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Henry's blog

What Is This Chimney Starter Thing? And Do I Have To Use One?

13:31, 13/6/2008 .. 0 comments .. Link

First Question: It's a big can without a bottom.

Second Question: NO.

OK... you might want a little more information than that, right?

A chimney starter is a metal cylinder, roughly 8" by 12" tall, with a suspended wire mesh bottom. It's purpose is to start a charcoal fire for a grill. It also has holes or slots cut into the sides, toward the bottom, to help with air flow. It's hollow and has a handle on it for safe handling. The wire mesh or grate bottom will hold the charcoal briquettes in place inside the chimney, allowing for airflow underneath.

If you have not heard of a chimney starter, or never used one, you probably just stack charcoal briquettes in a pile on your grill, douse them with a little lighter fluid, and light them. I too have had very good luck with fires for many years without using a chimney, by doing just that.

But because heat rises, using a chimney starter will get all the briquettes burning evenly (better than just an old pile). Since it is set up for good air flow, the fire is ready fairly quickly, too. But the big advantage I see in using a chimney is that you don't have to use lighter fluid anymore (unless you still want to).

When using a chimney starter, simply crumple up some newspaper and put it into the bottom of the chimney under the grate. Leave a little opening in the middle so the air can flow upward. Then place it right-side-up on the grate of your grill and fill it with charcoal.

Carefully light the paper and let it burn for 10 to 20 minutes. When white ash starts to form on the top briquettes, empty it onto the grate and your fire is ready to go.

Be careful doing this, and wear some heavy gloves. The charcoal is very hot at this point. It is easy to get burned, even when wearing gloves. Try not to get any part of your body directly over the briquettes while they are being poured onto the grate.

If that turns out to not be enough charcoal to do the job, leave 2 or 3 burning briquettes in the bottom of the chimney and fill it up again. You will shortly have another chimney of fuel, hot and ready.

Use a chimney... don't use a chimney?

If you've gone this long without using one, you already know that you don't have to use a chimney, unless you want to. It is just a tool that's meant to make starting a fire easier. It's like choosing between a match or a lighter. Use whichever one you want. And so far, I haven't seen any Chimney Police out there.

Jeff Slankard is the owner of original-bbq-recipes. It is the place to find out how you can be the creator of your own delicious BBQ recipes.
http://www.original-bbq-recipes.com/

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