When it comes to cooked food, grilled food just tastes better. When it comes to grilling... charcoal is the ultimate method for yielding that absolutely delicious, smoky charred flavor! With one exception...
You don't use lighter fluid to start the charcoal! Lighter fluid not only can be dangerous, but it can transfer it's nasty flavor to your food from it's oily residue left behind after lighting!
Have you ever tried starting charcoal by piling it into a pyramid, soaking the briquettes with lighter fluid, and lighting them on fire? The result is often uneven burning and the everlasting essence of lighter fluid.
I don't know about you, but I'll have none of that! Which is why I started using a charcoal chimney and never looked back.
The best way to light charcoal...
The best way to start (light) charcoal is by using a charcoal chimney. As a matter of fact, it's also the easiest way because it only requires a few steps.
The end result is evenly glowing, hot briquettes in only 15 minutes.
Using a chimney...
A charcoal chimney is simply a metal cylinder that's open on both ends with some holes to allow air circulation.
There are two (2) separate chambers - a large one at the top to hold the charcoal briquettes, and a small one at the bottom for a combustible fuel like paper.
Step 1 - Prepare the grill
Prepare your charcoal grill by removing the top grate and placing it aside. You are going to place the chimney on the lower grate during the lighting process.
Step 2 - Prepare the chimney
Prepare your charcoal chimney by crumbling some paper bag or newspaper and stuff it into the lower burn chamber. Do not stuff too much paper into the lower chamber where it becomes tightly packed. It should be loosely - medium packed to allow the material to burn efficiently.
Position the chimney on the lower grill grate with the paper stuffed lower chamber facing down.
Step 3 - Add charcoal briquettes
Add briquettes directly into the charcoal chimney upper burn chamber up to the top. Note that you don't need to fill the chimney to the top if you only need a small amount of charcoal. However, you should not pile charcoal over the top opening of the chimney because those briquettes may not start.
Step 4 - Light it up
Light the paper on fire.
Step 5 - Let it burn
The paper will burn up completely. By the time the paper is fully burned the briquettes at the bottom of the chimney will already be ignited. Since all of them are packed in the cylinder, the briquettes feed off of each other and light evenly.
Once the top briquettes begin to turn gray and you can see that red glow in the center of the stack, it's time to dump them out. This process takes about 10 minutes.
Step 6 - Dump and spread
Grab the chimney by the handle and dump the charcoal briquettes onto the lower grill grate. After that, you can spread the charcoal as desired.
Step 7 - Prepare the grill for cooking
Place the upper grill grate back on the grill and allow the charcoal to burn another 3 - 5 minutes. In the meantime, you can grab your food and get ready to grill up some delicious meat and/or vegetables!
- Grilling food on a charcoal grill tastes amazing, but lighting charcoal can be a pain. Don't let the taste of lighter fluid come between you and a delicious burger! In fact, if you're looking for an awesome burger recipe, check out Savvy Saving Couple's Grilled Cheesesteak Burgers!
- Use a charcoal chimney to evenly light charcoal without lighter fluid. It's fast and easy. Plus, you'll enjoy evenly lit coals every time!