This is the best way to start a charcoal barbecue

Wow. The stuff I got was too good for my comfort level. I used to mix it 50/50 with plain briquets because it ignited so fast and burned too quickly.

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When I would use match light it was usually because I ran out of the regular and had to use gas station charcoal; might have sat there ten years before someone bought it ( at approx 1$ / briquette ). It usually went like this: light it, wait ten minutes, become disappointed, get container of starter fluid, spray onto sorta hot briquettes, “FAP! FAP! FLOOM!”, repeat a couple times, then finally have a grill hot enough to cook on for about ten minutes. Chimney works much better for me :slight_smile:


They’re pretty cheap. I just checked and they’re $23.

That’s about four times what I paid for mine

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Well, if it works for you.

Like one made from a coffee can?

Those instructions are far more elaborate than are even required…

It’s also really handy if you want a concentrated, insanely hot column of air for quick sears. Put a couple of burgers on a rack and stick 'em on top of the chimney…a minute on each side and you get a crunchy, juicy burger.


I’ve been using chimneys for years, cheap ones I found or bought cheap at garage -type sales, or the fancier weber ones from… I don’t remember. Never looked back. Only reason I’d use fluid is if I was going camping without a lot of space for the chimney. I was covid grocery shopping last week, saw a mid-20s couple behind me at the checkout, they had a bottle of fluid in their basket. I thought… why…?

Fluid is super bad for the air. Most of those ancient hydrocarbons don’t burn and into the atmosphere they go…

I lived in Okmulgee Oklahoma for a couple years. Live just outside Pittsburgh again now.

I know exactly what you mean.

Most people on the East Coast don’t know what real BBQ is- and Oklahoma completely redefined my understanding of the term.

I stopped over in Texas and Arkansas and a few other places around 2- you guys have some badass BBQ down in Texas.

I still prefer the Homer Simpson method for any of this though, way more fun.


Nonono. No lighter fluid ever. Use one of these chimneys and good lump charcoal. You will never look back.


To do barbecue correctly, it must be low and slow: simply take some meat, launch it into outer space, wait for the heat death of the universe, then enjoy! No charcoals needed.


The weber has wires at the base to let ash out - the cheapies I’ve seen (and bought) have a punched plate that doesn’t seem to let it out as well.

That’s important for the other use of these - as a massive jet engine/blowtorch cooker. Put another small grate on top of the chimney and sear stuff up there. Or just use a teeny amount of charcoal to normally cook one item without needing a bigger pile down below.

This is very interesting. I was always under the impression it derived from the French “barbe a cue” (beard to tail), and referenced the spit roasting of a pig. I can’t remember where I got that impression, however, my misinformed belief is probably a great example of white revisionist history in action. Thank you for educating me.

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I’ve had a Weber chimney for about 15 years and love it. Got it at a big-box store for $19.99 on sale. If it had been $50, I could understand the drive to buy something cheaper, but…

At first, I used newspaper in it, but it makes way too much fly ash. I found that brown paper grocery bags - especially Trader Joe’s bags - are just the right weight and composition. It takes a little more than half a bag, torn up and crumpled into the bottom of the chimney; if I’m running two grills, I can get two chimneys’ worth out of a single bag. The ash is very low-residue, compared to newsprint.

Just use a better designed charcoal stove, with a small firepit at the bottom. You put a old waxed milk carton in, light it, then tip in the charcoal.

You can buy charcoal stoves in Shauri Moyo market in Nairobi where artisans make them from old oil drums, a pottery liner and vermiculite.

No barbecue in North America or Europe is as energy efficient as the ones made in Kenya.


Is this what I have been doing wrong? The instructions that came with my Weber Grill and starter said after 20 minutes (or when white ash starts to form in top) to lay the coals out. I get heat, but not as fierce as I’d like. Perhaps I need to let them burn longer - I’m worried there would be nothing left if I do.

I confess to also owning a gas grill that I use more frequently due to convenience, but I generally prefer the results from the charcoal.

I wonder how many of us are scoffing at the charcoal users? They’re still a step ahead of the gas grill users, imo.

Two tips:

  1. get the wax starter cubes. they’re extremely convenient. are they poisonous or something? I don’t know, probably not as much as starter fluid or late-stage capitalism.
  2. DO NOT put the chimney on stone or concrete. The intense heat can cause pockets of moisture to expand, which results in an explosion. I was almost seriously injured by one.

I use two small firestarter cubes with my chimney, they work fast and as noted elsewhere don’t leave a bunch of ash like newspaper. But I’m about as far as you can get from a BBQ/grilling purist, and I use a very small grill to burn meat, so YMMV.


Parafin cubes, theoretically they’re carcinogenic but so’s that charcoal so do it in a well ventilated area.

Yeah, as a rule don’t set fires on top of unknown rocks or concrete.

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