How to Manually Light a Gas Grill Safely

Canva Close up of control knobs on an outdoor gas grill.

Most modern gas grills come with a built-in ignition system. Usually, this system is designed for ease of use, meaning you can start your grill with the push of a button. But sometimes your ignition system wears down and or only works on occasion. Or, if you have an older grill, you may have to light it manually. Either way, this article will tell you how to manually light a gas grill safely.

Here are the steps for how to manually light a gas grill safely.

  • Step 1 – Open the Lid
  • Step 2 – Check the Knobs
  • Step 3 – Open the Gas Tank Valve
  • Step 4 – Determine the Best Location to Light Your Grill
  • Step 5 – Turn on Gas to Single Burner
  • Step 6 – Light Other Burners
  • Step 7 – Preheat Your Grill

Step 1: Open The Lid

Opening the lid is essential when lighting your gas grill safely. When you turn a control knob to the Hi/Light position, gas can quickly fill your grill if the lid is closed. As you can imagine, adding a flame to that gas can cause an explosion. So, always open the lid before lighting your grill. 

Some models require you to light the grill through the cooking grates, making it impossible to light the grill manually without opening the lid. But, other models have holes in either side of the grill for manual lighting. It’s easy to forget to open the lid on these models, but it’s a crucial step!

Step 2: Check The Knobs

Once you’ve opened the lid, you’ll want to check that all of the control knobs are in the off position. Some control knobs can stick and still be open, even though they look like they’re closed. So, it’s important to turn each knob to the ‘off’ setting, just to make sure. The last thing you want when manually lighting your grill is gas leaking out of a burner without you knowing.

Step 3: Open The Gas Tank Valve

For propane grills, you’ll do this by turning the knob on the tank counterclockwise until it stops. If you have a natural gas grill, you should have a valve that does the same thing, depending on your setup. If your natural gas grill does not have a control valve, you can skip this step. 

Step 4: Determine the Best Location to Light Your Grill

As mentioned above, some grills require that you light the burners through the cooking grates, while others have a hole through which you can stick a match or lighter. If you’re unsure of where to best light your grill, consult your owners manual. 

Many grills also have a match holder attached. It’s usually a long piece of metal with a loop at the end, often attached to your grill by a chain. Insert the butt of a match into the loop at the end. This will allow you to light the grill with a regular kitchen match.  

If you do not have a match holder included with your grill, you’ll need a long match or a wand lighter to manually light your grill safely. 

Step 5: Turn On The Gas To One Burner

Once you’ve located the best place to insert your match or lighter, you can proceed with the actual lighting. Strike your match or light your lighter. Turn the knob to the corresponding burner you wish to light into the High/Light position. Carefully bring the flame to the burner and watch for the burner to light. Once you’ve lit the burner, you can remove the match or lighter.

Step 6: Light The Other Burners

Depending on the type of cooking you’re planning to do, you can now light the other burners. Most modern grills can be cross-lit, meaning that you can simply turn on the gas to the next burner, and it will light. Some grills, however, require that you light each of them manually. If this is the case, you can repeat steps 3 and 4 until you ignite all the burners.

Step 7: Preheat Your Gas Grill

Once you have lit all the gas burners you need for the grilling session, you can close the lid to preheat the grill. No matter the temperature you need for grilling, preheating is always a good idea. It helps burn away germs and residue from your last grilling session, plus it gets the grates ready for grilling. Wait a minimum of 10 minutes with your burners on high for the grill to preheat. 

What To Do If Your Grill Doesn’t Light

If you have any problems getting your grill to light when placing the flame to the burner, you’ll want to turn the burner control knob off and wait five minutes before trying again. Waiting will allow any errant gas to dissipate, making it safe for you to try lighting your grill again.

If you can’t get the suggested burner to light, consult your owner’s manual for troubleshooting. Usually, you can try lighting another burner. If that doesn’t work, check the level of your gas, as you may be out of fuel. If you have enough fuel, but your burners do not light, you may have a problem with the fuel lines, and you should contact the manufacturer or a professional to diagnose the problem.

In Conclusion

No matter what kind of gas grill you have, this step by step guide should give you an idea of how to manually light your gas grill safely. However, it’s always best to consult your owner’s manual first, before attempting to light your grill manually. You should always follow the precautions and instructions in your grill’s manual to stay in accordance with any warranty you may have. 

Every grill is slightly different, and this article gives an overview of the steps you can take when lighting your grill. But, it’s always a good idea to exercise proper caution when working with gas and flames. 

Thanks for reading and Happy Grilling!

Justin Childress

Justin Childress is the creator of He is also a devoted husband and father of his 1-year-old son Gabriel. Justin enjoys spending time with family, reading, and, of course, contributing to Read more about me or follow me on Pinterest to stay connected.

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