8 Ways on How to Light a Charcoal Chimney Starter

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 5, 2022

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In the old days people prefer the quicker method to light the charcoals for their grills and they often use starter fluid, mineral spirits, gasoline, kerosene, or any hydrocarbons.

However, that quick method is also unsafe and might start a fire and burn your house down or, God forbid, your entire neighborhood for that matter.

That’s why a chimney starter is so much easier, and here’s how to light them quickly and easily!

How to light a charcoal chimney starter

Fortunately, there are other safer methods to light the charcoal fuel for your grill and they are as follows:

  1. Used Newspaper – old newspapers works great with lighting charcoal plus you also repurpose waste which is efficient. The only downside is that it takes around 15 – 30 minutes for it to light the charcoal briquettes.
  2. Starter Blocks – starter blocks are leftover wood chips or saw dust that’s been glued together to form blocks and are easily combustible. They are odorless and environmentally friendly; however, they cost you a few bucks and they take just as long as old newspapers to burn the lump charcoal also.
  3. Repurposed Charcoal Bag – like used newspaper charcoal bags are made of paper too that you can use as a catalyst for your charcoal fuel. But it has the same flaws as the first 2 items mentioned here and those are the time it takes for it to ignite the charcoal and it’s not easily acquired.
  4. Dryer Lint in Paper Rolls – these things are also made of paper and are easy to combust and ignite the charcoal in the chimney starter; however, they’re not always available and you’d have to save a lot of them before you can make use of them. They do step up, however, in terms of the time it takes to ignite the charcoal as it only takes 10 – 15 minutes for these things to light the charcoal fuel.
  5. Electric Lite Charcoal Lighter – the high voltage passing through the iron rod of the electric charcoal lighter causes it to glow red and raises its temperature to almost 1,500 °C that is more than enough to ignite the charcoal briquettes. And because the circular iron rod covers nearly the diameter of the chimney starter, it ignites more charcoal lumps than paper can.
  6. Oil Soaked Paper Towels – cooking oil when subjected to high temperatures ignite and burn like gasoline does, so soaking paper towels in vegetable oil would make sense to ignite the charcoal lumps.
  7. Turkey Fryers – this device is nothing more than a portable LPG tank with an extended hose (no stove burners) that you can inject directly into the lump charcoal and ignite them with the flames from the gas. It’s clean, quick and easy to handle.
  8. Portable Butane Burner – this device is the more streamlined version of the turkey fryer and it uses butane instead of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) to create fire in its burner. The hob fits right into the bottom of the chimney starter, thereby heating it up efficiently and quickly making the charcoal briquettes ignite faster.
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.