Up until recently, we’ve always relied on charcoal lighter fluid to light our charcoal. And we’re charcoal enthusiasts, so all we cook with is charcoal. We’ve watched a few of the Dutch Oven and Camp Cooking shows with Cee Dub which is shown on RFD-TV and noticed he always used the charcoal chimneys to light the charcoal for his dutch ovens. So we were out shopping one day last summer, and noticed a charcoal chimney section at the local store, and bought one. This was the best find for the summer barbecue. In our pictures here, we are using Cowboy Brand Hardwood Charcoal. The same method works with Kingsford or other lump charcoal brands.
Here’s how to light charcoal using a Charcoal Chimney
A Charcoal Chimney charcoal lighter is a metal tube about 12 inches long, and 6 inches in diameter. The bottom of the Charcoal Chimney has vents, and a grate sits about 2 inches above the bottom. In the bottom of the Charcoal Chimney, under the grate, you place some crumbled newspaper under and the top of the grate supports the charcoal. In our picture here, you can see we’ve placed some crumbled newspaper in the section of the charcoal lighter that’s under the grate.
Place the charcoal chimney on a fire proof surface before you light it. We use the bottom grate of our Weber grill. Light the newspaper through the vents in several places. If you are in a location where it’s really windy (15 – 20 mph), a little bit (1/2 oz) of charcoal light fluid can be poured onto the newspaper to help get it started. We use that method when we’re cooking lunch on the beach. In most cases, a simple lighting in 3 or 4 places will do. The newspaper will smoke, burn slowly, and the heat from the newspaper will be funneled up the chimney, and heat the charcoal to light it. In the picture to the right, you can see the smoke from the newspaper rising from the Charcoal Chimney as the newspaper heats the charcoal. It takes 10 – 15 minutes to start the charcoal. Perhaps a little less time if you’re using Cowboy Brand hardwood charcoal.
As the charcoal at the bottom of the chimney lights, it will add more heat to the rising column of heat going up the chimney, and will light the charcoal all the way to the top. Here’s a picture of the charcoal all ready to be dumped out onto the charcoal grate. The handle of the chimney is made of wood, and has a heat shield to protect your fingers. Even with those safety factors, please use caution when dumping the charcoal out of the chimney onto the grate of your grill as the chimney itself will be very hot. You should also have a place to set the very hot charcoal chimney on after you empty the charcoal from it as it will be very hot for many minutes.
We’ve had great success using our charcoal chimney to light our grill, and wish we had found this magic device 10 years ago.