Charcoal Chimney Starters - How to Choose Them and How to Use Them |
Many people wouldn't consider buying or using a charcoal grill because charcoal is messy to handle, awkward to light and difficult to control when it’s burning. They might agree that, used correctly, charcoal produces better barbecue food, but they are unwilling to use it themselves. But it is possible to make the job of lighting charcoal easier and safer and overcome some of these objections? The purpose of this article is to look at and compare the different ways of doing this and discuss one of these ways (i.e. the chimney starter) in more detail.
Ignition Options for Charcoal
There’s quite a wide variety of fuel types for a charcoal grill and several different ways of lighting a grill:
- Charcoal Briquettes are easier to store and handle than lump charcoal and they're impregnated with inflammable ingredients which enable them to catch fire quickly when lit. The disadvantage of briquettes is that they give off unpleasant fumes in the early stages of ignition. Food shouldn't be cooked on the grill until these fumes have disappeared. If it is your barbecue food may become tainted and acquire an unpleasant taste.
- Lighter fuel can be sprinkled over lump charcoal. This fuel will be absorbed by the charcoal and help it catch fire quickly when lit. The disadvantage of lighter fuel is that it can be dangerous if not used carefully. If you apply it too liberally it can flare up when lit and cause nasty burns.
- Fire starter cubes can be used to light lump charcoal or wood. The disadvantage is that, like briquettes, unpleasant odors are given off and these can affect the taste of the food. You can buy starter cubes specifically made for barbecue lighting, but they still give of fumes when lit.
- Electrically-powered fire lighters are quite effective at lighting a charcoal or wood BBQ, but because the electric element of the fire lighter can only come into contact with a small amount of the wood or charcoal, it can take a while to get sufficient burning coals to start barbecuing. You'll also need a power-point nearby to plug the fire lighter in.
The Charcoal Chimney Starter
Without a doubt one of the very best ways of igniting a charcoal barbecue is to use a Chimney Starter. A good-size chimney starter will ignite sufficient charcoal for a family grill in just over ten minutes. Making Use of a Chimney Starter - Four Easy Steps
A typical chimney starter resembles a very large tin can with lots of holes in it and a large handle. Inside the can there are two compartments - a small one in the bottom and a large one at the top which holds the charcoal. Using a chimney starter is quite easy. Here’s how to do it in four simple steps:
1. Take a double sheet out of a tabloid newspaper or something similar. Screw it up into a loose ball about the size of a tennis ball. Put this ball of paper into the bottom compartment of the chimney starter. Some people sprinkle the paper with some vegetable oil before they do this. 2. Fill the top compartment of the chimney starter with charcoal (about 6 to 8 lb) and place it on top of your grill or find another suitable place away from anything that might catch fire. 3. Light the paper. The flame from the paper will very quickly ignite the charcoal and the flames will quickly extend to the full height of the chimney starter and it will start to smoke 4. After five minutes or so the charcoal will start to glow brightly and a thin layer of ash will form over the surface of the coals. When this stage is reached, using a BBQ glove carefully lift the chimney starter by its handle and pour the burning coals onto the fuel grid of your barbecue grill. Once you have completed these four steps you can start barbecuing.
Read detailed chimney starter reviews and watch videos on how to use them.
Choosing the Right Chimney Starter Chimney starters vary in price from $10 to $20. There are quite a lot of them but they all work in the same way. Here are some tips to help you choose one.
- Materials and Construction Pick a chimney starter that is solidly made. They are all made of steel, but different manufacturers use different grades of steel. Some have a protective zinc oxide coating to help resist corrosion. Cheap and poorly made chimney starters won't last and when they start corroding may fall apart.
- Chimney Handle All chimney starters have handles. It’s a good idea to buy one with an insulated handle, even if you use a barbecue glove.
- Shape & Size Chimney starters come in a variety of shapes - cylindrical, square and pyramid-shaped. The shape isn't really so important, but the capacity is. You should buy a chimney starter which will take about 6 to 8 lb of briquettes (these are heavier than charcoal lumps). This is a manageable size. Remember you've got to be able to lift and maneuver your chimney starter by its handle.
Suggestions on Caring for Your Chimney Starter
When you have finished with chimney starter after a barbecue session, clean it out thoroughly and store it in a dry place. If you don't do this your chimney starter will quickly corrode and may become unsafe to use (customers on Amazon have complained about handles falling off!.
Get lots of detailed information on barbecue accessories, techniques and the latest barbecues available on line at the Barbecue Review Site.
Related Articles -
chimney starters, how to use a chimney starter, charcoal grill reviews, charcoal grills, barbecue grills,