For Better Grilled Vegetables, Use Your Chimney Starter: Reasons you need to know
Sep 03, 2023 By Fabian Forte

There's no denying that during the summer months and for some diehards, even during the colder days, grilling is one of our favorite methods to begin cooking. Nothing beats the flavor of a freshly cooked burger, ribs, or even vegetables chargrilled to perfection.

But let's be honest: Lighting a charcoal barbecue takes time, and lighter fluid can make even your favorite meals taste average. While a gas grill has advantages, nothing beats the flavor that can only come from cooking over an open flame.

Once you learn the fundamentals, using it is a breeze. To avoid using lighter fluid, which may impart an off-putting chemical flavor to food, charcoal chimneys, also known as "chimney starters," make it simple to ignite either type of charcoal.

How To Use A Chimney Starter?

Charcoal for grilling can be quickly lit with the help of a chimney starter. It's a metal tube with one end cut off and a charcoal grate attached to the interior near the base. A small fire is built under the grate at the bottom of the cylinder, and the necessary amount of charcoal is inserted in the top.

The "chimney effect" ignites the charcoal evenly from the base to the apex. Once the coals are hot, you may add more unlit charcoal to the smoker or pour them in as is, depending on your fire technique.

How to Use Weber Lighter Cubes to Light a Chimney Starter?

The easiest and cleanest method to fire a chimney starter is with Weber Lighter Cubes. The burn period of these 1300°F paraffin wax cubes is 10–12 minutes. Put all the charcoal you intend to use in the chimney and get it ready to fire.

Set the chimney above the charcoal and ignite one or two lighter cubes on the grate with a butane lighter. Depending on the amount of charcoal in the chimney, the wind speed, and the type of charcoal being used, lighting the coals might take anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 minutes.

Orange coloration towards the bottom of the chimney starter, flames licking at the charcoal near the top of the chimney, and the beginning of gray ash formation on some charcoal near the top indicate that the charcoal is ready. Do not wait until the charcoal at the top of the chimney has completely ashed over; by that time, most of the charcoal at the bottom will be burned out, and you may safely put it into your stove.

Newspaper Method for Lighting Chimney Starter

Many newspapers were lying about or being recycled in the good old days before the Internet, cell phones, and online news. Historically, a chimney starter was lit with a piece of old newspaper. Paper newspapers are untidy, but that's about all. After you burn the paper, a fine cloud of ash will fill the air surrounding your patio from the chimney.

Loosely roll the paper from one corner to the other using the diagonal to create a square. Together, the two pieces should form a donut that can slide into the chimney starter. Put another newspaper sheet through the process.

Put the two newspaper circles at the chimney's base. Keep in mind that this creates a gap in the middle of the newspaper that allows air to rise and spark the flame more quickly. Put the chimney on the charcoal grill with the correct side up.

To light charcoal, place the desired amount in the chimney. You may use a butane lighter to fire the newspaper by lifting the chimney's edge in many places. Smoke will emerge from the top when you light the chimney starter.

How To Know Your Charcoal Chimney Starter Is Ready To Use?

Charcoal is ready when it has stopped smoking, and the outside edges of the top layer of coals are white and ashy. You can obtain a fast, smoky char on delicate, sensitive veggies like broccolini, peppers, thinly sliced squash, asparagus, or any other plant component that responds well with a rush of incredibly intense heat before the grill reaches its perfect temperature.

Cucumbers or pickles are suitable options, but sturdy vegetables like potatoes and carrots are not. That is an ideal version. Get the charcoal chimney going the standard way: Put charcoal inside and ignite the cube over it. Just let the chimney vent itself.

When the chimney has stopped smoking, and a red glow can be seen under the ashy surface of the coals, it's time to put a wire rack over the top and have your veggies ready to go in. Don't freak out if you see warping in your wire rack. If you press on it while it's still hot, you can bend it back into shape. Heat-resistant gloves should be used for protection.

Safety Tips For Chimney Starter

  • Chimney starters should never be used on or near combustible surfaces like dry grass or wooden decking.
  • When grilling, you should always have a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • Protect your hands and feet with heat-resistant gloves and shoes when handling a hot chimney starter. Charcoal embers can fall from the chimney and burn bare or flip-flopped feet if they land on the terrace below.
  • Remember that despite the charcoal being thrown out, the chimney will still be hot for some time.

Conclusion:

Charcoal may be lit with less lighter fluid if you use a chimney starter. Using lighter fluid can generate more smoke, boosting the creation of harmful PAHs and HCAs. Smoking food over an open flame poses certain hazards to your health, but there are benefits to utilizing a charcoal barbecue.

The smokey taste that develops using a charcoal grill is difficult to achieve with any other cooking. Charcoal grills are wonderful for outdoor cooking since they are inexpensive, lightweight, and portable. In conclusion, charcoal grilling can pose certain hazards to your health, but there are ways to lessen those dangers.