How To Get Charcoal Grill Hotter?[Complete Guide]

Do you have a charcoal grill sitting in your garage collecting dust? Or are you the one giving excuses to avoid a BBQ party at your home just because you cannot use the grill and don’t know how to get charcoal grill hotter? Many people throw away their grills because they cannot adjust their temperature.

Well, if you learn the proper techniques and carefully use all the tips in this article, you can master the art of grilling, and as a bonus, you will win the hearts of your friends and family too.

How To Get Charcoal Grill Hotter?

How To Keep a Charcoal Grill Hot

Most grills should reach a surface temperature of about 500 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, you’ll be able to grill delicious meats with a charred exterior and juicy, well-cooked interior.

The burning charcoal or wood temperature will likely be higher than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It is fairly common for burning charcoal or wood to reach 2,000 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. But your meat won’t be directly exposed to the fire as cooking grates are typically placed several inches over the fire.

If your grill isn’t getting hot enough, you would think that you will need to turn up the temperature by turning a knob for the respective burner. Sadly, charcoal grills don’t have buttons or temperature control knobs.

For that, we will share different ways how to get the charcoal grill hotter.

1- Use Kiln Dried Wood

If you want wood for an added flavor, you should choose kiln-dried wood as it retains the most temperature. All types of wood contain moisture in their pores, but some wood has significantly higher amounts of moisture than others.

Due to low moisture content, Kiln dried wood burns hot. In this process, the wood is placed inside a large drying oven known as a kiln. Inside the kiln, moisture is forced out of the pores of the wood. The result is kiln-dried wood.

Kiln-dried wood is more accessible to light and burns hotter than other types of wood. Choosing kiln-dried rather than fresh, green or air-dried wood also allows one to grill or cook food using more heat.

2- Add More Lighter Fluid

Using extra lighter fluid can reduce the pre-heating time, allowing the fire to burn off faster than it usually would. Moreover, once you apply lighter fluid, close the lid quickly so that a large number of hot air traps inside which will further accelerate the process.

3- Pre-Heating the Grill

Pre-heating your grill before cooking makes a huge difference in the overall cooking time and temperature levels. Ensure to heat your grill for at least 10-20 minutes before placing food on the grates.

4- Use of Fire Starters That Burn Hotter

You can also try using fire starters that burn hotter than others. Fire starters may be paraffin wax cubes, charcoal lighter fluid and gasoline. All of them release more heat than standard fire starter blocks.

5- Keep the Lid Closed

When using the grill, keep the lid closed so that the heat remains trapped inside. After adding meat to the grate, close the lid and don’t open it again until you need to turn over the meat. It will help to raise and maintain the heat.

Because every time you open the lid, heat will escape from the grill. So, leave the lid closed if you want to achieve a surface temperature of 500 to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit for the meat to cook perfectly.

Also, make sure, whenever you open the lid, to keep it quick and short. This is the easiest way how to get charcoal grill hotter. Another essential factor to consider during grilling is that vents must remain open, or the fire will die without fresh air.

Pro-tip: Slightly Close Your Lid while Pre-heating:

The trapped hot air allows for a faster pre-heat time and maintains that heat during cooking. During preheating, slightly close the lid of your charcoal grill. It will burn hotter as the oxygen is restricted by only leaving a small opening.

How To Make Charcoal Grill Hotter with Vents?

How To Make Charcoal Grill Hotter with Vents

Dampers are the adjustable air vents on your grill. There are usually two dampers on a charcoal grill. One is on the top of the lid, whereas the other damper is located on the bottom section of the grill.

The role of dampers in a grill is to provide better control over the grill’s temperature. When they are closed, air cannot enter the grill’s fuel compartment. And without fresh air, the fire will eventually die.

When the dampers are open, the fire will attract fresh air, resulting in burning charcoal or wood at even a hotter temperatures. Fresh air is fuel for burning wood or charcoal, which will make the grill hotter.

