My burgers came off the grill tasting and smelling like lighter fluid. Are there any ways to reduce or remove the taste and smell from the leftovers? In the future I'm using one of those charcoal chimney starters, so I won't need any lighter fluid at all.

  • 2
    See, I told you not to feed lighter fluid to your cows!
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Jun 15, 2011 at 1:30
  • 1
    Keep cooking them 'til they're so charred that the burnt taste overrides the lighter taste? :)
    – Benjol
    Jun 15, 2011 at 6:28

3 Answers 3


If they're really thick burgers, like my dad used to make, it's possible that the inside isn't as bad if you slice off the outside. (and then maybe warm up, and break it up into something strongly flavored, like a tomato sauce heavy on the garlic) ...

... but it's likely that it's just a loss. Just remember -- learn from your mistakes, and be thankful that at least you didn't burn down anything (the house, a stove, etc.)

  • technically on-topic, but a lolcat: cheezburger.com/View/804904192 Jun 15, 2011 at 2:53
  • Make sure you don't squirt the fluid all over the grill. Keep it on the charcoal.
  • If you have to apply more fluid after you've lit it, you're doing it wrong. Douse the charcoal then wait a few minutes for it to soak in. This is a common mistake. People often pour on the fluid and immediately light it. It then burns away before the charcoal can ignite and they have to try again. You end up putting more fluid into the grill than is necessary.
  • Let it burn long enough to burn away all the lighter fluid. It sounds like you aren't letting the charcoal burn long enough before putting the burgers on the grill.
  • 2
    1+ everything I would have said except to possibly use real hardwood charcoal and wait until the coals no longer have any black spots on them. Jun 15, 2011 at 1:03
  • 5
    oh, except the real question what how to remove the flavor from already-cooked leftovers. I'd say just feed them to the dogs, myself. Jun 15, 2011 at 1:04
  • 2
    @OpenID: I realized that after posting. I almost deleted it, but had a change of heart. Also, I agree with you. If you've tainted your food that badly, toss it and try again.
    – raven
    Jun 15, 2011 at 2:37

Don't use it! Just use some newspaper in a metal mesh tube (chimney starter), or newspaper and some kindling wood for hard charcoals

If you want a liquid starter use Meths (methylated spirits, denatured alcohol, industrial alcohol), it leaves no taste or smell after the flames have gone. Pour out 1/2 cup over the charcoal heap. Let it soak for 20 seconds, stand back and flick a match in. Never add Mmeths once the fire has started

Lighter fluid is for liquid cigarette lighters, not for starting BBQ's. I suspect some bad TV cook show host used it instead of Meths for an instant start or 'safety', and the rest is history...

For a nicer smoke use seasoned hard wood pieces, not charcoal. It takes another 15 minutes to get going and to be fully burnt to embers. You don't need starter fluid of any type, just old newspaper and some kindling sticks

It tastes much nicer and you known what you are cooking from. Not all charcoal is 100% wood, at various times they have contained borax, coal, and nitrates

  • Methylated spirits are very volatile. You'll get a fireball over the coals, so be very careful. Jun 16, 2011 at 15:47

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