Barbecue Chimney Starter - Essential Grilling Accessory

If you grill or smoke with charcoal or wood chips, then you want to invest in a chimney starter. A chimney starter makes outdoor cooking much easier for your best small grill, and it only sets you back $15 or so—quickly recovered in the savings on lighter fluid.
I’d had my eye on chimney starters for quite a while before deciding to buy one. After I finally plunked down the $10.99 plus shipping (sales price), I kicked myself for waiting. This is now on my “essentials list” for outdoor cooking.

What is a Chimney Starter?

A chimney starter is a metal cylinder with holes cut around the bottom and a mesh type shelf to hold the charcoal up slightly off the fire starting area. 
This grilling tool is built on the chimney effect theory (hence the name), which my dad loves to talk about. My dad is an engineer, so his small talk topics tend to differ from the average. He tells me how the heat is sucked out of the house and up the chimney, given that I don’t have a damper.
So, you get this same effect with the fire and smoke circulating and getting the charcoals burning nice and even and ready for perfect grilling.

Why Do You Need/Want a Chimney Starter?

If you’ve EVER had problems getting charcoal started (or wood chips), then a chimney starter will take care of that—quickly and easily. Even if you can get charcoal going pretty well, you’re likely to have uneven spots. With the chimney starter, the coals come out red hot from top to bottom and ready for cooking across the entire grill area.
Another plus is that this eliminates the need for the pre-soaked charcoal or lighter fluid. When you have chemicals added to enhance burning, then you’re getting those fumes and some of the taste in your food. The chimney starter is all-natural and eliminates the need for costlier charcoal or cans of lighter fluid.
So, you make grilling and smoking easier and also end up saving money by using a chimney starter.

Where to get a Chimney Starter?

I would love to tell you that you can get them almost anywhere, but that would be a story. I’ve not seen them around locally. I had to go online to buy mine.
After doing research, I decided to go with the Weber chimney starter. It is larger than some of the models made by other companies (so you can start as much—or as little charcoal as you want). Also, I’ve been using Weber brand for over 15 years, and I swear by the quality.

How Do You Use a Chimney Starter?

This is simple, and I have the step-by-step pictures in the message board. Just see the link above.
  1. Turn the chimney starter upside down.
  2. Wad up 2 sheets of newspaper and jam that in the bottom (the less deep portion).
  3. Turn the chimney starter right side up and put it where you want to start the coals (usually on the bottom grate of the grill or smoker).
  4. Tilt the chimney starter and set the edge of the paper on fire.
  5. Let the coals “catch” for around 10 minutes. You’ll see smoke pouring out and also see the coals begin to glow.
  6. Dump the coals out of the chimney starter and begin cooking.
Note: I use a Lodge grilling glove when dumping the coals out, but the guys are too macho to do so. The Weber chimney starter does have an insulated handle, so I guess it’s not too hot. But, a real man can wear Lodge gloves too—to be on the safe side.

What are You Waiting For--Buy a Chimney Starter?

A chimney starter is inexpensive and makes starting fires much easier. It eliminates the need to buy lighter fluid or soaked charcoal (which is more expensive). Your food will taste better, and you’ll save money in the long run (after just a few times grilling). I’m still saying: Good grief. I should have bought one long ago.

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