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Why use a Chimney Starter?
Waiting around for your charcoal to heat up is a waste of time. It can take ages and it can be difficult to get an even level of combustion.
Anyone looking to avoid the use of flammable liquids for starting their barbecue can instead turn to a chimney starter.
Chimney charcoal starters are a simple and effective way to have hot coals ready to cook in only a few minutes, without the use of potentially dangerous accelerants.
How do Chimney Starters Work?
The charcoal starters design is what allows it to rapidly heat the coals. The charcoal is stacked vertically and there is room at the bottom for newspaper to provide the initial fuel.
Once the newspaper is lit, the heated air rises, drawing more air in the holes at the base of the chimney. This effect continues to feed itself, effectively fanning the flames and providing all the oxygen required for a quick burn.
At first the chimney just smokes from the top but soon air can be heard rushing in as the heat increases. Because of the rapid gain in heat, chimney starters should be placed on your barbecue before lighting.
Features to look for in Chimney Starters
Chimney charcoal starters are simple devices so there is not much to them.
You need to consider how big your barbecue is, as ideally you want to be able to fire up sufficient coals in one go.
Chimney starters create a lot of heat so a heat shield protecting the handle is helpful. The greater the distance between the handle and chimney, the safer your hands will be.
Sufficient room for your newspaper starting fuel and air holes around the full circumference are also signs of good design.
Weber Charcoal Starter
The Weber Chimney Starter
This large charcoal starter from Weber holds enough coal for a 22 1/2 inch kettle grill.
Simple to use, the starter will look like a jet engine in no time and have your coals ready to go. A great product at a competitive price.
Budget Charcoal Starter
Economical Chimney Charcoal Starter
At the lower end of the market is this offering, coming in at around $12.
It is a simple aluminized steel chimney with a wooden handle. Be careful as it can be surprising how hot wood can get! No point starting off your BBQ with a burned hand.
Charcoal Briquet Holders
Handy Charcoal Accessory
These charcoal briquet holders from Weber are a useful tool to have.
Great for indirect cooking, they make it easier to control the location and intensity of your heat source.
They can also be used to concentrate the heat. By bringing them together they make the coals higher than they normally would be, allowing you to turn up the heat if you are looking to add a crispy finish.