Do you ever barbecue food in a grill? We had barbecues all time, as I grew up in the suburbs of Long Island (Wyandanch, to be specific). Lots of family would come over, and my dad would "man" the grill -- pretty much the only time he cooked.
It's funny - when I grew up, barbecuing was the dad's job. But in my family, the mom, my wife, is definitely the main barbecuer. It's not that I can't do it. Heck, I can do it. It's just that Veva is so much better at it, than I am. Her barbecued chicken is always moist on the inside. Hey, she even barbecues an entire turkey for Thanksgiving. Delightful!
Anyway, the barbecues were wonderful, all the cousins playing in the backyard, the grownups hanging out on the patio. One Uncle Max would tell jokes, another Uncle Max would do magic tricks and play chess with me. And through it all permeated the smell of lighter fluid.
Squirt, squirt, squirt....out comes the gelatinous liquid, dousing the uniformly shaped, black chunks of processed charcoal, then the application of the match to produce glorious flame.
So easy....and so very dangerous and nasty. While we never had a tragedy in our family, certainly many other people were badly burned by the stuff, especially when they squirted more fluid onto coals that were already hot, but not fully "cooked." Sure, that was a dumb thing to do, and the instructions on the can were explicit about not doing it, but of course accidents still happened -- and happen still.
Beyond that, think about what it must be like to work in a factory that makes the lighter fluid, and fills up those cans. It must be an incredibly toxic and dangerous environment, leading to many injuries and deaths each year.
And it is all totally unnecessary. If I had my eye, I would ban the sale of lighter fluid -- because a much safer, simpler, cheaper, cleaner alternative exists.
It is usually called a Chimney Charcoal Starter
Essentially it is big a metal cylinder, with two separate chambers. You pour the unlit charcoal into the top chamber (which takes up almost the whole height of the cylinder). Then you stuff a piece of newspaper in the lower chamber of the cylinder, and light the paper. The little bit of intense flame from the burning paper lights the enough of the charcoal to get the whole thing rolling, and within 10 or 15 minutes, the entire column of charcoal is ablaze. It is a wonderful invention and I really don't see why anyone in their right mind would continue to use lighter fluid once they were aware of this alternative.
So I am doing my part to make everyone aware.
Don't buy charcoal lighter fluid! Avoid possible injury and increased toxification of our environment.
Buy a Chimney Charcoal Starter and enjoy cleaner, safer, less expensive barbecues!