The Best Charcoal Chimney Starter For Your Charcoal Grill

Best Charcoal Chimney Starter

Discover the best charcoal chimney starter to enhance your charcoal grilling experience! Our comprehensive guide compares top-rated options, considering their durability, design, and functionality, helping you choose the perfect charcoal companion.

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What is a Charcoal Chimney Starter?

For barbecue lovers, the rich, smoky taste that charcoal grilling brings to food is incomparable. However, one of the challenges of charcoal grilling is getting that fire started! This is where a charcoal chimney starter comes in. This device is designed to make the process of lighting charcoal quick, easy, and efficient, providing you with perfectly lit coals ready for grilling every time.

A charcoal chimney starter, also known as a charcoal starter, is a simple tool that can save you both time and frustration. No more struggling with lighter fluid or waiting endlessly for the charcoal to heat up. With a chimney starter, you’re guaranteed to get your charcoal grill started in a matter of minutes, and without the chemical taste that lighter fluid can sometimes leave behind.

In this article, we’re going to take a close look at some of the best charcoal chimney starters available in the market today. We’ll also provide you with a handy buying guide to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you’re a seasoned griller or a novice, this guide will help you choose the best charcoal chimney starter for your needs, ensuring that you get the most out of your charcoal grilling experience.

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Quick Overview: The Best Charcoal Chimney Starters

Best Overall Charcoal Chimney Starter

Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter

Weber Chimney Starter
Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter
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09/12/2023 03:51 pm GMT

Weber is a renowned name in the world of outdoor cooking and they prove that with the Rapidfire Chimney Starter. If you’re looking for a tool that delivers hot coals quickly and efficiently for your barbecues, this is a top-notch pick. The Rapidfire features a simple yet effective design: a 7.5-inch diameter and 13-inch high aluminized steel cylinder. The lack of paint ensures no discoloration or flaking, and its rust-resistant quality guarantees longevity.

What makes the Weber Rapidfire stand out from other chimney starters is its specialized cone-shaped grate. This design allows for better airflow, enabling the charcoal to light up faster and evenly. The logic is simple – the conical shape amplifies the chimney effect, leading to more briquettes lighting up simultaneously. Even if you’re not a physics whiz, this chimney starter is all about making things quick and easy for you.

To use, simply fill it with briquettes, place it atop the lighted lighter cubes, and wait for the top layer to turn ash gray. After that, it’s time to pour the charcoal onto your grill and get barbecuing.

This charcoal starter is ideal for anyone who enjoys grilling on a charcoal cooker. Whether you’re a barbecue enthusiast or simply someone who enjoys outdoor cooking, the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter is a must-have tool. Best used on the Weber 22-inch Kettle Grill, this chimney will transform your charcoal grilling experience from good to great.

What We Liked
  • Fast and even lighting of charcoal.
  • Durable and rust-resistant construction.
  • Cool-touch handle with a heat shield for safe use.
What We Didn’t Like
  • Pouring the briquettes can be tricky with one hand.

All in all, the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter is a truly great product. Its unique design ensures efficient charcoal lighting, and its durability means it will be a part of your grilling adventures for a long time. Despite a couple of drawbacks, its overall performance and value make it an essential accessory for any charcoal grill. So, the next time you plan a barbecue, make sure you have the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter by your side.

Runner-Up Best Charcoal Chimney Starter

Char-Griller Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter

Char Griller Chimney Starter

The Char-Griller Charcoal Grill Chimney Starter is more than just a grill accessory. If you want to get the coals hot and ready for your barbecue in less than 15 minutes, then this is your go-to tool. The chimney style design works great by creating a vortex that funnels air and traps heat, firing up your charcoal quickly.

In our tests, using this tool was a breeze. It’s made of zinc-coated steel which not only makes it durable but also helps it distribute heat evenly. There are tons of ventilation holes, which means more oxygen gets to the fire, speeding up the lighting process. The handle is made of ABS plastic and is well-sized, meaning it’s easy and safe to hold. And the built-in heat shield? That’s a nice touch to keep our hands from getting too hot!

This chimney starter is uniquely designed to fit the Char-Griller AKORN Grill’s fuel-loading opening, but don’t fret if you don’t own that specific model. It works well with all charcoal BBQ grills. And the most exciting part is the release lever in front of the handle. It’s like a coal hopper and lets you unload the chimney from the bottom. This feature gives you control over where you want to place your hot briquettes.

