Certain basic facts about charcoal chimney
During recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of individuals opting for barbecue
grills that use charcoal as a fuel source. The reason is that these grills are very economical and provide a
wonderful experience of outdoor grilling. Moreover, the taste and the flavor of food cooked on a coal barbeque
grill are unique and marvelous. However, there is one problem that is involved with the use of charcoal barbecue
grills. It is the risk of lighting them up. Igniting barbecue grills that use coal is difficult and requires good
amount of patience. One alternative is to use a charcoal chimney starter.
Introduction: Invented in the year 1960 by Hugh King, L. Johnson and Garner Byars, a charcoal chimney starter is
a basic device that is used for lighting or starting barbeque grills that use coal for cooking. Also known as a
charcoal chimney, a charcoal chimney starter can be best described as a metallic cylinder shaped structure that is
made of steel or copper and is pretty easy to operate.
Design: The basic design of a chimney starter involves a long steel cylinder that has a diameter of almost
8” and a height of about 12-18 inches. The base of the cylinder contains large perforations or vents. Present at a
distance of approximately 3-4” from the bottom is a perforated plate or grate that contains several holes and is
welded horizontally inside the cylinder. This plate is used for holding briquettes or coal.
Below the grate are present large holes that are drilled around the entire circumference of the chimney. These
holes allow the passage of air underneath the charcoal, thereby ensuring that the coal provides adequate and
consistent heat. Also present on one side of the cylinder is a thermally insulated handle used for holding the
Operating Chimney starter: Lighting up or operating a chimney starter is very simple. Chimney is completed
filled with charcoal by placing it on top of the grate or plate. Underneath the grate, fill the entire space with
newspapers. Use a match stick or a lighter and ignite these newspapers through the holes present at the bottom of
the chimney. The fire is gradually passed on to the coal present on top of grate. Once all the charcoal is on fire,
the entire chimney can be lifted using the handle and the coal is dumped into the grill. Alternatively, one can
also apply vegetable oil to the newspaper so as to increase the burning period of the paper.
Safety tips: One can never presume about future. Hence, it is very important to install or practice proper
safety measures while operating hazardous or dangerous equipments. When working with fire, there is always a
looming danger of fire accidents that can cause serious burns and physical injury. So as to avoid these, there are
certain good safety tips that can be followed while operating a chimney starter. Some of these tips are listed
• Never operate a chimney using bare hands. Use heat resistant gloves so as to avoid any thermal injury.
• Pick up the chimney only by using the handle provided with it. Also, it is better to use thongs while pouring out
hot coals into the grill.
• Even after removing the coals, chimney remains hot for a certain amount of time. Hence, always avoid touching it
with bare hands and always keep it away from inflammable materials.
• Use fire-safe bricks for placing chimney. Never place the chimney on a concrete surface and ignite. Heat coming
out from the chimney can damage the concrete and result in physical injury.
• Always have a fire extinguisher, a bucket of sand and water around when working with fire.