The One Thing Guy Fieri Says You Should Never Use When Cooking

Guy Fieri, host of Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives or triple D as it is affectionately nicknamed, created a smorgasbord of laws that reside in his fictional culinary world known as Flavortown. What is Flavortown? Fieri explained to Food Network, "It's taking these iconic food items, these iconic food moments, and giving them a home. They all live in Flavortown. It's like one of those things in The Matrix: You can only get down with Flavortown if you believe in Flavortown." Why do we care?

Well, some of these laws, like don't be afraid to make mistakes and it's okay to practice moderation, are empowering, affirming, and encouraging for anyone who finds cooking challenging. Other Flavortown rules are a little more intuitive, i.e. know who you are cooking for and cook appropriately; and still others like his rule of three for bacon are pure genius. But the one that has us talking today is the one that focuses on something Fieri says we should never use. What could it possibly be? If you are a novice or even an expert when it comes to barbecuing and grilling, it might surprise you to learn, Fieri says you want to stay clear of lighter fluid. Here's why.

Lighter fluid alters the flavor of your food

Using lighter fluid to fire up your grill may be convenient when you are trying to get a fire going, but it can also alter the way your food tastes. Seriously. Fieri told Parade, "The most common problem is not cooking with enough fire or cooking over coals that haven't established themselves. But using lighter fluid, I think, is the biggest mistake people make. It's nasty and you don't want it in your food." But even if it didn't change the flavor of your foods, lighting fluid is dangerous, and per Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, it can be hazardous to children. Not to mention, according to Eco Charcoal, lighter fluid is also not that great for the environment.

We know, it's such an easy way to get the grill going. What can you do instead? Don't worry, Fieri is not going to leave you hanging — he has a solution. The chef shared with Parade, "Get some real charcoal, something that's got wood in it, and none of that self-lighting stuff. Then use a charcoal chimney starter. It's the greatest thing ever. You load your paper in the bottom, put your favorite type of charcoal on the top, and light." So the next time you are lighting your grill, skip the lighter fluid. If you're accustomed to using it, you should know what's really in lighter fluid.

Lighter fluid contains hydrocarbons

Still not convinced by this Flavortown rule? We hear you. Unless you are an Eagle Scout, it's tough to give-up lighter fluid to get those charcoals going. Seriously, it is probably how you remember your grandparents and parents getting the grill lit for your family's fun-filled backyard parties in the spring and summer. But before you let nostalgia get in the way of following Guy Fieri's sound advice, we think there's another reason you should consider it. Even if the fact that lighter fluid alters your food's taste doesn't persuade you to do so, we think this reason might. Eco Charcoal notes that charcoal lighter fluid might actually be bad for you.

Apparently, lighter fluid contains hydrocarbons, and they don't just get absorbed into the charcoal. Any hydrocarbons that do not break down go into your food, and well, you guessed it, into your mouth. Is it probably a minuscule amount? Possibly. But yuck if you are trying to live clean and green. Eco Charcoal goes on to point out that these hydrocarbons are not natural and there's a reason why lighter fluid is regulated. It can apparently create photochemical smog — you know that brownish-gray haze you sometimes see in the sky — and no one wants that (via Atmospheric Environment).

Skipping lighter fluid may be cheaper down the road

But if none of those reasons to stop using lighter fluid speak to you, maybe this one will: You can save when you stop using lighter fluid. Okay, we know what you're thinking. How much can you really save by forgoing your charcoal lighter fluid? Fair question, if you are going to have to learn how to rub two sticks together to get that flame going, you need to feel like the sacrifice is worth it. Just kidding, no rubbing of sticks will be required.

Eco Charcoal and a blogger at Primal Grilling are both onboard and fully support Fieri's recommendation of buying a charcoal or chimney starter, explaining that the purchase, while expensive initially, will end up being cheaper in the long run. Primal Grilling notes that a charcoal chimney starter will run you about $14.99 at a local hardware store. With an estimated $1.40 savings per pound when you eschew the instant coal for lump coal, you are looking at a 275 percent savings over time in charcoal. Not to mention, you will no longer have to spend time building your charcoal pyramid to get the fire going and can just pour the lump coal right into the chimney starter, saving you more time to enjoy the foods of your grilling labor. Sounds like reason enough to follow Fieri's no lighter fluid rule.