Using old cooking oil on New Year’s Day

January 1, 2011

Yeah, I know. I don’t care. I have a life too, you know?

Broke out the barbeque for the first time this summer, on New Years’s Day. It’s a charcoal grill, so that means a certain amount of boy scout ingenuity is required to get a good fire.

I’ve never liked firelighters or lighter fluid for this purpose. They smell funny, and although I suppose all the petrochemicals have burned off by the time you put the meat on, I find the taint of plastic off-putting and inappropriate.

Hitherto I have used crumpled newspaper and kindling to lay a conical fire in the approved manner. This can be a bit slow and I find it a little nerve-wracking. Today I had a brainwave. I have egg cartons, and I have old cooking oil. (Of course I have a jar of old oil from frying chicken in the fridge. Who doesn’t?) What would happen if I put a half centimetre of crummy rancid friend chicken oil in each egg cell, built a charcoal pyramid atop it, and lit the carton?

What happens is that you have a damned good fire. That’s what happens. How virtuous. Better than recycling it this way.

Oh yeah, don’t put fat down the drain either.


  1. Happy New Year! We broke our gas BBQ out on New Year’s Eve so weren’t doing any sort of recylcling there. On a good note, it is nice to know that we have a working option in case of the next aftershock taking out power for a while! Note: Must find a good billy for the emergency kit. Suggestions?

  2. Our awesome new BBQ came with a charcoal chimney, these things are shizz, very easy to start your fire with no accelerants at all. I think they’re quite expensive on their own, but our bbq was reduced to $88, so it was a bloody good thing to get (almost) free.

  3. The correct way to light a coal (or charcoal) fire is to lay your fuel evenly over it’s grate and then build a small file of paper or other easily combustible material on top of it.

    The small fire heats the fuel underneath releasing combustible gasses that ignite and continue to burn.

    When you pile your fuel on top of your small fire as we are tempted to do much is lost as it is heated before igniting as wafts away wasted.

    It is more efficient, faster and cleaner to burn from the top down rather than trying to ignite fires from beneath.

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