the taste and make disposing of the ash more complex.
What's the best way to pile your charcoal before lighting?
Some people pile their charcoal in a pyramid as a way to arrange it before lighting, particularly when lighting from the base. This is not an absolute requirement, however, a stack that is pyramid-shaped creates more connection and interaction between the individual pieces of charcoal, which consequently fosters quicker combustion. It should take about ten minutes after you light your charcoal pyramid (again, ideally lump charcoal) for all the pieces to be adequately burning when you can then use a metal poker or ash tool to spread them to the places in your JAG table grill where you want people to be able to cook. Remember that you can position the burning charcoal in (a) an even coat in places where you want to create consistent heat throughout your grill grates and/or (b) banked or piled in areas where you want to make the most of dual-temperature-zone grilling.
What's the best way to get your charcoal burning?
While lighting charcoal in your firepit grill is merely a matter of what you find most preferable, the location where you ignite your charcoal -- at the top or bottom of the pyramid -- will clearly impact heat efficiency and timing in your JAG grill. Igniting the top of the charcoal pyramid is the preferred option for low-heat and slower cooking since the reduced coals will light just as needed when the upper charcoal pieces burn down, letting you keep moderate temperatures for more extended period of time. Oppositely, igniting the pyramid from the bottom will grow quickly and light all of charcoal pieces from the bottom up as the heat rises and airflow increases, leading to quickly hot temperatures required for searing.
It is possible to use a starter chimney as well to get your JAG fire pit grill going. The charcoal chimney can be used to ignite an initial portion of charcoal pieces, and then you can simply deposit the hot coals held in the chimney on the top of your larger pyramid stack of charcoal for slower top-lighting. Or for quicker bottom lighting, you place the hot chimney coals on the bottom of your JAG grill table and add more unlit coals on top. It will quickly spread to the new coals, and you're on your way for fast BBQ and grilling adventures.