How to Light a Charcoal Grill with a Chimney Starter

By: lesline | Posted: 09th January 2013

We all know barbecue enthusiasts who will only grill or barbecue with charcoal because they believe it produces the best results.

Many people would agree with them, but they don't end up buying charcoal grills. Why? Because they find charcoal is difficult to work with.

They claim is inconvenient to handle and a problem to light. And when it is alight it takes a long time to reach a high enough temperature to grill or barbecue.

So is there a way of taking the pain out of using charcoal? In this article we'll review the options and explain why we believe the Charcoal Chimney Starter is the best option available.

Options for Lighting a Charcoal Grill

Before we go on to look at the Chimney Starter in detail, let’s look at all the other options:

• Charcoal Briquettes Impregnated with Fuel
• Lighter Fuel
• Fire Starter Cubes
• Electrically Powered BBQ Lighters

There are pros and cons to each of these options.

- The briquettes and starter cubes are quick to use but they're smelly. The smells they give off get worse just after lighting and take a while to disappear. It's important not to use a grill just after lighting because of this. If you don't do this the smelly vapors given off will contaminate your food.

- Lighter fuel is better from a smell point of view. It burns up quickly, although it can flare up dangerously and lead to nasty burns.

- Electric BBQ lighters are a much safer option, but it’s difficult to heat up more than a few pieces of charcoal at a time. Because of this getting sufficient charcoal burning before you start grilling can take a long time.

The Best Way of Lighting a Charcoal

We believe that the very best way of lighting up a charcoal BBQ is by using a Charcoal Chimney Starter. If you use a chimney starter correctly it will enable you to ignite enough charcoal for a normal-size grill in just over ten minutes (depending upon the quantity of charcoal).

Four Steps to BBQ Success Using a Chimney Starter

If you haven't yet seen a Chimney Starter, it can best be described as a conveniently-sized container in which you can light your charcoal coals away from your grill. There are lots of different sizes and shapes of chimney starter, but they all operate in the same way.
Here are four easy steps on how to use one successfully:

1. Find a large newspaper page and screw it up to form a loose ball of paper that will just fit in the palm of your hand. Place this ball in the bottom of your chimney starter and sprinkle it with a little vegetable oil (the oil is optional, it will light without).

2.Fill the charcoal section above the paper compartment with sufficient charcoal for your BBQ session (generally about 6 to 8 lbs. of charcoal)

3. Position the chimney starter firmly on your grill grate and ignite the paper in the bottom. When the paper flares up the flames will rise to the top of the chimney and very quickly start to ignite your charcoal. You'll get a lot of smoke initially but this will soon die down.

4. When the charcoal coals start to turn white they are hot enough to put onto your charcoal grill. Use a BBQ glove and lift the chimney starter by its handle and tip the burning coals onto the fuel grid of your BBQ.

The whole process should take around ten to fifteen minutes. Once the coals are in the BBQ you can start using it – it’ll be quite hot enough to grill or barbecue.

How to Choose Your Chimney Starter

There are lots of different types of chimney starter with prices ranging from $10 to $25. Their features differ slightly. To choose the most suitable one study the reviews and comments of customers on internet sites such as Amazon.

We’ve put together some tips below based upon research:

- Construction
Make sure your chimney starter is solidly made, preferably of steel with a protective zinc oxide coating. Chimney smokers which are badly made will quickly rust and may fall apart.

- Chimney Handle
It's good to have an insulated handle on your chimney starter, even though you should only pick it up using a BBQ glove.

- Shape & Size of the Chimney
You can buy square-shaped, cylindrical or conical chimney starters. The shape doesn’t seem to be very important, but capacity is. Choose a chimney starter that will take about 6 to 8lb of charcoal comfortably.

If you buy a bigger chimney starter, make sure you only fill it with as much charcoal as you’ll need for your BBQ session. A chimney starter which is too heavy might be difficult to handle.

Taking Care of Your Chimney Starter
After use, empty the ash out of your chimney starter, make sure its dry and store it away in a dry place. The worst thing you can do is to let it get wet with ash in it. Corrosion will set in very quickly.

The Author
Les manages a small BBQ Review Team. They regularly review the best-selling BBQ's on the web. On their website www.barbecues-for-sale.com there's lot's more useful information and videos on charcoal chimney starters and how to use them as well as other useful BBQ information.
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Tags: long time, pros and cons, point of view, four steps, charcoal, lighters, charcoal grills, chimney, cubes, vapors