The 5 best BBQ Smoker Chimney Starters reviewed | Check it out

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  March 10, 2019

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Almost every American loves to chill down on the weekends and burn some steak or hotdog in their charcoal grill in their front or backyard.

Since grilling is essentially an American tradition it’s not surprising to find that nearly every home in America has at least one BBQ grill tucked away in their garage or storage area.

In this post I’ll talk about my most trusted BBQ smoker product, the chimney fire starter.

people barbecuing under green tree

Most grills use charcoal as fuel, but some are built to be powered by liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), electric starters and wood pellets.

Normally a charcoal lighter fluid, which is made from kerosine, is used to ignite the lump charcoal, but it is now recommended that old newspapers or electric charcoal lighter be used instead as a replacement.

However, if you want to ignite the charcoal briquettes faster, then you’ll need to use a BBQ smoker chimney starter.

5 Best Charcoal Chimney Starters

How to buy a bbq smoker video x
How to buy a bbq smoker video

Now that you know how to use the chimney starter and what to look for when choosing one, it is time to select the best brands that most users would also recommend to you.

For this reason we’ve reviewed 5 different charcoal chimney starters for you to choose from to use for your own barbecue grill at home.

Read through our list and decide for yourself which chimney starter best suits your needs for grilling.

Also read: A simple Mac and Cheese recipe with Gouda you can’t beat

Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter

A simple, durable and reliable tool for preparing very important meals for various ocassions – that’s the reputation that the Weber Rapidfire has made over the years on its customers.

It features an aluminized steel body, non-heat conductive thermoplastic handle, 2-handle design for increased comfort when lifting and pouring the coals over to the BBQ grill, has a large heat shield and more volume that can hold more charcoal briquettes.

Customers have reported owning and using the Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter for over 2 decades before buying a new one!

The key feature of this chimney starter is the conical wire grid inside that holds up the charcoal.

This allows for air to pass through more and circulate from its vents up to its stack thereby igniting the charcoal lumps quickly and efficiently.



Get the weber Rapid here on Amazon

GrillPro 39470 Chimney Style Charcoal Starter

If you want a chimney starter that can ignite the charcoal in half the time it takes for other brands, then all you need is the GrillPro 39470 to do the job for you!

GrillPro is also intuitively designed so that it can hold up almost a kilogram of charcoal briquettes and is also well ventilated that it can ignite the coals in just 10 minutes compared to the 20 – 30 minutes igniting time for other brands.

As you can see from the Amazon page the holes on its air vents at the bottom and on the grill plate are larger than most models, which allows for more air circulation and fuel combustion.

It has a rubber handle as oppose to a thermoplastic option, but it will keep your hands safe while handling and pouring the smoldering lumps of charcoal onto your charcoal grill.

used  charcoal



Check prices and availability here

Firefly Grill ‘N More

Built intuitively to withstand high temperatures the Firefly Grill ‘N More charcoal chimney starter is a great option for all your roasting plans.

This chimney starter is made from heavy duty stainless steel which makes it long-lasting; able to withstand high temperatures from the smoldering charcoal lumps and briquettes, impact and corrosion resistance.

Now you don’t have to wait for an hour to prepare your charcoal grill and cook your favorite grilled foods because the Firefly Grill ‘N More charcoal chimney starter can do it for you in half the time!

Its ventilation holes at the bottom of the cylinder as well as the grill plate are a bit larger than most starters, which makes it ignite the briquettes quicker.



Check out the latest prices here

Cuisinart CCC-100 Charcoal Chimney

This is the one charcoal chimney starter with a wooden handle that will not cause any hazard to your hand as you lift it up with all those hot coals inside.

This chimney starter will easily ignite the charcoal briquettes in less than 20 minutes without the assistance of a lighter fluid or kerosine fuel.

The reason for it is because the starter does not only have venting holes at the bottom section of its body and the grill plate, but it also has smaller vent holes scattered across its upper portion.

This allows for air to circulate effectively throughout the starter and when there’s more air, then more oxygen is burned and the charcoal will light up faster.

The designers understood that all that heat in the starter will radiate outwards in all direction, which is why they’ve installed the large heat shield flaps parallel to the handle to keep the heat from radiating to your hands and you’ll be able to handle the starter without any problems.



It’s available here on Amazon

BBQ Dragon Chimney of Insanity Charcoal Starter

The BBQ Dragon Chimney of Insanity Charcoal Starter has a unique design that allows it to ignite charcoal briquettes at an even faster rate than the fastest known starters in the market.

The reason why this is so is because it’s the only one of its kind that features the innovative 90- degree elbow air intake tube that can be powered by an external mini electric fan that literally blows air into the starter.

This is also the first chimney starter to feature its vent holes in the shape of the letter of its name “BBQ Dragon,” which is catchy and adds aesthetics to the overall design.

Since the letters are bored through the cylinder are rather unusually larger than conventional vent holes, it helps draw more air into the starter and allows for faster ignition of the charcoal lumps.



Check it out here

What is a Chimney Starter?

A chimney starter, also called a charcoal chimney, is a device that is used to ignite either lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes.

The typical design dimensions of it is about 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and is roughly 12 – 18 inches (30 – 45 cm) in height. It’s also made of stainless steel.

Chimney starters also have a quarter inch thick metal plate/grate with horizontal holes evenly spaced across its surface. It is placed at about 3 inches (8 cm) from the bottom.

In order to effectively burn the charcoal in the chimney starter it is designed with large holes located below the grate, which allows air to circulate through it.

To prevent your hands from searing with the extreme temperatures being channeled through the chimney starter, they are also designed with insulated handles so you can safely start your bbq smoker.

8 Ways on How to Light a Charcoal Chimney Starter

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.

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.

How to Choose the Best Charcoal Chimney Starter (Buying Guide)

used charcoal

Most charcoal chimney starters are made of high qualty materials and follow the purpose of their design, but you’d still need to be looking for the best in order to get more for your money’s worth.

In this section of this article we will be talking about how you can make informed decisions when purchasing a chimney starter.

The first thing you’ll need to know is how to use this device and below is a brief tutorial for you:

Features to Look for in a Chimney Starter

A.) More Volume Space – look for chimney starters with more volume to accommodate a greater percentage of charcoal lumps. The more charcoal briquettes you can pack in your chimney starter, the faster you’ll ignite your grill.

B.) Safely Spaced Handles – buy chimney starters with handles that are placed at a good distance from the body of the starter besides them being thermally insulated. Chimney starter handles that are placed too close to the hot metal surface of it has a high risk of burning accidents, so get your half-foot long rulers and make sure that the highest arch of the handle is at least 4 inches from the chimney starter surface.

C.) Well Ventilated – check to see if the chimney starter that you want to buy has enough vent holes at the bottom to get a good burn. It’s simple chemistry, you can only make fire when you burn oxygen. Therefore the more air that goes through the chimney starter, the faster the charcoal in it can ignite.

D.) Paint Chemicals React Badly to Extreme Heat – choose metal over painted surfaces, because liquid paints have chemicals in them that reacts to heat and, in some cases, they tend to also ignite if there’s too much heat in the area. Plain metal cylinders for chimney starters would be preferable.

E.) Wooded Handles are not Made for High Temperatures – avoid purchasing chimney starters that has wooden handles, that’s because wood aside from the fact that wood is a good heat conductor its atomic structure becomes unstable if introduced to high temperatures. So there’s a good chance that the handle will break and you’ll accidentally drop all of those smoldering charcoal lumps and cause a major fire in your house or apartment.

Also read: the Oklahoma Joe reverse flow smoker

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.