But, like everything, it’s not all sunshine. Although the release lever is cool, we wonder about its longevity. Moving parts can sometimes fail sooner than we’d like. Plus, unloading hot coals from the bottom may take some getting used to. If you’re not careful, it might lead to some unexpected charcoal drops.

What We Liked
  • Quickly produces hot coals for grilling
  • Efficient design funnels air and traps heat for faster lighting
  • Large ABS plastic handle with heat shield for safe handling
  • Release lever allows controlled unloading of briquettes
What We Didn’t Like
  • The release lever’s longevity is a concern
  • Unloading hot coals from the bottom requires careful handling to avoid accidental spills.

In a nutshell, the Char-Griller Chimney Starter is a solid runner-up. It’s efficient, practical, and innovatively designed. Its size (7.6”L x 12”W x 12”H) and weight (5lbs) make it portable, and the E-Z dump handle with a protective heat shield brings an added safety feature. It may have some quirks, but they don’t overshadow its performance and value.

Best Luxury Charcoal Chimney Starter

BBQ Dragon Chimney of Insanity Charcoal Starter

Bbq Dragon Chimney Starter

The BBQ Dragon Chimney of Insanity Charcoal Starter is what luxury grilling dreams are made of. If you want a chimney starter that’s big on capacity and short on ignition time, this one’s a must-have.

This chimney starter is made of zinc steel plated body that’s designed for long-lasting use and to resist rust. But the standout feature is its 90-degree elbow design, which lets you connect a charcoal fan for even faster ignition. It draws in more air than most grill starters, helping to kickstart your grilling session in no time.

In our experience, we found that the BBQ Dragon lives up to its promise. We got our briquettes and lump charcoal ready in just 2 to 3 minutes. Its unique side holes meant we could light the coal without having to lift the chimney. This not only saved us time and effort, but also made it a safer option to use.

One thing we loved was its heat shield and heat-resistant nylon handle. They add an extra layer of safety, ensuring you won’t burn your hands. It’s easy to use and offers a much simpler way to fire up your briquettes without using lighter cubes or fluids.

However, it’s not all perfect. It might be a little too big and bulky for some users, especially if you’re used to smaller and more compact chimney starters. The size might also make it a little difficult to handle for some.

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What We Liked
  • Large capacity can hold up to 4.5 pounds of coal
  • Quick ignition time gets your charcoal ready in just 2 to 3 minutes
  • 90-degree elbow design allows connection to a charcoal fan for faster ignition
  • Side holes allow for easy lighting without having to lift the chimney
  • Heat shield and heat-resistant nylon handle for safe use
What We Didn’t Like
  • Its size may be too big and bulky for some users
  • Handle may be difficult to grip for some due to the size of the chimney starter

Overall, the BBQ Dragon Charcoal Starter is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a high-capacity, quick-starting, and safe chimney starter. It’s well-made, easy to use, and offers excellent performance.

Most Affordable Charcoal Chimney Starter

KINGSFORD Heavy Duty Deluxe Charcoal Chimney Starter

Kingsford Chimney Starter

The KINGSFORD Charcoal Chimney Starter is an excellent choice for grillers on a budget. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to wait around for your grill to heat up, this could be a game-changer.

This starter is made with durable, rust-resistant zinc steel, so you know it can stand up to many barbecue adventures. Another great feature is the heat shield and stay-cool handle. This makes lighting your grill safe and easy, as it keeps your hands protected from the quick-lighting heat.

In our experience, we found the KINGSFORD Chimney Starter to be a quick and efficient way to get our grill ready. We liked how fast it was able to get our charcoal ready to cook. The stay-cool handle was a great touch, as it made it safe to handle the chimney even when it was hot.

However, we did notice that the quality may not be as high as some of the more expensive chimney starters. But for its price, it still offers great value.

What We Liked
  • Large capacity suitable for lighting large grills
  • Features a heat shield and stay-cool handle for safe use
  • No assembly required, ready to use out of the box
What We Didn’t Like
  • Might not be as durable as more expensive models
  • Heating performance may decrease after a few uses

At the end of the day, the KINGSFORD Charcoal Chimney Starter is a good, affordable option if you’re looking for a quick and efficient way to light your grill. Despite its minor drawbacks, its overall performance and value for money make it a good choice for both beginners and seasoned grillers.

