How to Light Charcoal without Lighter Fluid

How to Start Charcoal without Lighter Fluid

 
"Have you seen that other weird metal thing we've got over there?" the thrift store clerk asked, nodding her head toward a large, metal canister.
"No," I laughed. "What is it?"
"I don't know."
"Oh."
She shrugged. "Well, you got this weird thing, so I thought you might be interested in that one."
"I know what this one is."
Eyeing me skeptically, she asked, "What is it?"
"It helps you light your charcoal for a grill."
"Oh. Huh."
She still didn't look convinced. However, I was ecstatic to have found my weird, metal treasure for only two dollars.

I learned about charcoal chimneys from the Girl Scouts. They encourage you to make them out of humongous bi-metal food cans. (I'm sure that if you search a more organized and enthusiastic leader than I has posted a pictorial how to somewhere on the internet.)

This big, old baby holds more charcoal than its can counterpart. I hope it proves more durable as well, and the handle makes it much easier to handle.

Using this marvelous invention is easy. First, place a fire starter in the grill where you put the charcoal. Then, sit the chimney on top with a fire starter* in the center. Fill the chimney with charcoal. Light the fire starter through the holes at the bottom. Wait patiently. Smoke will come rolling out the top, and the charcoal will light from the bottom up. You can see its progress in the ventilation holes going up the sides.

Of course, fancier chimneys exist. If I wasn't so thrifty, I might have bought one of these pretty ones.

But I feel like my  used chimney suits my ancient, hand me down Weber grill that is older than I am and has been used by my family through three states!



*Fire starters can be store bought, but, of course, I prefer homemade. My favorite kind is these ugly little guys.

To make them, you will need a cardboard egg carton, dryer lint, and melted wax. I recommend using towel lint, so that it is fluffy  cotton. Synthetic fabric fibers are icky when they burn. Stuff the lint into the egg holes of the carton. Then, pour melted wax over it. You don't have to fill them up, but you want to use enough wax that it soaks into the lint. Of course, you can buy paraffin and melt it. A hippie alternative is to collect broken, de-papered crayons and used up candles. Break them into pieces and put them in a bi-metal can in a little pot of boiling water to melt. Be careful of the steam when you pour the wax. One egg cup will start your charcoal if you use the charcoal chimney.

Happy grilling!

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