Lighter fluid can help to light a barbecue quickly. However, lighter fluid also imparts an awful taste in food. This is why it is important to do things as naturally as possible.
Here, we want to run you through four different options to get your charcoals going. This means absolutely no lighter fluid needs to be used at all, and you will still have a barbecue ready to go in under 30-minutes.
In a hurry, Check out our suggestions here!
Recommended: Weber 7429 Rapidfire Chimney Starter
The Weber 7429 has long been regarded as one of the best chimney starters on the market. It is tough to argue with this.
This product is able to heat up most charcoal within 20-25-minutes. This includes non-instant start charcoal. You will have to use some sort of fire starter briquette for this, but they are cheap enough so this shouldn’t be that much of a problem.
With a 7.5-inch diameter and 13-inch height, you should be able to fit enough charcoals in here to cater to the typical backyard barbecue. All in all, it should hold somewhere between 60 and 100 briquettes, depending on the brand of product that you are using. It will be slightly lower if you are using ‘chunkier’ coals.
Many people praise just how easy it is to light. All you need to do is load it up with charcoals, place it on a metallic surface, light some firestarter briquettes beneath it, and the charcoals will burn pretty quickly. You will know that the charcoals are ready to pour on the barbecue once they have developed gray ash on them.
If you want to make things simpler for yourself, this chimney works just as well when it is lit with some paper. Just place the paper at the bottom of the chimney and light with a long lighter. This seems to be how the vast majority of people seem to be using it.
The real highlight of the Weber 7429 is the double handle design. This allows you to have a lot more control over the way in which you pour the charcoals. This ensures even covering over your barbecue. This, of course, results in far better cooking.
You will have to wear a pair of gloves while holding the handles, though. A common complaint with this starter chimney is that the handle can get exceedingly hot. If you aren’t careful, you will burn yourself. It is worth noting that Weber advertises their handles as being low-heat. However, the heat can only be so low when you have burning charcoals inches away.
- Quick to light
- Holds a substantial number of briquettes
- Charcoals ready in 25-minutes
- Easy to pour
- The handle can get very hot
While the Kingsford Quick Start Charcoal Chimney Starter may be sitting down on the lower end of the market, but that doesn’t mean that this product is lacking. In fact, it brings a surprising amount to the table.
The product is a little bit smaller than the previous Weber offering. It is 6.8″ in diameter with 11.25″ in height. This should still be enough to heat up the briquettes for a small to medium-sized barbecue.
Lighting this is just as easy as the Weber version. This means filling it up and lighting underneath, preferably with a firestarter briquette, although you can use paper if you wish.
It shouldn’t take too long for the charcoals to be completely lit up. At the most, you can expect around 30-minutes. This is because this product doesn’t retain heat as well as the other options on this list.
There some downsides to this being a budget option, though. Perhaps the biggest issue is the fact that the steel it has been made from isn’t the highest quality..
While the other chimneys on this list could easily last your years, this is one that may need to be replaced once per year. This is because the lower quality of metal will start to warp due to the intense heat.
This product is labeled as ‘rust-resistant’. However, it is only resistant. If you leave this outside for any sort of length of time, particularly if it is raining, then it will rust. When it rusts, you are going to need to be replacing it!
There is only one handle on this chimney. This means that you will have to be a little bit more careful when you are pouring things. The handle does a pretty decent job at keeping heat away from your hands, though. Of course, you will still want to wear gloves when you are pouring charcoals from the chimney to reduce the risk of you burning your hands.
- Budget option
- Heats up the charcoals surprisingly well for the price
- Holds enough charcoals for most people
- The metal will eventually rust
- The metal will start to warp within a year, rendering the chimney useless
Alternative: BBQ Dragon Start
The Dragon Starter is not a chimney starter, although it serves much the same purpose.
This starter is actually a small portable fan. It acts similarly to a bellows. This means that you can use it with charcoals that are already on the barbecue. However, it tends to work best when paired with a starter chimney.
This starter is capable of starting charcoals in as little as 10-minutes in some conditions. This will make it one of the fastest performing products on this list.
The only major downside is that for some baffling reason, the BBQ Dragon Starter makes use of a plastic fan. This isn’t good for when you are close to hot coals. Now, the fan blades are fine if you keep your distance with the Dragon. However, if you get any closer than 10-inches, the fan blades will probably melt. That being said, you don’t need to get that close anyway. The fan is plenty powerful enough.
There is a huge amount of adjustment on this product. This means that you can point the fan exactly where you want it to be. Barbecue lovers absolutely love this idea. It gives you more control over the charcoals that you want to boost the heat of which, as we all know, is vital for barbecue.
This is a portable unit. It has been designed to run on 4 x AA batteries. You can also slide some rechargeable batteries in there if you wish. The Dragon actually doubles as a battery charger via USB. Sadly, the batteries do not have the longest lifespan inside of the Dragon. It will probably only be a couple of uses before you have to charge them again. This does take away some of the portability of the device.
This certainly is not going to be something that everybody wants to add to their barbecue toolkit. However, if you want something that acts as a sort-of bellow, but is a bit more ‘technical’ than that i.e. you are a gadget lover, then this is probably going to be a great route to go down. It isn’t exactly going to be breaking the bank for barbecue lovers anyway.
- Heats up coals within 10-minutes
- Lots of adjustment in the fan
- Unique concept
- Batteries don’t last too long
- You cannot get close to the barbecue or it will melt
For Windy Days: Char-Broil Electric Charcoal Starter
We are going to round off with another product that isn’t a chimney, but is great for certain situations.
If you have ever used a chimney when it is windy out, you will know that it is impossible. The flame is blown out before it really has an opportunity to heat up the coals. Therefore, you need something different. Enter the Char-Broil Electric Coal Starter.
This product will set the coals alight using an electric shock. 550-watts will be delivered directly to the charcoals, heating them up in here minutes. Estimates suggest that the coals will be ready to go in as little as 10-minutes, although this will probably be a bit longer when the weather is windy.
You will need to use a mains power supply for this. This means that it isn’t really something that you can pull out during a nature hike unless you are carrying a generator around with you, we guess.
It is worth noting that charcoal chimneys are better. This is because with this device you will have to light each coal individually, which is annoying. However, an electric starter like this is always going to be the best option if you want something to light up a barbecue during the windier times of the year.
To cap it all off, this product is simple to use. You don’t have to worry about burning your hands or anything. The handle stays cool. Just plug it in, touch a charcoal (or a few of them) and hit the button. They should light up instantly.
- Great for windy weather
- Easy to use
- Lights up charcoals instantly, heating up fully in 10-minutes
- Cumbersome to light each coal individually