On Your Grill

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Build Your Own Barbecue Smoker! No Welding!
Build Your Own Barbecue Smoker! No Welding!
On Your Grill - Your Online Grilling Resource


Using A Chimney Starter

Chimney StarterGetting ALL FIRED-UP!

Getting charcoal started can be a real pain in the you know where. I know people who settled for gas or electric grills just so they don’t have to deal with this one aspect of grilling. So this article has nothing to do with electric, propane or natural gas grills, but is great news for you charcoal or wood grillers out there.

The absolute worst thing you could ever do to you grill is to pour any kind of starting fluid on it to get your charcoal going. Not only will it cause your grill to age quicker, but the food will have some of the nasty chemicals along with their taste cooked right in. I think I would rather coat my tongue in gasoline. (Not really, but you get the idea.)

Someone made a really cool invention for us called a chimney starter. With a chimney starter you can quickly and easily get your charcoal lit without having to result to taste killing lighter fluid.

Chimney Starter Diagram

Diagram of a Chimney Starter

The really cool thing about it is that it really is a chimney of sorts. It has air inlets at the bottom and when you add fire, it sucks in the air and the heat from the fire vents the hot gases up into the top and out just like a regular chimney in your house. This is so cool. When I got my first one, I went through a whole bag of charcoal lickity-split just playing with it. I had some nice steaks, burgers, chicken and stuff, but I enjoyed the starter the most! (I think – Hey…it was new, okay?)


  1. Wad up some newspaper and stuff it into the bottom of the chimney starter can.
  2. Fill the top part of the can with charcoal.
  3. light the paper on fire.
  4. Set the chimney starter in or on a fire safe area such as on top of the grill.
  5. Wait around 15-20 minutes for your charcoal to get good and started.
  7. Dump contents into your grill or firebox. (If yours has the swinging wire handle, it’s there to help you lift the chimney starter and safely aim the coals.)

Square Chimney StarterThere are many different brands, types, shapes, colors and such. When I got my first one, I went for the silver one since it more matched the silver on my grill. Well…don’t let this be a deciding factor as the thing will turn all different shades of black, brown and gray as you use it. One of the things you will need with it is a fairly fireproof thing to sit it when it’s hot. I found an old 3 legged grill out on the curb one day going to work that someone was throwing out. I snagged it and now it sits there just waiting for me to start some charcoal. And… I will, too! Love it!


OmahaSteaks - Chateaubriand - Literally Melts In Your Mouth
OmahaSteaks - Chateaubriand - Literally Melts In Your Mouth