How To Use a Chimney Starter | Barbecue Tricks

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How To Use a Chimney Starter

One of the quickest ways to fix that funky fuel taste in backyard barbecue is to ditch the charcoal lighter fluid. Cooks are too often overzealous with the fuel (hey, we’re guys) and it imparts a bit of an aftertaste if you’re not careful. If you DO use lighter fluid make SURE it’s all burned off well before cooking. Better yet… try a Charcoal Chimney Starter.

Chimney starters looks like a jet engine with a handle on the side. They cost about $20 and they’re really easy, safe, and environmentally friendly way too start charcoal.

They do come in different sizes (large is about 7.5 inches in diameter). If you have a small grill stick with the smaller Charcoal starter. Remember with a chimney starter no lighter fluid needed…

Here’s How to light it up:
  1. Find a clean, clear non flammable area to place the Chimney Starter. You could use the grill but you’ll still need a non flammable place to set the RED hot chimney once you’ve filled the grill. A little caution goes a long way. Use gloves.
  2. Fill the larger compartment in the Chimney (the top) with regular or hardwood lump charcoal (recommended!). Match Light or instant lighting (fuel soaked) is not needed.
  3. Compress two large sheets of newspaper loosely into the bottom chamber. The whole key is getting air to everything so don’t pack it in to much.
  4. Set the starter upright on the lower grate on your grill (remove the top one) and ignite the newspaper through the bottom holes using a lighter or match. That’s it.
  5. After about 20 minutes your charcoal should be ready. Wait until the coals on top show some white ash.
  6. Carefully pour and arrange your coals on the grate. Yes Gloves… and be careful where you place that chimney it’ll be blistering hot for about 30 minutes.
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About Bill West

Bill West a BBQ enthusiast, Author, and Country Music aficionado in Charleston, SC. Get his BBQ Blueprint Book on Amazon: Follow him:

4 Responses to “How To Use a Chimney Starter”

  1. Mungo says:

    Nice article. These chimneys are excellent. They save a lot of hassle – the charcoal is effectively stacked vertically and less spread out than it is if you pile it in a cone shape in your grill/BBQ. Therefore it lights and reaches cooking readyness quicker because air is drawn upwards through it efficiently. I’m definitely a fan of these.

  2. Scott says:

    Another tip is to get some more charcoal going in the chimney if you find that find that you need to add more to your grill, particularly if you are doing bbq–low and slow, That will help keep the heat more even then adding the charcoal directly to the pile in your grill or smoker.

  3. Adam says:

    And to think all this time people were dousing their coals with lighter fluid. Blasphemy!


  1. […] you’re grilling over live fire or charcoal try adding an additional layer of foil wrap and then place the onion DIRECTLY ON THE COALS!   […]

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