Tag Archives: blowtorch

Motor Oil and a Blowtorch


Grilling or smoking is a relatively straightforward endeavor. At least starting the fire is generally uncomplicated. Who am I kidding? There are as many varied ways to start fires as there are men with pyrotechnic tendencies.

I don’t normally spend time considering ignition methods of charcoal, but when I read Grilling Primer: Fuel and Fire, it triggered a childhood memory that showed me that my dad, though he is from Minnesota, is a redneck at heart.

I was born in Minnesota but spent the bulk of my life in the South. My brother and sister sound like Southerners, but growing up with my dad’s hyper-enunciation, I sound like a Yankee.

I tell you this because people usually connote rednecks strictly as southern jerry-riggers who replace fan belts with pantyhose and rely on duct tape for household repairs. A redneck is a master of backwater ingenuity.

My dad is very skilled with all around maintenance. I’ve seen him do electrical, plumbing, concrete, and even woodwork. It always looks professional. My dad, however, is deficient in the art of cooking.

This man has told me about his time as a cook in the National Guard, but his time as a cook was time wasted. I have had to eat some of the most horrendous concoctions. My dad and his Frankenstein foodstuffs are creative, but not ingenius. Actually his cooking is something that fever dreams and nightmares are made of. He fries great eggs, though. I suppose he had lots of practice growing up on an egg farm.

My dad approached grilling with a laissez faire attitude. He started the fire and put the meat on the grill. He would go watch tv until he smelled the food burning. Then it was time to eat.

We were out of lighter fluid this particular time. At least we had motor oil. He drowned the coals in 30 weight and put the torch to it. Yes, he balanced a blowtorch so that it would ignite the coals. Then he went to wait inside. It’s his tried and true method for grilling meat, only to start the fire to this time. My dad has had his share of sparks of brilliance, but that is one of the best (or worst).

Two summers ago the temperatures consistently hit 110. For me, grilling season is basically over if it’s 85 degrees. I was going to smoke some baby rack ribs, but I was out of lighter fluid and I wasn’t going to use motor oil. Sans propellant, I balanced my blowtorch so that the flame hit the coals just right. Then I went into the house to enjoy the cool a/c and watch tv.