As you’ve probably realized, there are plenty of differences between a ceramic grill like the Kamado, and other kinds of grills. But, no matter what kind of grill you use, there is a lot of controversy around the idea of using lighter fluid in your grill. And, while I’m sure everyone has their own opinion, let’s just get one thing absolutely clear:
You should NEVER use lighter fluid in your Kamado, or any other ceramic grill.
There; I’ve said it. It’s out in the open now. I’m sure some of you will likely disagree with me. “But it burns away!” “Some top BBQ champions use it!” “I have never noticed a difference!” The list of arguments goes on and on. However, that doesn’t change the fact that adding lighter fluid to your Kamado or Big Green Egg is a bad idea.
Why, you ask?
I’m sure I don’t have to explain that ceramic is porous material, which means that it will absorb any and all liquids that come into contact with it, right? It might seem like common sense that lighter fluid, which is all chemicals, is a liquid and therefore it will be absorbed into the inner ceramic parts of your Kamado and give your food a strange taste.
“Not if you let it burn away!” I can hear someone whinging repetitively. Sure, I’ll bite. If you left your grill open so that air could circulate through, and let the fluid burn through completely, it might burn all of the excess away. But, that would sort of defeat the purpose of using lighter fluid, wouldn’t it? I mean, the whole idea is to make your grill light faster, right? So if you instead have to let it burn out before doing anything, then you’ll just have to restart it again to actually cook anything. See where I’m going with this?
Also, even the manufacturers have said that you shouldn’t use lighter fluid in your grill. It’s right in the manual (page 3). If you have a Big Green Egg, then you’ll actually find that doing so will void your warranty. And if the people who make the grill say you shouldn’t do it, then maybe you should listen.
I personally have never used lighter fluid in my grills, although my father did on our outdoor grill when I was little. I admit that I can’t remember ever tasting a difference, as he let the coals burn white before cooking anything. However, Kamados work differently than open-air grills or regular charcoal grills. So please, put the lighter fluid down slowly and step away. There are better and safer ways to light your grill.