Most Portable Chimney Starter

Royal Gourmet Foldable Charcoal Chimney Fire Starter

Royal Gourmet Portable Chimney Starter

If you’re a grill enthusiast who loves to grill on-the-go, the Royal Gourmet Foldable Charcoal Chimney Fire Starter could be your new best friend. This chimney starter stands out for its portability, being able to fold down in just three steps to an ultra-thin size for easy storage and convenient carrying. This could be a lifesaver on camping trips, at the RV park, or even for a quick barbecue in the backyard.

The Royal Gourmet starter is designed with premium quality charcoal grate and eight large holes, promising better air flow. This design feature helps light the coals evenly and quickly, usually in less than 15 minutes. That means more time enjoying your meal and less time waiting for it to cook.

While using this product, we were pleasantly surprised by its dual function. It comes equipped with a stainless-steel cooking grate that lets you use it as a mini grill, perfect for those moments when you don’t have access to a full-size grill. Its stay-cool handle with a heat shield also adds an extra layer of safety and convenience.

However, it’s important to note that while the Royal Gourmet Starter is excellent for portable use, it might not be the best choice for larger grilling tasks. Also, because it’s so compact, the handle might feel a bit small for those with larger hands.

What We Liked
  • Ultra-portable with a compact folding style
  • Can be used as a mini grill
  • Stay-cool handle with a heat shield for safety
  • Lights coals evenly and quickly
What We Didn’t Like
  • Might not be suitable for larger grilling tasks
  • Handle might be a bit small for those with larger hands

Despite these minor issues, the Royal Gourmet Foldable Charcoal Chimney Fire Starter‘s impressive portability, quick lighting, and dual functionality make it a unique and valuable tool for all grill enthusiasts, especially those who love to grill outdoors.

Best Charcoal Chimney Starter Set

homenote Rapid Charcoal Chimney Starter Set

Homenote Charcoal Starter Set

For those who want to have all the necessary grilling accessories in one set, the homenote Rapid Charcoal Chimney Starter Set might just be the best fit. This set takes the stress out of grilling by including everything you need: a charcoal chimney starter, lighter cubes, heat-resistant mitts, and a portable air blower.

The standout feature of this set is the charcoal chimney starter. Measuring 11.5″ x 7″ x 7″, this zinc-plated steel chimney starter is built to resist rust and extend its life. The wooden handle design adds an extra layer of safety, preventing scalds when you’re getting your fire started. To help with lighting the charcoal, the set also includes lighter cubes. Each cube burns for around 8-10 minutes, ensuring your charcoal is well lit.

Adding to the convenience is the portable air blower. This handy tool helps speed up the charcoal lighting process, getting your grill hot faster. When it’s time to handle the hot coals, the included heat-resistant mitts will protect your hands, ensuring a safe grilling experience.

While the homenote set offers a lot of value, it’s important to note that the chimney starter is on the smaller side. So, for those who need a large amount of hot coals, this might not be the best fit. And although the chimney is zinc plated for rust resistance, its longevity might be reduced if not properly taken care of.

What We Liked
  • Includes a full set of grilling accessories
  • Zinc-plated steel chimney starter for rust resistance
  • Comes with lighter cubes that burn for 8-10 minutes
  • Includes heat-resistant mitts and a portable air blower
What We Didn’t Like
  • Chimney starter is smaller than some might prefer
  • Longevity might be affected if not properly cared for

Overall, the homenote Rapid Charcoal Chimney Starter Set offers a comprehensive and convenient solution for grill enthusiasts. It’s great for use in fireplaces, BBQs, wood stoves, fire pits, barbecues, campfires, and pizza ovens. It’s an excellent choice for both seasoned grillers and those new to the barbecue scene.

In Review – Our Picks For The Best Charcoal Chimney Starter

How To Use A Charcoal Chimney Starter

The aroma of grilled food wafts through the air, the sizzle as food hits the hot grates — these are the hallmark signs of a good barbecue. The heart of this enjoyable experience is a well-lit charcoal grill, often achieved using a chimney starter.

Chimney starters offer a simple, effective method to light charcoal without the need for lighter fluid or other chemicals. So, how do you use one? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Step 1 – Prep the Grill

Before we begin the lighting process, it’s essential to clean your grill. Old ash or leftover charcoal can obstruct airflow and affect the heat of your fire. So, ensure the bottom of your grill is clean and the vents are fully open for the best results.

Step 2 – Prep the Chimney Starter

Now, it’s time to get your chimney starter ready. Take two to three sheets of newspaper, crumple them into loose balls, and place these in the bottom section of the chimney starter. The newspaper will serve as your fire starter, helping to ignite the charcoal. You can also opt for store-bought fire starters in this step.

