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Can you grill faster with the aid of a chimney starter?

Can you grill faster with the aid of a chimney starter? - Maria's Condo

In the world of grilling, nothing compares to the taste and aroma that charcoal grilling brings to your food. However, getting the coals to the perfect temperature can sometimes be a daunting task, especially for beginners. Enter the chimney starter, your new best friend in the grilling world. This simple yet effective device can significantly reduce the time it takes to get your coals burning evenly and ready for cooking.


What is a Chimney Starter?

A chimney starter, also known as a charcoal chimney, is a device used to light charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal. It is a metal tube with holes on both ends, a small wire grate inside, and a set of handles for holding the starter and pouring the charcoal. The design of the chimney starter allows for a significant amount of air to surround the charcoal, supplying limitless oxygen to the coals during the startup phase. This makes it an efficient and quick method of getting your charcoal ready for grilling.

Why Use a Chimney Starter?

The use of a chimney starter offers several benefits:

  1. No need for lighter fluid: Lighter fluid can be dangerous and can leave an unpleasant chemical taste on your food. With a chimney starter, you use newspaper or lighter cubes to get the coals burning, eliminating the need for lighter fluid.
  2. Faster and more even burning: The design of the chimney starter allows for better airflow, which results in faster and more even burning of the coals.
  3. Easily measure the amount of charcoal: The chimney starter provides a handy way to measure the amount of charcoal you need, as you can just fill it up to the top or less, depending on the amount of food you are cooking.

How Does a Chimney Starter Work?

The principle behind a chimney starter is simple. You fill the chimney with charcoal, place some paper, a tumbleweed, or a starter cube on the charcoal grate of your grill, and set it ablaze. You then place the chimney on top of the starter. The fire from the starter lights the bottom coals, and the flames grow upwards due to the airflow through the chimney.


Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Chimney Starter

If you're new to charcoal grilling or have never used a chimney starter before, don't worry. Here's a simple step-by-step guide on how to use a chimney starter:

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

To start with, you will need the following items:

Step 2: Preparation

Before you begin, remove the cooking grate from your grill. Also, make sure to empty any ash in the bottom of the grill into the ash catcher. This will ensure better airflow and more efficient burning of the coals.

Step 3: Fill the Chimney Starter

Fill your chimney starter with charcoal. You can adjust the amount of charcoal based on the amount of food you're planning to cook. For a full grill's worth of food, fill the chimney to the top.

Step 4: Light the Starter

Place two lighter cubes on the charcoal grate and light them. Then, set the chimney starter directly on top of the lighter cubes. The fire from the cubes will begin burning the charcoal, and the flames will grow upwards from there.

If you do not have lighter cubes, you can also use newspaper soaked in cooking oil. Just wad it up, place it under the chimney starter, and light it through the holes in the bottom.

Step 5: Wait for the Coals to Light

Depending on weather conditions, in about 10 to 15 minutes, the coals should be sufficiently lit to pour into the grill. You'll know the coals are ready when the ones on top have started to turn a bit gray with ash.

Step 6: Pour the Coals

Once the coals are ready, grab hold of the handles on the chimney starter and carefully pour the hot coals onto the charcoal grate. Arrange them based on whether you are going to cook over direct or indirect heat.

Step 7: Preheat the Grill

Set the cooking grate back into place, put the lid on, and let the grill preheat. This should take about 10-15 minutes. The grill is considered preheated when it reaches 500-550°F.

Step 8: Adjust the Temperature

Adjust your lid and bowl dampers to achieve the desired cooking temperature. Now, your grill is ready for cooking!

Step 9: Safety Precautions

Remember to put the chimney starter somewhere safe after you've poured the coals into the grill. It will still be hot, and you don't want anyone accidentally bumping into it.

Enhancing the Efficiency of Your Chimney Starter

To enhance the efficiency of your chimney starter, consider using a paper towel tube. By inserting a tube into the center of the chimney, you allow the fire to extend from the bottom of the coals to the top, lighting more of the charcoal at the same time. This technique can significantly reduce the time it takes to get your coals ready for grilling.


A chimney starter is an indispensable tool for every charcoal griller. It's simple, efficient, and does away with the need for lighter fluid. By following the step-by-step guide above, you'll be able to get your coals ready in no time, ensuring a faster and more enjoyable grilling experience.


  1. The Spruce Eats
  2. Epicurious
  3. Family Handyman
  4. The Barbecue Lab

Marias Condo
Marias Condo

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