The charcoal chimney is one of the best pieces of equipment I have in my kit.
The one I have is the Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter, but there are other starter chimneys around that are cheaper and do the same job.
I have watched a couple of BBQ chefs lighting charcoal with white spirit, about half a pints worth in one case. The cooked food was barely edible.
The idea is that you have an efficient means of lighting charcoal and getting it hot enough to use without using lighter gels etc, or wasting time and energy poking and titivating hot (but not hot enough) coals.
How to Use a Charcoal Starter Chimney
It is worth noting that although this method is labor-saving, it isn’t time-saving – although the coals look after themselves, it takes almost as long.
The main benefits are that once lit, you don’t do anything until the coals are ready, and they are uniformly hot when they are.
A full load will take something like 30-40 minutes before it is covered in white ash and ready for cooking with. The experience will tell how long a smaller load will take to prepare.
Relax and actually socialize with your guests for a while before the real business of cooking starts.
- Firstly, roll up a couple of sheets of newspaper and stuff them (not too tightly) into the smaller compartment of your chimney.
- Next, pour in however much charcoal you need into the large compartment.
- Put the starter chimney on the grate of your grill and light the newspaper; the flame and heat travel vertically up the chimney thus lighting all the coals.
- Wait until the charcoal is covered in a layer of white ash, as usual.
- Get your barbecue gloves on and pour out the coals, as it were a jug and arrange them how you want them.
And that’s it, no lighter fuel of any kind, and minimal energy expended. Note that the chimney will remain very hot for many minutes after emptying!
Check out this clip of a starter chimney being used.
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