Step 3 – Add the Charcoal

Once the newspaper is securely placed, add your charcoal into the top part of the chimney starter. Fill it up to the brim for a full fire, or use less if you’re planning a smaller cookout. Either lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes can be used, depending on your preference.

Step 4 – Light It Up

With the chimney starter stocked and ready, it’s time to light the fire. Using a long match or a grill lighter for safety, ignite the newspaper or fire starters through the holes at the bottom of the chimney starter. You’ll see flames start to rise, and they’ll begin to slowly light the charcoal.

Step 5 – Wait

Now comes the part that requires a bit of patience. Once the fire starter is lit, sit back and wait. It should take about 10-20 minutes for the charcoal to become hot and covered in a gray ash. This ash indicates that the charcoal is ready for cooking.

Step 6 – Pour Out the Charcoal

Once your charcoal is beautifully ashed over and glowing, it’s time to get it into the grill. With heat-resistant grill gloves to protect your hands, grab the handle of the chimney starter, and give it a gentle shake to ensure all coals are fully lit. Then carefully dump the hot coals into the grill.

Step 7 – Spread the Charcoal

After you’ve transferred the coals to the grill, use a long-handled grill tool to spread them out evenly across the bottom of the grill. This step is crucial for providing consistent heat during cooking.

Step 8 – Prep for Cooking

Lastly, place your grill grate back over the coals and give it a few minutes to heat up. A hot grate helps sear the food on contact and contributes to those delightful grill marks.

What Makes A Good Charcoal Chimney Starter?

Charcoal chimneys, also known as charcoal starters, are handy tools that help you get your burning charcoal ready for that perfect kettle grill cookout. But what makes a good charcoal chimney starter? Key factors include construction material, size and capacity, and safety features.

Construction Material

When considering the best charcoal chimneys, one important aspect to note is the construction material. Durability is key since the chimney starter needs to withstand high heat levels. Many top-rated charcoal starters are made from aluminized steel or heavy-gauge steel, which are both durable and rust-resistant.

Also, look at the design of the vent holes. Vent holes allow air to flow through, ensuring the charcoal heats up evenly and quickly. The best charcoal chimneys will have multiple vent holes arranged in a strategic pattern to maximize air circulation.

Size & Capacity

Whether you have a small charcoal grill or a full-size charcoal grill, you’ll need a chimney starter that matches. The size of the charcoal chimney you choose will directly affect how much charcoal you can light at once and how quickly you can start grilling.

A large charcoal chamber in a chimney starter means you can load more charcoal, which is great for larger grills or longer cooking times. However, if you’re only grilling a few burgers on a small grill, a chimney with a smaller capacity might be more suitable. Knowing how much charcoal you usually use can help you pick a chimney starter with enough capacity to suit your needs.


When dealing with burning charcoal, safety is paramount. Look for charcoal chimneys with features like a heat guard or heat shields, which can help protect your hands from the high temperatures. These features prevent the handles from getting too hot to hold, enabling you to handle the chimney safely.

Grill gloves are another essential safety item to consider. Some chimney starters come with heat-resistant grill gloves, but they can also be purchased separately. Using grill gloves will provide extra protection when you’re dumping hot charcoal into your grill.

A well-made, suitably sized, and safe charcoal chimney starter can greatly enhance your grilling experience. It’s worth spending some time to research and invest in the right one for your needs.

Charcoal Chimney Starter FAQs

What is a charcoal chimney starter?

A charcoal chimney starter is a device used to quickly and evenly ignite charcoal for barbecuing without the need for lighter fluid.

How does a charcoal chimney starter work?

A charcoal chimney starter works by using heat from a small amount of newspaper or lighter cubes placed under a grate filled with charcoal. The heat and upward airflow cause the charcoal to ignite.

Why use a charcoal chimney starter?

A charcoal chimney starter helps light charcoal quickly and evenly without the use of chemicals, resulting in cleaner and better tasting grilled food.

How long does it take for a charcoal chimney starter to light the charcoal?

On average, a charcoal chimney starter takes about 15-20 minutes to fully light the charcoal.

How do I know when the charcoal in my chimney starter is ready?

The charcoal in your chimney starter is ready when the top layer of charcoal starts to turn white with ash.

Is a charcoal chimney starter safe to use?

Yes, a charcoal chimney starter is safe to use, especially ones that come with safety features such as a heat guard and a stay-cool handle. Always handle with care and use heat-resistant grill gloves for added safety.

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