1-   Avoid Blocking Dampers

Be careful while adding charcoal or wood to your grill so that you don’t accidentally block the dampers located around the fuel compartment. Always position your charcoal or wood away from the damper.

There should be at least 1 inch of space between the charcoal or wood and the damper. If it is any closer to the damper, it may obstruct airflow, resulting in lower grill temperatures.

2-   Use Lump Charcoal

Another critical factor in keeping your grill hot is the choice of charcoal used. The purer the charcoal, the hotter it is. It is always recommended to use lump charcoal rather than briquettes.

·        Pros And Cons

Lump charcoal is made up of large blocks of almost pure carbon. Thus burns at hotter temperatures leave less ash residue, thus easier to clean and do not produce an unpleasant chemical smell.

Although readily available, charcoal briquettes consist of burned sawdust and other particles held together with a binding agent, leaving ash residue and making it much harder to clean.

3-   Add Food Directly Over Coals

Place your meat directly over the coals to achieve the hottest cooking temperature. If you place your meat left or right side of the grate, where it is not directly over the fire, it probably won’t get hot enough to sear the exterior.

4-   Use Cast Iron Grate

The type of metal your grill’s grate is made of also affects the temperature at which your meat cooks. Mostly, grill grates are made up of steel or cast iron. Steel grates usually cost less and are portable, but they do not retain heat as cast-iron grates.

Cast iron has high thermal conductivity. It absorbs and holds heat better than other metals. Thus, you can make your grill hotter by switching from a steel grate to a cast iron grate which is the appropriate size for your grill.

5-   Lower the Grate

You can make your grill hotter by lowering the grate. The higher the grate is, the lower the temperature will be at which your meat will cook. Thus, you can achieve a higher grill temperature by reducing the distance between the meat and the fire.

6-   Use Fresh Charcoal

If your charcoal grill needs to get hotter, try using dry and relatively new charcoal. Half-burnt briquettes will only last you half as long, so try to start with fresh, whole charcoal if you want to cook long and need hotter grills.

How To Keep a Charcoal Grill Hot?

How To Keep a Charcoal Grill Hot

Sometimes, ash from burning coals blocks the airflow leading to reduced heat. Make sure to keep an eye on the ash and empty it as needed or especially when you are doing a long cook. Here’s how you clean your air vents.

Step 1- Let the vents cool down.

Step 2- Mix some mild soap with warm water to make a cleaning solution.

Step 3- Clean the vents with the solution and gently scrub off any ash left that may be clogging the pores.

Step 4- Allow the grill to dry completely before using it again.

How To Cool Down Charcoal Grill?

How To Cool Down Charcoal Grill

Charcoal provides heat, but it can also get boiling. Sometimes you want the grill to be hot for cooking, and other times you need to cool down overheated charcoal quickly after you are done. Here are some ways to cool down the grill.

1.    Quickest Way- Use Water or Sand:

The quickest way to cool down your grill is to throw water. Or you can put plenty of sand on the coals. It should be a manageable amount, though. The use of sand makes this process cleaner as well.

2.    Cool Down with Ice

Cover your charcoal grill with aluminum foil, then put a few chunks of ice on top of the foil. It will cool down the coals quickly, and this method won’t be heavy on your pocket.

Or you can also fill a plastic bottle halfway with water and put it near the bottom of your coal covering. Just make sure the water won’t drip. The steam will cool down your coals very effectively.

3.    Use of Wind

If you are doing a barbecue on a breezy day, then the easiest way to cool down your charcoal grill is to put it in front of the wind. It will make the fire die quicker.

FAQ- How to Get Charcoal Grill Hotter?

You can get a charcoal grill to 500 degrees by opening the vents. It will allow airflow, causing fire to burn quickly, thus ensuring high temperatures.


You can find the perfect balance between cooking time and flavour with a bit of preparation and knowledge about how grills work. So, give these tips a try on how to get charcoal grill hotter and fire up your barbecue.