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tips for BBQ | The secrets for low and slow barbecue ribs, pulled pork, brisket and more

How to Use a Chimney Starter

Also Known As: Charcoal Chimney

Chimney Starter -

A chimney starter is a metal cylinder designed to fill with charcoal to light it easily and safely. It works the same with both lump charcoal and briquettes. In fact, you can mix both for a little better fire control. The "chimney effect" allows the charcoal to light from the bottom and pull air/fire up through the rest of the container. All without having to douse with lighter fluid.

The Weber Chimney Starter is one of the best on the market. It holds more charcoal than others (enough to fill an entire 22.5-inch weber grill) and has two sturdy handles for safe handling of hot charcoal.

Safe Places to Light Chimney Starter

  • On the grate of your smoker or grill
  • On fire-safe bricks on your deck or patio
  • On a terra cotta flower pot (without a drain hole)
  • On hard ground with adequate clearance
  • NEVER light a chimney starter directly on concrete. The high heat will cause damage and may cause the concrete to explode!

Lighting a Chimney Starter

  • Using two full sheets of newspaper, roll/crumple each of them into a tube and bend into donut shapes that fit into the bottom of the chimney starter.
  • Stick both newspaper donuts into the bottom of the starter leaving the center clear for air movement.
  • Flip over and fill the chimney with charcoal.
  • Light the paper on bottom in several places.
  • Its ready when you can see a deep amber color and just as gray ash starts for form on top coals. This should take approximately 10-15 minutes. Briquettes may take a little longer.

For more information check out the great article on

Go to the BBQ Dictionary for more definitions.

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