Under 2 hours
Charcoal is a go-to source of fuel for cooking outdoors. Many people use it for grilling or smoking a wide range of foods, from tasty brisket to fish and vegetables. Figuring out how to light a grill with charcoal is not always easy for beginners. Adding a charcoal chimney to your setup will not only eliminate the need for lighter fluid, but it helps your charcoal burn evenly. This guide will teach you how to use a charcoal chimney so you can get your grill up to temperature from the start.
What is a Charcoal Chimney?
The most common way to start a fire for cooking is to dump charcoal briquettes into a grill, saturate the charcoal with lighter fluid and ignite it with a charcoal starter, like a long-wand flame or lighter cubes that catch fire when lit. An option that ensures your charcoal burns evenly in the grill is a charcoal chimney.
A charcoal chimney is designed to get your charcoal ready for cooking before it goes into the bottom of your grill.
Here are a few reasons a charcoal chimney should be included with your other grilling accessories:
- It eliminates the need for lighter fluid or fluid-infused charcoal briquettes, so you can buy natural briquettes that don’t pose any health risks for cooking over an open flame.
- It ensures that you’re working with an even heat source, eliminating hot zones and dead areas on charcoal grills to cook consistently every time.
- It makes your coals less susceptible to wind and weather changes. Charcoal briquettes that come out of a chimney will be heated thoroughly, making them less likely to extinguish in the middle of grilling.
Add Paper and Fill with Coals
The first step is to put paper and charcoal into the chimney. No lighter fluid is needed for this step, but try not to use charcoal that is the highly combustible ready-light kind.
- Remove the grate at the bottom of your charcoal chimney.
- Place two sheets of wadded up newspaper in the bottom and put the grate back in place. Do not put too much paper inside or it will block the air flow needed for the paper to ignite.
- Pull a few pieces of paper out of the grate from the bottom for easier lighting.
- Fill the chimney starter to the top with charcoal. While you can use less charcoal, you’ll typically get better results if you fill the entire chimney to the top. Almost all grills can easily handle that much charcoal.
Some people prefer to light their charcoal chimney with special lighter cubes. To do this, you’ll skip the step that involves newspaper and fill your chimney as desired with charcoal. Then, place the lighter cubes on top and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Light the Paper
Ignite your newspaper with a long-handled flame lighter through the holes on the bottom of the charcoal chimney. Be sure to place it inside your grill or put it on a surface that is not flammable and won’t get damaged, like exterior brick or concrete.
Allow Coals to Burn
Let the charcoal chimney get your coals ready for about 15 to 20 minutes. Check regularly to make sure you see a little smoke.
Your coals are ready to use when they’re about 50 percent burned and white ash forms around the edges.
Remove Grill Grates and Arrange Coals
Remove the grates from your grill if you haven’t already done this. Add the charcoal to the bottom of your grill.
- Check your coals to make sure they all look like they’re burning evenly. Move cold-looking coals closer to hot ones that are glowing red to distribute heat evenly.
- Now, arrange your charcoal as desired for direct or indirect cooking. Put the grill grate back on and let your coals heat the grill for about 10 to 15 minutes, checking them often.
Begin Grilling Food
Add your food to the grill and cook as desired. If necessary, you can burn more charcoal in your chimney starter as you go. This is particularly helpful if you know you’re going to be cooking for a big group or all-day event.
Use a charcoal chimney to start a grilling fire that burns hot and evenly. Perfect your grilling setup with a wide range of charcoal starters and grill accessories. Whether you’ve been grilling for years or you just got your first charcoal grill, we’ve got the tools you need. Download The Home Depot Mobile App and select and buy the items you want. We’ll deliver online orders where and when you need them.