How to Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter in 7 Easy Steps? | No Lighter Fluid

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In this article, we will tell you How to Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter without lighter fluid. Even a beginner can get the charcoal ready for BBQ by following these steps.

A Chimney starter is the most effective way to get the charcoal going if you are stuck without lighter fluid but ready to smoke some meat.

Even if you have lighter fluid, using it gives off smelly fumes that can mess up with the taste. So many of us BBQ enthusiasts use a chimney starter which is the simplest solution for lighting up charcoal in 15 to 20 minutes.

What Is a Charcoal Chimney Starter?

It is a metal cylinder with a series of air vents up the chimney, and with a grate near the bottom.

How does it work?

The air flows from the bottom through the air vents and allowing the charcoal lumps on the top of the grate to ignite and slowly burn. Charcoal in chimney starter gets ready in 15 to 20 minutes for the smoker.

How To Use a Charcoal Chimney Starter?

STEP 1: A quarter-full chimney is good for 225 degrees temperature, half is good for 275 to 300 degrees, and a full chimney will get you 350 degrees Fahrenheit or above for direct searing or roasting.

Put some wood chips on top of charcoal (Dry chips at this point). If the chips are not fully burnt, then the charcoal is not fully lit. It will act as an indicator. Normally the charcoal will be ready within 15 to 30 minutes.


STEP 2: Charcoal chimneys require a sort of combustible material at the bottom as a fire starter. Some use wax-covered tumbleweed and pre-made starter cubes from weber, while others prefer simple newspapers. We will be talking about the newspaper method.

Wrap the paper, pour some oil on it, and stick it at the bottom of the charcoal chimney starter.


STEP 3: After starting the fire, wait for 15 minutes, notice if the white clear smoking is coming out of the chimney or not. It is a sign of the fully lit charcoal.

Pulling out early is a common rookie mistake. You end up with no flavor because of that ignition smoke.


STEP 3: Once the charcoal is ready, pour it into the grill and rearrange for your preference of grilling heat source. For searing, stake them higher on one to get close to the grate.


Check out our guide about how to use a charcoal smoker

Safety Measures When Using a Chimney Starter

  • Never use a charcoal chimney starter directly on the cement of your driveway.
  • Either purchase a cheap paver or use the chimney on the bottom charcoal grate level.
  • Use heat-resistant gloves. Chimneys are made of metal and if you are careful enough, you might end up with third-degree burns.
  • Wear shoes when picking that up that chimney, or when you pour lit charcoal on the grill.  Some of that charcoal may drop on the ground and you may step on it. It has happened to me twice.

FAQS – Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you leave the charcoal in the chimney starter?

Chimney starter takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get the charcoal ready for smoking.

How do you smoke with a chimney starter?

Pour three-quarters of charcoal into the chimney for 225 degrees, half for 275 to 300 degrees, and full for 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wrap a paper, pour some oil on it, and place it underneath the chimney.
Light up the paper.

Wait for 15 to 20 minutes. Your charcoal should be ready now.

How do I know if my chimney starter is ready?

Pour some dry chips on the charcoal.

When the wood chips are completely burnt, your charcoal is ready. It is an indicator.
You can also notice after 15 to 20 minutes, clear white smoke will be coming out of the chimney, it is also an indicator.

Lightupbbq was started by Freddy Zeus, an environmental engineer and a professional chef who has been around the world learning the craft of cooking.

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