Find out how to safely and quickly light up a charcoal chimney starter without the use of lighter fluid.
We get this question a lot. It seems simple, but many people fear the charcoal grill because of tasks like lighting it. This step by step approach to using a charcoal chimney starter makes lighting a charcoal grill foolproof.
We want to give y’all ZERO excuses to avoid grilling. Z.E.R.O. Our whole goal here is to get everyone to grill year-round like we do. So fear no more!
Starting a charcoal grill is easy. Invest in an inexpensive charcoal chimney, and you can be grilling within 15-20 minutes of lighting up. Whether you use lump charcoal, briquettes or even sneaking in wood chunks, it works without fail. The chimney will help you get your coals hot, without the need for any lighter fluid.
Safety Tip: Light the charcoal chimney inside your grill or on a concrete surface away from anything that can burn. The chimney will get hot, and be sure there is not a low hanging canopy either. Always light this outdoors.
How to Use A Charcoal Chimney
Insert the Paper
There are two sides to the chimney, a shallow side and a deep side. The shallow side is for your paper and the deep side for your charcoal. Crumble up a sheet of newspaper and place it loosely inside the shallow side. Don’t pack too tight otherwise it might smother out. Then flip over the chimney to prep for the charcoal.
Add Charcoal to Chimney
Add your charcoal to the deep side. If you are using lump charcoal, be sure that the smaller lumps are at the bottom just above the paper, as they will heat up faster. Sometimes you can get huge pieces, and if they are at the base, it takes a little longer to get those lit.
Light the Paper
Place the chimney in your grill. Light the paper in a couple of different places and watch it burn. You should see smoke coming out from the paper combusting. The chimney forces the flame up and the holes on the side create perfect venting.
Dump Charcoal from Charcoal Chimney In Grill
Watch and wait. Right around 20 minutes you should see the embers start to glow and the fire travel toward the top. When you have good ember and the top charcoal turning ashen, dump the charcoal into your grill with a heat resistant glove. I typically dump the charcoal chimney into an indirect, or two-zone cooking method, but there is really no wrong way to do it, just make sure your charcoal is set and even. For a refresher on direct vs. indirect, see this post.
Finally place your grate back over the top and start cooking. If you are cooking something that will take a while, a general rule is to refresh your charcoal every 45 minutes. You can buy grill grates that open to refresh your coals as well if you use your kettle style grill for long cooks.
Watch the Video
Here is a round up of some of our favorite grilling recipes using these techniques.
Note: this post contains affiliate links. That just means that if you click over and purchase the recommended products, we get a small percentage. We only endorse and recommend products that we really use and believe in. And you can probably tell from the pics of our chimney that we get darn good use out of it! Basically, it rocks and if you cook on a weber or other charcoal grill you need one!